Friday, December 28, 2007

Through the eyes of an 8 year old...

This morning we got up at 7 to glassy waves, just around head high, breaking a bit more consistently and a little more softly than before. Paddling out was a relative breeze, hair not even wet. Pelicans, in morning formation, skim across the building sets about a surfboard length from me.

Beautiful wave after beautiful wave glides in. I paddle for my wave and just as I catch it, I know I have it--and I pull back and slide down the backside. Instead of trying to get up when I had the wave, I bailed. Frustrated, the only explanation I had for myself was that after so many years of trying and falling and failing -- I was just sabotaging myself now.

I watch Nic--up and at 'em. Taking a ride, taking a fall, taking a ride, fall.

I lower my standards to just, get a wave and fall. Fall big. Just do something.

So it comes, the same wave repeated -- I paddle hard and get up to fall. Strangely -- I'm on my feet, standing and riding and turning and smiling.

I look up to see two Costa Rican eight year old boys watching me, smiling. One points at my board and excitedly shakes his hand in a "hang loose". I return the surfer sign and his eyes get wide. He nudges his friend to do the same. We stand in ankledeep water exchanging "hang loose" and smiles. Nic rides in and they point and do the same to him.

Funny how not being good doesn't really matter to 8 year olds. What it was, was good enough. Even impressive. It's just the act of trying and doing, of seeing something you hope to do someday -- when you're a grown up?

A flash of a memory. Of being 8 or 9 years old, standing on black-sandy beach of the Oregon Coast, watching Axel, my older brother by 9 years, wading out in a tattered wetsuit with an old-yellowed surfboard, for brief coldwater rides and tumble after tumble in the Waldport whitewater churn. As the sun set, and the cold beach grew colder I stood there til my fingers and toes were numb, watching him do the coolest things I'd ever seen...hoping that someday, when I was a grownup, I could do that too.