I went surfing today. It smelled like fish. The water was the color of olive juice and the wind could have blown the sound of the train’s whistle all the way to San Nicholas Island. I took the kids to the beach with a few of my friends yesterday. The conditions were the same, but since I couldn’t paddle out it all seemed more romantic and enticing; the wind having its way with the waves.
I saw someone trying to paddle out. He kept getting rejected back to the beach like a wrinkly dollar bill out of a vending machine. I thought, I’d be out there in a heartbeat.
Of course I had the chance to prove this the very next day. It wasn’t in a heartbeat, but my heart was stampeding around my rib cage by the time I finally made it out to the lineup. Thank goodness. I needed that internal earthquake to release me from my own tired narrative of not being enough.
I thought, the other day, when I was finally taking a shower alone and staring at the walls, how my life is kind of like our bathroom tile. My friends and family are the big tile squares, shiny even after all the use; important, substantial; but my hobbies and passions are like the grimy grout keeping it all together. Which is why I always paddle out even if it’s crappy.
The other reason is the fire.
I remember the ’96 Olympics more than any other sporting event in history. I remember when the torch came running through town, carried around by a rag tag group of beginners, athletes, creatives and enthusiasts. It was such a proud commotion, the police and all the people celebrating one small thing that represented so much. I was 11 at the time.
I haven’t looked into much about what the Olympic torch represents. The fire of passion and competition and life? That sounds about right. We all have that fire inside ourselves that we quench and feed; our own torch to carry and protect. Mine is always burning, that I’m sure of, but I’m not sure where it’s taking me yet.
I want to write a book. I want to leave something behind in the surfing story. I want to be a part of the conversation.
I want to say things that are easy for me to pen down, but are hard for me to say aloud. I want to believe I can release myself and others with words. Our stories should never hold us captive.
I don’t want to wonder if what I’m saying is appropriate in the world I’m trying to establish myself in. I want to say what I think will resonate with others most personally.
I want to write like my hair is on fire, just like that torch.
I’m trying to, but I’m also afraid. Maybe it’s of the possibility of rejection. Maybe it’s of the work. Maybe it’s because I’m worried the story that will come out of me won’t be enough.
I tried to copy down what Cheryl Strayed said on her podcast the other day on the nature or writing:
“I’ve had to sort of surrender to the idea and the truth of my mediocrity. By which I say, “You know what? I really am not enough. I am not going to be able to write the brilliant book that I set out to create, but guess what I can do? I can write a book. And the book might suck. The book might be mediocre. But the thing is, my work isn’t really to write the brilliant book, my work is to write the book. And the minute you do that you can realize you are enough because you don’t have to be everything.”
I may never tell the perfect story, but I can write something mediocre. And that is liberating.
All beautiful things take time.
+first two surf photos by Ashleigh Yob
+last few by Scott