THE OCEAN: A Magnificent Educator
Water is the basis of life. We need it, thirst for it, are inherently driven to be a part of it. My experience with the ocean began as recreational during my childhood. Now as an adult, I find more and more that I seek answers from the waves, the movement and the power of this intense force of nature in our world.
I have lofty goals. I want to change the status quo with regards to how our society deals with non-physically violent relationship abuse. I’ve experienced it and know many others who suffer with it as well. The ocean is my educator and my strength. It helps me stay strong through what I know will be a long, painful process of trying to break through a regimented and terribly broken system.
I grew up in Santa Cruz, California, spending my
I recall my friends and I
Fast forward many years and now I see these powerful waves as teachers, metaphors of how to navigate my life’s current challenges. I surf and kiteboard. I am going through a horribly difficult time in my life. Full of frustration and anger at the things I cannot control but are stuck with having to work my way through. Three recent experiences with the ocean stand out to me this year. My educator, giver of life. I know I’ll get through because of the ocean.
In March I was trying to surf on a terrible day with turbulent water and no easy swell to ride. The waves were a mess and quite frightening. I remember paddling out and seeing this horrible shape coming at me and not sure what to do. I had been thinking about my ex-boyfriend who was dragging me into a horrible child custody battle and being very unreasonable. He is very abusive and frightening when he is angry. I looked at this wave that scared the crap out of me. I thought of my ex and in that moment determined that I would paddle as hard as I could at that big angry wave and get myself to the other side. It worked. I made it. I was ok. So I practiced it again and again. Challenged myself to face down these gnarly, scary waves and survive. I realized that this experience was teaching me resilience and how to work my way to the other side of personal trauma. I was amazed by this moment.
A month later in April. I was attending a kitesurfing event in Pismo Beach. At the same time, my ex was trying to bury me in an onslaught of legal crap. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. While I was kitesurfing, the ocean gave me another incredible lesson and answers. The wind was onshore, there were a ton of kitesurfers in the water and the surf was a relentless, very busy impact zone. It felt like I was in the game of Frogger where you have to dodge a bunch of traffic to cross the street. I remember trying to figure out how to navigate the kitesurfer traffic and approach each wave at the same time. I took it one at a time waiting for each new challenge to overcome. The lightbulb went off in my head. Oh?!! This is how I needed to handle the legal abuse that my ex was hurling at me… Just stay calm, handle one issue at a time and move through it at a steady pace. I finished my kitesurfing session with that in mind and enjoyed working my way through each wave.
I had a great summer. I kept moving forward. Making it a priority to go to the ocean as much as possible. The water at my beach is clean. A great mix of salt and cold that makes me feel alive. And, I am also very tired of the cruelty my ex has shown both myself and my daughter. The situation seems hopeless. It’s gone from bad to worse. I don’t know how I’ll survive it. It seems that no one can help. I read a posting on Facebook about a kitesurfer who witnessed his fifth suicide jumper off the Golden Gate Bridge. He was bummed about it and asked that people who feel that sad, reach out for help. I responded that it’s not that easy to find anyone to show up when you are feeling despair. Words are empty. So few people these days make themselves available to show up and physically be present with one another. The intense loneliness desperate people feel is real. I’ve experienced it a lot.
So, I went to the ocean. It always makes me feel better. This past weekend as I contemplated my life, what it might be worth to stick it out, or how freeing it would be to just let go, I played with the waves again. I swam right up to the break, challenging it to hurt me. Challenging it to knock me down and pummel me. You know what? It never hurt me. It was gentle. As aggressive as it appeared sometimes, the waves never pushed me too hard. They just passed by me. Hmmmmm Just like all this crap and my ex. My lesson for the day was that it will just pass by me. Face it, stay calm, do nothing, and it will pass by. In a short time that day, I went from feeling sadness and despair to enjoying basking in the freedom, care, and consideration of the ocean.
Wow! I love the ocean. I will stick around just to keep enjoying it: body surfing and riding my kiteboard across the swell, jumping up and over the waves and just being one with the ocean! It truly fills my soul. I know it has so much more to teach me and I can’t wait for each new lesson.
**Should you need someone to chat with and you are feeling lonely and that life may not be worthwhile, please call the Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255