Ride the Waves
“I learn by going where I have to go.”
~ Theodore Roethke
Whenever I take class with the lovely Laura Conley I find myself resonating more closely with the now. It may mean I realize my problem is really nothing more than an acorn, or she may remind me of my ability to “begin again.” Yesterday, Laura helped me remember to surf the waves of life.
It’s so easy to get caught up in life. Sometimes, we fight life–we push against the waves. But we cannot fight the waves of the ocean. You cannot stop a wave from forming any more than you can stop the sun from rising and setting. No matter how hard we want to control life, we cannot control everything. And as Marisa said on Fat Grrl Rides last night, “Doing things that [you] can’t control? SO HARD.”
Yes, it is hard. Because not controlling things is ridiculously SCARY. Not controlling things makes us vulnerable. And if we are vulnerable, we can get hurt. But when we are vulnerable, we also allow ourselves to love. To find joy, to take a next step in life, to access our full potential. By letting go, we can experience all sorts of uncomfortable emotions, sensations, you name it. And that’s OK.
In Meditations from the Mat, Rolf Gates says in his January 21st entry “The only thing we can control is our attitude. We have the choice of life or death, love or fear, in each moment.”
I went white water rafting in college with a group of girlfriends from my sorority. One of my girlfriends was petrified of the rapids. She was so scared of the waves. Whenever we neared a rapid she would drop everything, jump in the middle of the raft, and duck and cover. She spent most of the trip in this manner, on her knees, hands over her head, in the middle of the raft, with her eyes closed. In being so scared to flip out of the boat, to lose control of the situation, my girlfriend ended up missing out on the entire beautiful experience. In resisting the uncontrollable, she missed out on the magnificent day. She never felt the cool river water rush against her face, she never felt the thrill as you navigated through rapids, she never saw the fish jumping in the river, she never noticed the birds in the trees or the flowers along the shore. She never noticed anything but the yellow bottom of our raft. Her own fear kept her from what is.
|With my sorority sisters before we started our white water rafting trip.|
At the same time, we don’t want to let the waves wash over us. Letting go of the need to be in charge does NOT mean letting others plow over you. Again, you can control your attitude. If you let the waves crash over you and allow the current to carry you away, you are also still trying to control the situation. You are still resisting the present and resisting the uncomfortable. The trick is to find balance in the middle. To let go to the flow, but to know when to stand your ground.
A surfer must learn to ride the wave, but also know when it’s time to fall. That it’s okay and natural to fall. And after the fall, paddle back out and do it all over again. Can you let go of the reins? Can you stand atop the waves, look out, trust that the water will hold you up, and then be okay if the waves send you crashing down? And most importantly, can you laugh if you fall, shake yourself off, and get right back on the wave?!? Can you go where you have to go, without worrying about what that destination may be? Can you learn as go, give up the fear, give in to the ride, and appreciate the present moment and all of life for what it is at that precise moment?