i've actually been afraid of surfing
my entire life.
and at the same time
i've always wished
i could do it.
here are some of the things
that fear has been known to whisper
when warm seas and surfboards
"surfing is hard."
"oh, laura, you don't have enough of what it takes to do it right."
"you will get tossed under waves and choke on seawater."
"you'll look like an idiot."
"you could easily hurt someone with your surfboard."
"you might drown."
"getting eaten by a shark, sounds fun, huh?"
"you're cute, but catching and riding real waves is for real surfers."
"just sit in the sand, and watch the others. i'll take care of you."
fear is a
little rat bastard.
and what i've learned about
pessimistic, manipulative, controlling, crazy-making little rat bastards
is that they get their energy
by making you nuts.
they feed off of your attention to them,
which they get more and more of
by making sure you never have sufficient time
and be present
with what's real
they pretend to care about you,
but sadly all they care about
i learned this the hard way,
by choosing to stay with a partner for ten years
who was pessimistic about a majority of things in life
(except the things he wanted, of course).
i loved him, so i didn't want to see that he was also
fear and abusive people are a lot alike.
i just spent the week in beautiful byron bay
here in australia
where there are dozens of gorgeous beaches
filled with waves and warmth
and everybody surfs.
i was planning to avoid it.
fear had started his dialogue with me
the minute i set foot on the beach.
the next day, my love sent me this text message from home:
"it's just my opinion, but if i were you i'd try surfing.
it's something you can look back and say you did.
and the water there sounds pretty nice."
i love how he gently encourages me to try things
that i've always wanted to do
but have been too afraid to try.
so i signed up for a private surfing lesson.
just before i went, he sent one more text:
"kick ass, sea bass."
it was all i needed to hear.
my teacher was an italian-german guy named david who goes by "flash"
and he had the happiest demeanor of anyone
i had come across in byron.
he loves the ocean. he loves surfing. his eyes and face were completely lit up with pure joy the entire time. and he wasn't even surfing himself! he was just teaching me about it. how waves form, what to look for, how to stand up, how to fall off. he spent over an hour pushing my board into big frothy waves, over and over and over and over again.
i managed to stand up three times,
which was incredible.
what was even more incredible was that
i laughed the entire time.
fear didn't even stand a chance.
my teacher was so good,
and so filled with whatever the opposite of fear is,
that i think his optimism and joy
infected me somehow,
and i loved every single second of it.
even when i looked like an idiot.
even when i got tossed under a wave and choked on seawater.
even when i scraped my knee in the sand falling off.
i just laughed.
and every time i hopped back on that board
to try and surf another incoming wave,
i was not thinking,
"you're cute, but you don't have what it takes to do it right."
no, instead i was thinking:
"kick ass, sea bass."
the people we invite into our lives affect the thoughts we invite into our minds.
and the thoughts we invite into our minds affect the quality, and joy, in our lives.
after my lesson, i bought and used my very first set of mala beads, to celebrate.
they were made by an artist in byron bay, named natalie.
each of the 108 beads is a lotus seed.
traditionally, lotus seeds are used for mala chanting
and prayers to unfold spiritual knowledge and wisdom.
the lotus flower grows in dark mud
and opens into the light
as a beautiful flower, clean and pure.
in much the same way, i am working to grow,
and unfold out of the mud, and into light.
sending love from sydney, where me & my new mala beads are getting ready to board a homeward-bound airplane tonight. oh, fear is still stowed away in my suitcase, he never goes far from me. but at this very moment i think he's feeling a bit defeated.