The very coolest thing I can say about my last day in Hawaii, which was my fifth day renting a board and going out in Waikiki, is this:
In the airport waiting for my flight home, I was reading through my blog entry about my most recent lesson with Jules. As I described, it was a very emotional lesson for me, and I have returned to that post several times to help me continue to process it. In the airport I was killing time reading through it, and I got to the part where I described how unstable the board is in the water:
It's fricking irritating - the board is slick and the water is moving and everything in the universe is conspiring for you to not stay on that thing. I pounce in the middle and grip the rails and just wait to feel balanced, but just end up flipping right over.
And sitting in the airport reading that entry, I was so surprised that I'd described the board as unstable. I had a few moments of genuine confusion over that description, wondering why the board was flipping over. Over the course of the week it had become so comfortable and so natural to be on and around the board. As I'd sat on it and laid on it and hopped on and off of it, I'd heard Jules in my head calling after me as I shot away from her on a wave, "Manhandle that thing!" I'd kind of stopped being gentle and afraid of it, and I'd started gripping the rails like it was my own, and I'd stopped fighting against the waves and started accepting them. And somewhere in the middle of that, and no one is more surprised than I am about this, it all started to feel pretty natural.
That last day when I rented the board I left my rash guard on the beach, so it was just me in my bathing suit and the board. I have to say, being out in just my suit felt amazing; amazingly organic and pure and free. Very different. Never mind the wetsuit, it felt different not having the reef walkers and rashie. That was an awesome feeling - nothing between my suit and the board, just feeling the water all over my body. I really felt in the water. I loved that feeling.
So I stood in the water about knee-deep and put my leash on, and then paddled out, way, way out. I noticed that sometimes it's helpful to paddle with my legs up, bent at a 90* angle at the knee and crossed at the ankle, as it settled my weight in a smaller space on the board. Other times, it felt good to extend my legs all the way back and utilize the entire length of the board.
I paddled out past the surfers, slightly beyond Diamond Head, and found an area in between two line ups that seemed like a good place for a rookie. I got settled on my belly and started enjoying the rhythm and motion of the waves; I swear they were almost mathematical in their patterns. I laid on my belly on the board and looked at Diamond Head, and looked at the shore. I listened to the way the waves would knock on the bottom of the board. I thought about how Jules says that you generally get the kinds of waves you need each time you come to the ocean to surf. And I thought about if that has greater application in life. I crossed my arms across the top of the board and laid my head down on them, first to one side and then the other. I did that for about an hour and a half and it was the most stable thing in the world. I almost fell asleep. The waves didn't scare me or knock me off center. They lulled me. When I was certain I was over my rental period and figured they were about to come searching for me, I paddled back into the shore and never once flipped, or even almost flipped. I glided across the top of the water, gripping the board through waves and dodging the other folks in the bay. I felt comfortable on the board, less like it was an extension of me and more like I was an extension of it.
It was an awesome day.