I’m excited to continue our 5-part series, “Life Lessons from the Ocean”. If you missed the first one check it out here: Life Lessons from the Ocean – Part 1: Be Present. For me the ocean and surfing has been a teacher in my life, and I encourage you to “listen to your life,” (as Frederick Buechner says) and pay attention to your rhythms and routines and places of joys and challenges to see what your life is trying to teach you.
Lesson 2: Adapt
I’m not sure there is another sport that requires more adapting than surfing. The ocean is always changing and can be an entirely different place day-to-day, or hour-to-hour. One day it is huge and scary, the next it can be calm and mellow. The key to fun, safe, and successful surfing is adapting to what the ocean has for you that day. The ocean is like life in this way – always changing. “The only constant in life is change” (Hericlitus) and therefore, in surfing and in life, adaptation is essential.
Part of adapting in the ocean is remembering what I’m capable of and remembering my training. I may never know what to expect in the ocean, but I do have all of my experience to draw from and apply to each new wave or challenge. In life we are also building our skill set daily. Another important part of adapting in the ocean is understanding it and being in tune with it. On land, every day is training ground and an opportunity to be in tune with what’s in front of us – our relationships, our goals, our dreams, our professions and our service to others. Day to day and year to year our circumstances may change, sometimes subtly and sometimes dramatically. We can adapt to the constant changes life throws our way with our experience and an anchored core that will keep us centered and not let our identity change with the ups and down in life.
We don’t need to feel anxious about the unexpected things that come our way if we are smart and prepared. We can be in tune and ready for the changes. As a child I learned to recognize currents so that I wouldn’t get sucked out to sea. I had to read the ocean conditions and know how to deal with them in order to be safe, how to read the waves and choose the right one. Life is no different, we are continually learning to read other people, settings, and circumstances and we find ourselves making choices all the time. Is this situation good for me? Is this relationship going to pull me in the wrong direction? Am I prepared enough to take on this situation?
In the ocean, and in life, we constantly need to adapt, rely on our training and preparation, and remain true to who we are as we embrace the changes that come our way. Read your conditions, pick the right waves, rely on your experience, and enjoy the ride!
photo credits: header image- Rip Curl, and archival image- Noah Hamilton