My uncomfortable black neoprene long-sleeved onesie felt like I was in a sausage casing. Sweat was dripping down my back, and if I stood any longer at the water’s edge, I would be charbroiled by lunchtime. I watched the pelicans dip low to follow the wave’s crest and rise into a V configuration. A few kids splashed at the water’s edge screaming and laughing, a gentle breeze blew my hair, and there was a lull in the waves.
As I walked into the saltwater, my feet became disassociated from my body, and they began to yell at me, asking why the heck was I torturing them today. They had been good feet, secured in my warm snowboard boots all winter, and now I was leaving them exposed in the vast ocean’s abyss. I backed up in obedience to my feet, and my seven-foot blue and white surfboard slipped out of my arm, but I caught it before it slammed to the ground. I placed the board’s rail on my hip and held it out like a large platter.
I grew up in the Chicago burbs until I was nine years old and moved to the small town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, making me a foreigner to ocean life.
There were sharks out there, just like in the movie Jaws. Shark week proved that these mighty ocean predators were at the top of the food chain. I could be a delicious treat today, especially dressed in my seal uniform. Maybe being partially cooked would serve as an advantage because I think sharks like fresh meat.
Well, here it goes. Either I go for it, or I sit here all day thinking about it.
If today was my day to get eaten by a shark, then so be it. I ran into the water and landed awkwardly onto my board and started paddling. Realizing I was only in two feet of water, I got off and walked until I couldn’t touch and again hopped on my board. Something touched my feet, and I screamed. My heartbeat raced as I looked back, knowing I was close to my death, but it was just a string of kelp.
I survived that first day of surfing in southern California; I was 21 years old, and although one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve learned in my life, I kept with it. I stuck with surfing for over the last twenty years. The sport gives me an opportunity to focus and have an immersive escape from reality. Something about being in saltwater is healing; I can guarantee to feel better after every surf session.
Every time I push myself in positive activities beyond my comfort zone, my life benefits in countless ways, and it’s the way I live a life beyond my imagination.
I’d love to hear your stories and what uncomfortable experiences you’ve had that changed your life for the better–comment below!