You can’t be afraid to feel. You can’t be afraid to experience happiness, to succeed, to fail. You can’t be afraid to feel sadness, anger, fear, to love, to lose. Our feelings are the greatest gifts of life.
I kept telling myself this over and over. I knew it was true. Knowing something and acting on it are completely separate things, unfortunately. Before we left I was freaking out about the waves in Samoa.
One of the best and worst feelings surfing gives you is fear. Fear that you will fall, fear that the really sharp reef barely beneath your feet will take your face off, fear of drowning, fear of sharks, fear of fearing, fear of failing. At its best fear excites you, awakens you, reminds you of your strength and determination. Fear can remind you of your love for life. Fear is a great gift of life, just like surfing.
Our first day surfing we took a tiny aluminum boat out to the Samoan reefs. The boat skipped along 2 foot deep water as I was perched on her nose to keep the prop off the bottom. In the blur of light blue beneath me I saw turtles, candy colored fish and skittish sharks. Despite this pleasing scenery I was feeling fear at its worst, for all of the reasons surfing can make a person feel so. “What if I eat $h*+?”.
Paddling into my first wave I kicked my feet anxiously, but paddled devoutly. Dropping backside onto a steep wall and into what felt like a new world, my worst fears became my best.