Web comic "Surfer Joe"

Joe’s First Wave (#49)

Joe's First Wave

I’ll never forget my first wave…

I bet almost every surfer remembers their first. How can one forget the moment that ignites the flame of passion? I remember it was a windy afternoon and the sun was starting to go down. The water was pretty choppy and the waves were pretty small and crappy. I was using my friend’s spare board, a 7’6″ funboard. We had been in the water for a couple of hours, and I’d gotten the hang of paddling into waves. I couldn’t get to my feet, though, and time was running out. I was determined, to get up one time. And I wasn’t going to get out of the water until I did.

When your body isn’t used to balancing, surfing can be extremely tough. I would scrap into a wave and, just doing a pushup was hard. The board would wobble under me, and I ate it a few times just from this position. Getting a foot on the board without falling is even harder. Each step you take to stand challenges your balancing muscles in new ways. And the only way to get the hang of it is through repetition.

I wiped out so many times. And each time I collected my board and paddled back out to try again. I was so focused I don’t remember feeling tired, even though my fitness level was pretty poor at the time. 

And then it happened. I only stood up for a couple of seconds and I was wobbling through the ride. But I was so stoked when I did. Immediately I went back out and did it again. Once you do it the first time, the seed of knowing that you can makes every subsequent attempt easier.

I failed more than I succeeded that day. But what is failure? Some say the only failure is not trying. Others say failure is the path to success, and that it’s part of the learning process. I like to think failure is an illusion. One of many abstract concepts that people made up in order to classify results. But outside of our own minds, it means nothing. It plays into our insecurities that some outside force is watching and judging us. We worry that others might mock us when in reality most people are too worried about themselves to notice what others are doing.

Shaking that feeling is key to living well and being the person you envision for yourself. It’s difficult to explain in words, but just know that you can be whatever you want to be. It has nothing to do with achievement.

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