We ran right past this sign and into the large, rolling, crashing surf. As a couple of Arkansas boys on our first trip to Northern CA, we had no clue what we were doing.
I was on break from grad school and my brother and I had packed up and moved to Santa Cruz, CA for the summer. On this particular day, the surf was the highest we had seen in the three weeks since we arrived, so we decided to give body surfing a try.
We ran in and battled through some surprisingly powerful waves until we finally joined several teenagers treading water waiting for the next set or “rollers” to arrive. We watched as three boys in a row spotted a wave, turned and started flailing there arms and legs, swimming like mad. Only a moment later, the wave picked them up and the teenagers slide beautifully and effortlessly down to wave all the way to shore where they landed safely.
I thought “that looked easy,” and as soon as the next big wave arrived I did exactly what the teenager did… except I did it about three seconds later then they did.
The wave picked me up, but instead of sliding me effortlessly down the face of the wave it kept picking me up until I reached the top of the wave. It was at this moment the wave crested and launched me forward like a giant from the World Wrestling Federation had just thrown me over the top rope and into the crowd. I looked exactly like the above illustration except that when I hit the water I was closely followed and pounded by the wave. It was like being inside a washing machine that was missing a leg. I was violently flipped, turned, twisted, bounced along the sand until at one point I was perfectly upside down with only my feet out of the water and my head being grinded along the sandy bottom until landed on the shore. At this point, the only thing I remember was hearing roaring laughter coming from the teenagers.
I started feeling better only moments later, however, as I watched my brother do the exact same thing. It really was hilarious… to watch.
After a few more painful attempts I figured out that to catch the enormous energy of the wave you simply had to have enough initial momentum and the right positioning. After catching a few waves, it is easy to see why surfers get so addicted. Having such powerful momentum working for you is an inspiring feeling.
What made me think of this story is a question I have. “Why do some days start great and get better while others start bad and just get uglier?” It does seem that how we start our day can greatly influence the rest of it.
I am going to write a follow up post and add my answers to these questions, but in the meantime I would love to see your thoughts on this question. Hit comment and share!
Andy also wrote the book Change Your Day, Not Your Life, a guide to sustained motivation and more productivity.
See Andy's speaking schedule for an event near you.
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