Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Try, Try, and Try Again

Another session with Jules today. Tonight I am BEAT and trying to decide whether or not to go out again tomorrow. I have a lot of crap to do! But the conditions are supposed to be good again tomorrow, and then they get crazy (um, 32' on Thursday?) again, and I don't know when I'll get another day in the water. But the to do list is really getting long . . .

I got some deets on the board. It's 10', never been in the water. The guy got it waxed up and now wants to trade it in for a custom-made. That's all I know. The board is in Canada right now (which I think is cool - you know its owner is a determined dude if he surfs in Canada) and should be at the shop in a week or two. The price is pretty good. The owner is going to hold it for me and I'll take a look once it gets in. I'm trying to be calm about it. Honestly, the learning curve that will happen bums me out, but I know I need to get away from a softie. It just makes me nervous . . . the sofite is my security blanket. (Although it didn't feel very soft or blankety when it clocked me in the head.) I'm going to see what happens.

When we were walking down to the spot we passed a dude just out of the water, all red-faced and stoked. He looked at me and volunteered, "Man, it's so nice out there! I just had to get out because I can barely stand up anymore!" You could definitely feel a little buzz in the air. I forget that I'm not the only person in these parts who gets a little angsty and twitchy when it goes this long without good conditions.

It felt awesome to see Jules again and it was so good to get in the water. Why did it feel like a year since my last session? We did our beach talk and then got in. I took a few belly rides to get used to the water again - surprising how fast it comes back and how great it feels almost immediately. I guess something that's cool is that no matter what was going on before surfing, taking rides just makes you feel really present and focused on the moment, and it makes you really happy! Our beach talk was kind of heavy (it often is) and walking out into the water I was moving slow and felt super out of my element for some reason. (I think I'm still trying to get a good comfort level with the water. How is it possible that I've gotten more scared of the water the more surfing I've done?) As we were going out I was worried I'd be too preoccupied or cautious to have a good day. Wow, one belly ride later and I'm all smiley and pumped and running after my board, giving Jules the thumbs up.

We talked about lefts and rights today (maybe I can describe those as the angles of how the waves peel and break? Hard to put into words), and Jules had me take rides slightly angled vs. going straight in towards the shore. That was new and a little wobbly. She also had me try changing my pop-up move from what I've always done (the modified knee thing) to a real pop up. Argh! Where does my leg go? Do I bring it forward through my arms or swing it around? It just feels like there are limbs everywhere. I didn't nail it, but I did make some progress. Still VERY frustrated to not be able to stay on my feet, it was probably my best session so far.

One thing I want to remember is that I've been wondering if I have the nerve to surf all winter. Last month when I went out, I remember thinking - Hey, it's October in Oregon and I'm in the water! I'm one step closer! Today when I was out there I thought, Hey, it's November! I'm doing pretty good! It was still 50-ish outside, so not terrible, but each time the calendar changes, I feel better about sticking with it.

It also feels really cozy and yummers to get out of my wetsuit and into a big sweatshirt and jeans when I'm done. I stand at the car and do my little routine and it's hard to even remember the days I'd be sweating in the sun and turning on the A/C in the car for the drive home. It's such a good feeling to be outside and in the water and not letting the change in seasons trap me inside. (So far.)

After my lessons I'm so beat that I usually get out when Jules does. This time I packed a few granola bars and water and took a bag down to the beach with me - I really wanted to stay as long as possible and enjoy the rare clean waves. I ended up taking a 30 minute break after my lesson and then getting in for about 30 minutes more, but I again noticed how totally exhausted I am after a lesson. I want to surf for 4 or 5 hours! Right now if I make it 2 with a break in the middle, I'm lucky. Argh. Something to work on.

Another thing to remember is that even though it was only maybe 4 - 6' today, occasionally bigger, the waves felt like they packed a bit more of a punch than normal. Jules said those are just autumn/winter waves and that I'll get used to it. She said that surfing those makes you really grateful when summer comes along and the waves are a little softer and back to normal.

When I was done with the session, I went over and hung out with a really small black lab puppy waiting on the beach for her owner, who was out in the water. (That sentence must be a grammatical nightmare, but I'm too tired to care.) This little cutie pie was such a lover; she came right over and put her front paws on my thigh and started licking my hands immediately. I met her owner after a while - a super friendly guy who was kayaking.

I experienced a little angst today over my skill level. Again. I am trying so hard to (as Jules puts it) give myself the gift of patience. And I do admit that what I'm doing right now brings me so much joy, that if all I could do for the next forty years is belly rides, I should keep doing it. But I do feel frustrated and weak and lame. I cruise a lot of surf sites online to learn and get encouragement, and to see cute surfer dudes (Mick, call me), and I found an awesome post on Daily Stoke that I'm going to try to remember whenever I get bummed. A guy listed a board on Craigslist and the Daily Stoke folks joked that no one should buy it so the guy is forced to try harder! They say surfing is a sport that requires "a serious commitment to fail, failure, fail again." It makes me feel better. I'm obviously totally committed to that :)

I guess the last thing I want to remember from today is from our beach talk. We were talking about gratitude and how it feels, and the role it plays in surfing and in life. Jules talked about how the gratitude comes first. You don't wait around for something to happen so that you can feel thankful. You feel grateful, and then good things (or hard things that are lessons) come. I liked that.


  1. That's a nice lesson about gratitude. I like that. Thanks so much for sharing everything you learn about life in pursuit of learning about surfing!

  2. You know, there will probably come a point at which the water is actually warmer than the air outside! So, you'll be happy to be in the water.

    Can hardly wait to see you tomorrow!!

  3. Love your surfy posts. Love hearing about your progress! You're turning into a real surfer, even if you don't have a magic board yet.

  4. I don't know Jules, but I dig her.