I went surfing with a buddy on Saturday afternoon. Weekend sessions are always packed with all sorts, from weekend warriors to seasoned surf dogs, so I had low expectations when it came to catching many waves on a crowded beach break. I intended to surf with a friend, get wet, and maybe catch a few waves.
I noticed another surfer picking up a lot of waves. He was relaxed and chatting with his friends in between sets. He was chill and always in the right place for a quick little wave, which meant his wave count was much higher. I ended up paddling next to him as a bigger set wave took shape in front of us. We both looked at each other, and then he smiled at me and told me to go for it. Based on where I was sitting in the lineup, it was my wave, but it was still a cool and casual gesture from someone confident enough to know that more waves were on the way. His bucket was full.
Make a point of hanging out with people who have a full bucket. They are the people who know when enough is enough and aren’t desperately trying to hold onto things and constantly taking.
Companies can be a bit like this as well. In a tight job market, watch out for companies that will do anything to make you stay. Work with people who are quietly confident and happy to help, whether it’s working together or getting you set up for your next move. The top performers at the most exciting companies know there are more waves on the way.
People say they want to change things, but what they mean is that they want things to change.
If you want to learn something new, then start.
Want to learn to surf? Drive to the beach, borrow a wetsuit and a surfboard, and get wet. On some days you’ll get out of the water, and your hands will be so cold that you won’t be able to unzip your suit or hold your keys. Everyone sitting on their boards just beyond the shore break did the same thing at some point. You won’t learn by watching Instagram videos of big wave surfing. The answer is in the water.
Want to learn to write? Start writing, publish something every day. Get used to feedback, good and bad. The stuff will only start to resonate when you turn up in your writing. People can spot authenticity a mile away, and they’ll connect with you through your book.
Don’t take the act of starting something for granted. Most people give up before they even begin. If you’ve started and come back the next day, then you are in the one percent already.
If you want to change something, then you’ve got to change yourself.
The breaks between yoga poses are as important as the poses themselves.
Surfing is like this too. The first paddle out takes a lot of energy. Especially if it’s a beach break, and timing between the sets is the difference between flailing in the inside section and a fun surf session. There’s a magical moment right after paddling out, when I sit up on my board and look out to sea. The breakers are behind me, and I’m breathing deeply. The adrenalin subsides and it’s quiet. All it takes is a few strokes for me to get over the incoming set waves. That pause gives me time to recharge, get my bearing and work out where I want to be when the next set rolls in.
It’s like the breaks between notes in a musical composition. The notes and the breaks makes the melody.
Paddling out for a surf on a winter’s day. The water is dark blue and cold. I’m warm in my car sipping some coffee. I fight the urge to drive away. Only after the first duck dive and feeling the salt water hit my face do I miss the feeling of being in the water
Waking up early for a morning run. The first few minutes out in the wild are the hardest. I’m talking myself into turning around and heading home. Then something magical happens after the first mile. I started to look forward and forget about what’s behind me. My body loosens up and I start to smell the morning.
Yoga first thing in the morning. I’d rather be sleeping or getting a jump start on the day. My body resists the first stretch and the inner dialogue comes up with reasons why I should rather cut it short, shower and check my phone. Only after the first three stretches do I get into the groove and am grateful that I overcame the initial inertia.
Leaving my phone at home when I go for a hike. Initially I have phantom phone syndrome. Even though I don’t have my phone I can still feel it vibrating in my pocket. Only once I’m far away from the roads and deep in the trails do I disconnect and am reminded of how good it feels to be free from the likes, hearts, pings, retweets and favorites.
The ego is crafty and will seduce you into the path of least resistance. Feelings fade the longer you are away from something. Overcome the inertia and all resistance crumbles.
I love it when practices like Yoga, Aikido, Kung-fu, surfing, running, writing are described as nobel pursuits. It implies that the nobelness is not about achieving mastery, but more so achieved through the persuit of mastery. The answer is in the dirt of the day to day practice.
As I left the house this morning there was a gentle offshore wind blowing, the ground was wet from morning rain and there was still a bite in the air. A typical spring morning in Northern California. Weather patterns can evoke memories, just like smells and sounds. This particular combination of notes took me back to Mexico.
In the spring of 2003 I was on the west coast of Mexico with two buddies. We had slowly moved down the coast, camping in beach villages along the way and surfing every morning. If the surf was good and the people were friendly then we would stay a while. The ritual was the same. Wake up before sunrise, slowly crawl out of a too small tent, fuel the belly with some instant oats, try to warm up a bit and paddle out. Like clockwork, the wind was always a light offshore before switching to a pumper onshore at around 10ish in the morning. The key was to get out early with the offshore wind and catch the swell when it was glassy and smooth. Crowds were never a problem. The rest of the day was spent sleeping, reading and playing cards away from the wind and sun. Just before sundown as everything started to cool again, the wind would die down and switch back to offshore. It was time to suit up and paddle out for a cheeky sunset surf. Good times.
Pattern recognition is combination of things, like the time of year, sights, sounds, smell and state of mind, but when it clicks into place it’s great to revisit a moment and savor it. Be open to it and explore it when it happens.
Leaving the coast and spending timing in Colorado was jarring at first. The ocean is an energetic anchor for me. The different moods of the sea, the smell in the morning, the shape shifting and sounds. I love it, deeply respect it and also fear it. If I ever need a refresher then a surf at Ocean Beach in San Francisco or watching the water move around the Golden Gate Bridge during an outgoing full tide always does the trick.
Heading to a landlocked state felt like I’d cut the umbilical cord from my power source But after watching the mountains on the Eastern Slopes of Boulder change color in the morning and evening light, and feeling the mood shift as storms rolled in over the Rockies, I started to recognize the same oceanic energy resonating from the mountains. Awesome power, slow moving and shape shifting.
The energetic anchor was the same. Different exterior, same interior. I plugged back in.