A Lesson on Focus
Picture this - a beautiful Hawaiian morning, the sun just rising over Haleakala, a perfect 72 degrees. I head out on my OC1 with my friend in hers, and we go south, to a perfect swell, bringing in small but well-shaped waves. I am super excited, as this will be the first time I get to surf in my OC1! As we get closer to the break, I see that the waves are a little bigger than I thought, but I stifled those thoughts of “oh yikes, can I really do this?” and focused on the task at hand. Just. Don’t. Huli.
I see a decent, though small, wave approaching. I take off, hold my line in time with the wave, and catch it with just a few paddle strokes. There it is! That glorious feeling of sitting on top of the world, while you are propelled forward with the power of the ocean. I turn left off the wave and paddle back to the start. That wasn’t so bad! I can do this!! I want a bigger one!!!
The next wave approaches, just a little bigger, and I take it. I get on top and soon I hear my friend yell, “Fly your ama!” I am hesitant, as my brain is also thinking “don’t Huli!”, but I brace and try it, and what do you know... I did it! Another milestone down, another wave coming. I head back to the line up.
I’m feeling more brave at this point, but I know better than to be too confident. I want a bigger wave, but I don’t want to be reckless. But here comes a good one… it’s building a little more than I expected… and now I have no choice… I paddle and catch it and I’m smiling ear to ear! I'm reveling in that "sitting on top of the world" feeling that is oh so intoxicating. I’m getting a little close to shore, so I peel left to get off the back and there in front of me is my friend, trying to get out of my way. I know I'm coming at her, but I’m faster than I anticipated, and the wave is still moving me. I don’t think fast enough. I don’t brake. I can't re-focus. Pow! My bow and her stern collide. You can probably imagine the first word out of my mouth. I feel terrible, I apologize profusely, and I know I’ll be shelling out a few (hundred) bucks to repair that. But I also think about how much more damage I could have caused, not just to her boat, but to her. At that moment, I realized that I had lost my focus on that wave. I was enjoying it, celebrating, and living in the moment, but I was not paying attention to the conditions around me. The ocean is an unpredictable medium, one that requires constant respect and vigilance. I learned a really good lesson that day… take your time, slow your roll, stay focused, and save the celebration for the beach.