The Millennial Mermaid: Life lessons I learned from Surfing Again

Above everything else, it’s most important to have fun-Photo taken in Dahican by Connor Bautista

Coming back to surf, like any other physically demanding sport, takes time. I know what I used to be capable of, my mind does but my body does not cooperate. What used to be a wave that I easily can ride turns into a frustrating attempt to even catch that wave.

Literally, getting back to my former surf-fitness glory is a wave after wave of disappointment. I was weak and rusty. My skills needed much refining. I had to relearn reading waves to name a few.

Having agreed to go on a surf trip after a yearlong hiatus, I did not expect to be so weak. Seeing the others surf was daunting. There’s always that choice you have to make. Do I surf or do I watch them surf? I wasn’t at my optimum physical best to surf but I really wanted to.

First, it was important that I was with people who will check up on me to see if I wasn’t yet drowning in the water. I had no idea that the spot we were going to surf in was a river mouth. With tales of bull shark sightings around and seeing how big the waves were because of the swell, I would be lying if I said I was not afraid.

The only thing in my mind that kept me from succumbing to fear is that this is the life I had always dreamt of. Shame if I just watched people surf.

You’ll never get to the lineup without paddling towards it. You have to move forward. Otherwise, you’ll never get to where you want to be. Second lesson is to keep moving forward even if all you see ahead are huge waves.

Huge waves will come once they do, you can’t choose how you get wiped out. You can try to do your best to duck dive or do a turtle roll to avoid getting thrown back further. You’ll fall, get beaten or wipe out but you always have to surface to breathe. Then choose to go on.

I continued paddling. Soon enough the waves became gentle. I arrive in the lineup where the others were. Getting to the lineup was an achievement. Catching the waves was the next frustrating part for me. I had forgotten just ‘hard’ I should be paddling.

Failing to catch waves for almost an hour, I felt disappointed. I was not happy with what has happening. I knew something had to change. I realized that my workouts in the gym were not enough in building my stamina and core strength.

I knew I had to change my routine. I mentally made a note to discipline myself in strengthening my core. I knew that I lacked stamina because an hour of paddling back and forth against the waves and current makes me so tired that my limbs felt like lead.

The more I would focus on strengthening myself in stamina and in skill, the more I would be able to enjoy surfing. So, I did not stop when I completely looked like a first timer with the waves. I stopped caring what others would think about me (if they even were thinking of me at all! I think they were too busy having fun to actually mock people who can’t surf well).

All I know is that I wanted to get better. Obviously, even if I strongly desired to be better, I couldn’t automatically right then and there surf better. But because I continued on with the motions, I enjoyed starting again.

The waves of our lives come in different packages. It’s inevitable and we can’t escape that. But we all have a choice. We can choose to ride the waves or let the waves ride over us. If we choose to ride the waves, we can choose how to ride it. The process is painful but we can enjoy it because at the end of the ride, the rewards will be worth it.