Monday, November 8, 2010

Courage To Stand

There are times in our lives when courage, like the tide, ebbs and flows. Some days we have more courage, other days, having been beaten down by stress or loss, our courage is depleted. Honestly, in the last little while, my courage meter has been very low. Thus began my paddle boarding adventure.

Visiting my friend Sheri at her new digs close to Malibu, we remarked a lone woman paddling away on a sparkling ocean at sunset. "We should do THAT!" Sheri squealed. Instantly the safety list in my head began in decending order . . . starting with sharks and ending somewhere in the land of salt water stinging my eyes. Seeing her enthusiasm I was quickly crooned into a nearby board shop, complete with surfer staff and lei-clad mannequins.

Within minutes we were donning wetsuits on the beach with paddles in hand and yellow boards at our feet. Balancing on the sand was good practice for foot placement but would offer zero practice at the real challenge: standing up on the same board adding swells and waves to the effort.

Our instructor hooped and hallored from the shore as we paddled frantically into the surf, trying to time our pass into the deep between the crashing waves. Minutes later all of us were beyond the crashing waves and out into the big blue. And there the lesson began.

First kneeling and paddling for practice, then wide stance, STAND. Using the paddle to propel the board in the desired direction, but also using it as a balance, a newfound delight took hold of my heart. A delight called COURAGE.

As each swell would wobble me, and I would lean away, hold my board to balance, and manage to stay standing, I could feel a passion growing, just as the smile on my face continued to broaden. I was standing - in the ocean - on a bright yellow board. I had paddled out into the deep. I had challenged my fears - and I was standing.

Never will I forget the elation I felt standing on the ocean. It was a reminder to my soul that limits are of our own making. And thus, so is adventure. We get to choose the passion we pursue, the adventures we seek, and the happiness and peace we feel in it all.

It just takes the courage to stand where we've been afraid to stand before.