Waiting for the Wave: Part 3
I didn’t know when it was that I stopped thinking of him. When I started rising on the glassy walls with only the ride in my thoughts, what would be the best way to enjoy this as long as possible before I go under or fall backwards? When did I start looking up at the curl of the wave forming while getting tossed about beneath it, with a complete sense of serenity and patience, as if I had suddenly been gifted with gills, waiting for the tug of my board to signify that it was time to rise. When did coughing up salt water come with a smile, knowing I probably shouldn’t have done what I just did, but I’m all the better for it?
Whenever it was, I had completely forgotten about that image I had had of him riding the white foam to the shore. Sitting on the black blanket of water, I wondered if he could even carve, or ride the board he had propped against the wall in his apartment, or if it was just there to look cool. I discarded my negative thoughts. After all, I had to thank him. I had fallen in love with surfing in his wake. I was gradually coming to the realization that I had kept him in my life solely as a source of motivation to become the kind of woman I wanted to be, and to remember the kind of girl I once was, who had been silenced in my quest to “adult” better for fear of seeming childish. The kind of girl who lived for live music and new discoveries, traveling and reinventing herself, art, and extreme sports, the kind of girl who was 70% teenage boy in a grown women’s body and not ashamed of it. I supposed we had brought each other back to ourselves, and now it was on us to grow from there.
Loving someone is almost always selfish, but when it’s completely self-serving, it’s no longer love.
I watched the sky turn orange and then red as I back-paddled over a rising wave. Its lip licked my board and threatened to topple me.
Yet even coming to that recognition wasn’t sufficient. I still felt restless, uneasy. Something else was missing.
Then it hit me. Or rather, it reintroduced itself. It was something I already knew but had forgotten, like a moral from a children’s book. I watched the sky turn orange and then red as I back-paddled over a rising wave. Its lip licked my board and threatened to topple me. What am I doing? Open your eyes.
Open your eyes. This is it.
The world is not going to hand you meaning. The universe doesn’t care. That is the beauty. That’s the magic. This pretty pretty world is existing, the waves are rolling, and then crashing, the sun is magnificently setting, the sharks are calmly swimming. Shit. No. No sharks. All the sharks are dead. Yes. No sharks here. And people are holding hands, smiling and watching you and about ten others like you scattered along the horizon, because it brings them peace. And this is all going on with or without you, but you have the invaluable privilege of being here and experiencing it. So open your eyes. This is everything. What more do you need? Idiot.
I took a deep breath. For the first time in weeks, all the fuzz cleared out of my brain.
A fast set was coming up in front of me so I turned and lay on my stomach. I didn’t catch that first wave, and probably not even the one after that. But eventually I got one. And I couldn’t tell you how many feet it was because I didn’t bother to look back. Whatever it was, I was going to ride it. It was my wave.
This is my wave, I repeated to myself as the (3) tail (2) began to (1) lift. Here we go. I raised my body and carved subtly along the dark water wall, my eyes intermittently focused on a singular palm tree ahead of me, alternating with the movements of my upper body. I caught the edge just as the foam began to form and the board slowed. I let the board sink and did a pirouette backwards it the water. It probably looked extremely showy, but it’s what I felt like doing. If they say dancers don’t make for good surfers, they just haven’t seen the right combination.
The world is not going to hand you meaning. The universe doesn’t care. That is the beauty. That’s the magic.
I rose to the surface with my eyes closed, as always, so as not to see anything I don’t want to see. I rested my head on my board, the water lapping against my face. A small section of the right corner of the sky was still bright orange. I hopped on my board and coasted back to shore to make my way feebly along the gravel and mud.
The world is not going to open your eyes for you. The universe is not going to cater to you. The universe isn’t sending you messages, channeling your spirit animal, or any of that. The universe doesn’t give a damn about you, and that’s what’s great about it. You have to be open to the little things that make life the sequinned roller-disco of beauty and disaster that it is, that makes wherever you are paradise, your own Panama.
If you close yourself off, a sunset is a sunset, a beach is a beach, a human a human, a mountain a mountain, a wave a wave.
Nothing will impress you. You can stand at the top of Mount Everest and shrug. You can base jump off Victoria Falls and yawn the whole way down. You can meet the love of your life and ignore them. You can have everything and it will feel like nothing.
If you open your eyes, good will not come to you. It’s already there, existing with or without you, it’s just that you’ll be able to see it. And what you do with it, well, that’s up to you.