A surfing lesson made me realise that I’ll never be ready for anything, so I may as well just get on with it.
This afternoon I had my first ever surf lesson. I had come to Costa Rica with the intention to at least give surfing a go. But the very thought of it scared me silly, and so I procrastinated over it as long as I could.
So I know what you are thinking… I am Australian! Surely I know how to surf.
Nope. It may surprise you to know that I’m not that keen on the ocean, let alone the surf. The heat. The sunburn. The relentless pounding of waves. The power of the water. The ‘getting dunked’. The fear of getting dragged out into that big bad ocean.
I’m not a bad swimmer, but I am a control freak. So I am much more comfortable in a pool or a calm lake or river where i can see the other side and know that I can get myself out.
My conscious mind – stirrer that it is! – of course has spent most of the week filling my head with images of me being knocked unconscious with my surfboard. Or being swept out to sea never to be seen again.
I was not ready to go surfing. But with the surfing lesson paid for before I even set foot in the country, I eventually had to bite the bullet and give it a go. Or else forfeit the $50 lesson fee.
So tight arse me, finally stepped up to the plate and decided to at least schedule a lesson.
“Oh we can fit you in, in half an hour.”
And suddenly I’m being given a rashie and the heaviest and most humongous board I’ve ever seen is being thrust into my arms. Even maneuvering the thing the short distance to the beach proves a challenge, and my mind is spinning as the instructor shows us how to paddle and eventually stand up on the board, before pointing us out to the sea.
Sensing my confusion, he turns to me and smiles “Don’t worry, I expect you to forget everything by the time you get into the water.”
I wade out into the sea with the board in front of me as I was shown, and procrastinate for a good 10 mins about even getting on my board. Every wave seems too close. I try setting up as the instructor has shown me, but before I am on my board, the wave has hit and I spend the next few minutes trying to recollect myself physically and mentally.
How am I suppose to get on it – let alone do all those things they told me – before it hits?
I’m not ready, I’m not ready my mind is screaming!
Eventually the instructor comes towards me, grabs my board and tells me to get on. Even with this new ‘baby step’ approach, it takes me more than a few attempts before I do anything more than freeze on a board when a wave comes towards me. But after about half a dozen attempts where I do nothing more than cling terrified to the board, and then a dozen more hilarious attempts to stand, I am finally up.
The third time I manage to catch a wave and stand up – for at least a good 10 secs before crashing unceremoniously into the water – I emerge with a huge grin, and realise that despite my terror I am actually having fun.
Over the next two hours I can’t say I improved a whole lot, but I did stop worrying and just surrender completely to the experience…. over and over pushing my board out and then riding it – one way or another – back to the shore.
After the lesson, I sat on the beach with the instructor watching other surfers and feeling proud of my feeble achievements.
When I told him about my 96 mile run next week from Manuel Antonio to Corcovoda, he leaned back and with big eyes exclaimed that I must be crazy. What about the heat? The hills?
For a moment, I felt that flutter of fear again. The one I’ve had ever since signing up for this crazy adventure. And funnily enough the one I had just before I got out on my surfboard.
It’s then when it struck me.
I have never been ready to do anything. And I probably will never be ready to do anything.
Nearly everything that I have achieved in life – changing career, changing country, starting a business, getting myself to Costa Rica – has been as a result of me jumping early and working it out on the way down.
So if I waited until my impossibly perfect standard of ‘ready’, then I wouldn’t be here in Costa Rica right now. And already – even without the run – this trip has been worth it.
So here’s to being scared shitless. And doing it anyway! What are you not ready for?