Learning to surf was unlike any other sport I have ever taken on. Besides being exceptionally humbling and challenging, you’re also at the whim of mother nature. If you want to surf on a specific day it doesn’t always work out – the tide is too low or too high, it is too windy, the waves are too small, or even too big.
Once you have the ideal conditions you actually only get so many waves you can catch in a given session. You may have, on a good day, 10-15 waves you paddle for. But before you even surf a wave, you need to learn to pop-up. Going from laying on your board and paddling for the wave to standing up and riding it. That unto itself takes a very long time. Only after all this can you actually practice surfing.
Eventually, you realizing that surfing is about more than actually surfing a wave. There’s the challenge of making it out through the shore break, which can be seen as a struggle or an inspiring challenge. There is also the patience of simply waiting for a wave and enjoying the tranquility of the water. You have wildlife swimming around you – seeing a pod of dolphins playing in the water gives you a feeling of peace and joy that will carry you through the day.
So maybe once you take all this into consideration you realize that surfing actually involves very little surfing. This draws parallels to life as well. What is it that we’re concerned about in a given moment, or striving for in the future that we think will finally make us happy? What about all the things happening right now that can bring us joy, but we ignore them because our focus is on a distant achievement that will hopefully find us finally content? Surfing is a struggle and a challenge, but people come back to it again and again. Much like life, simply because we are faced with hardships, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that we can (hard as it may be) find joy in our lives during challenging times, and in the struggle itself.