My nine year old Grayson came down the stairs with his phone in hand. "Mommy", he said, "Can you help me find a swell at the North Shore in Hawaii to add to my Surfline App?" (Surfline is an app that gives surfers updates and details about the conditions at the most popular surf spots around the world, from NJ to New Zealand and beyond. As I looked at Gray's app, I noticed that he had the Margate pier, Ventnor pier, States Ave in Atlantic City, and Nazare, Portugal. I smiled and thought to myself wow... to have the life goals of a child...
You see, we live in Southern New Jersey. On the East Coast, we have rather shallow waters, so we don't get very large waves. Nazare, however, is different. Totally different. Nazare is host to some of the world's largest, most dangerous waves, due to the massive canyon on the seafloor. Nazare sees waves well over 60 feet. The current largest wave ever surfed was surfed by Rodrigo Koxa in Nazare at a whopping 80 ft in 2018! Only the world's most elite surfers would ever even dare enter the waters of Nazare during a big Winter swell, yet it was on my nine year old's surf app.
I began thinking about goals. I began thinking about how we have these big dreams and ideas when we are young, and neither the size of the goal nor the ferocity of it are deterrents to us. We believe we can do anything we want. We're told we can be anything we want, so we believe it. That's what we do, us humans... we believe things, based on our own limited knowledge from what we’ve learned up until that particular point in time and we operate within that realm of knowledge. We are told we can be anything and until we are convinced otherwise, we believe what we are told.
Here's the thing: Somewhere along the line (no surf pun intended), we begin to acquire more knowledge and we begin to see the danger in our goals and dreams. When I was young, I only wanted to be Dominique Moceanu, Olympic Gymnast. I was told I could be anything I wanted to be, so I didn’t pause to wonder what the realistic and safe choice was. I just wanted to be a World Champion Gymnast. So I enrolled in my first gymnastics class and became obsessed almost immediately. I would practice every day on my lawn and the trampoline for hours and hours, from early in the morning to late in the afternoon. I begged my Parents to let me take private lessons so I could get better and become a World Champion.
As I began to spend more time at the gym, I watched the elite gymnasts take ballet with an incredibly strict, angry teacher who frankly looked disgusted at their horrible technique. (They looked perfect to me). I heard rumors about how mean she was and how she would criticize what they ate and even lay hands on them, and I’m not talking about prayer, Y’all. Needless to say, I decided right then and there that mayyyyybe Dominique Moceanu was actually not who I wanted to be. I soon decided to switch to competition cheerleading where I could tumble, but have fun and my dream of being a World Champion Gymnast flickered out and died.
The more we learn about the reality of what it will take to achieve our wildest dreams, the less and less confident we become, until one day, we erase that goal entirely from our future. This thought prompted me to have an important teaching conversation with Gray.
I began telling him how awesome it was that he was interested in surfing big waves, and that it would take a lot of hard work to be able to do it, but I said, “It can be done and if it can be done, why can’t it be YOU who does it? You see, Gray, those surfers didn’t decide to surf big waves one day, while sitting on the couch watching surf vids with their buddies. Their astonishing achievements came after years of paddling out in great conditions, and in poor conditions, when the tide was coming in, and when the tide was going out, when the water was warm, and when the water was bone-chilling cold. They have all been told they are crazy, they’re going to die, how could they put that much time into surfing, don’t they have real jobs? Big wave surfers have suffered years of being beaten and bruised by the sea, the land and those in it, yet they put in years and years of work and they don’t give up. It’s hard, yet I guarantee that any surfer who has surfed Nazare and lived to tell about it will tell you that it was the absolute most incredible experience of their lives and that nothing on the earth could bring them the kind of rush and euphoria that a big wave can. It can be done AND it takes a hunger for it and a commitment to it to be able to surf a big wave, no matter what it costs. I’m not saying to become a big wave surfer or not to… but whatever you do, do it 110% and don’t let anyone discourage you.”
After that conversation, as Gray walked up the stairs, scrolling through the details of the Hawiian surf spots that I added to his app, most likely completely forgetting the (what I thought was) beautiful lesson that I taught him, I turned the thought on myself. At least SOMEONE should get something out of this lesson, I thought! So I pondered…
When have I had a dream or an idea that I felt completely confident in, but gave up on, because of fear or because of the amount of work it would take to achieve it or because someone (or many) discouraged me about it or warned me about it? When have I run away from my Nazare? You see, the first step is awareness, but after the awareness comes the magic, Rockstars. Once you identify the Nazare in your life (the things or things you too, have given up on for the same reasons), then you can begin to unravel the lies you’ve been telling yourself and create a plan to get back on track. I hope that you are able to dig up your Nazare, because we all have it and you hold the keys to your future. You have ONE life. ONE. And it is your’s. No one else will live your life for you so no one else gets to tell you what to do with your life. Notice in this photo how there is ONE surfer and MANY watching. It's easy to criticize from the shore, but those people don't have the guts to do what the big wave surfers do. As the old adage says, no guts, no glory. So... what’s it going to be, Rockstar? Are you going to take a pass and sit on the shore watching as others surf your wave, or are you going to get out there, put in the work, lay down the fear, disregard the negativity, run after that board and paddle out? Until next time Shore Locals and Rockstars, I’m sending you peace, love, and good vibes from my beach chair to your’s!