Six Lessons from the Sea

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I wrote a piece recently for Spirituality and Health Magazine called Six Lessons From the Sea, ideas adapted from Saltwater Buddha and All Our Waves Are Water.

1. The struggle is the joy.

Videos and films make surfers look like we’re always cruising around, carefree, on crystalline waves, no work involved. But extremely little of each surf session is spent actually standing up on your surfboard on a wave—maybe 1 percent. Most of the time you’re paddling until your shoulders feel like they’re being cattle-branded. If you’re looking to have a good time, it’s essential to find a way to enjoy paddling, or at least good-naturedly bear it. So surfing is life. The good stuff—chocolate and great sex and weddings and hilarious jokes—fills a minute portion of an adult lifespan. The rest of life is paddling: work, paying bills, flossing, getting sick, dying. But nobody ever found lasting joy from being fed beauty and riches and ease from a silver spoon. The sea has taught me that if I’m clear on where I’m going and why it’s good, the struggle is the joy. Plus, the burn helps you enjoy the good waves even more.

2. Celebrate. Let go.

Because those exceptional waves come along only once in a blue moon, I think it’s important to celebrate them. Hoot, high-five, shake your butt. Too-cool-for-school stoicism isn’t any fun. Recent neuroscience shows that the more positive emotion we bring to an experience, the more neurons fire and wire together, leaving our brains more optimistic and open. The flip side, however, is that if the waves are perfect today, you can bet a storm is coming. Clinging to good conditions is like trying to hold the sea still. It leads to frustration. So dance, sing, toast. Then let go of its ever happening again.

 

To read the full six lessons, click here.