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  • Tori Quinn

Learn to Surf, Learn to Live


About a year ago, I went to Hawaii for the first time. As some of you know, I fell in love with the place and ended up calling it my home for four months...but that's another story. Right now, I'm looking over my notes from the morning I spent learning to surf. If you've ever seen me learn something, you know I'm an academic at heart, carrying my pen and paper with me wherever I go. Unfortunately, this method doesn't work too well under water, so I just wrote what I remembered from the lesson afterward...

Lesson 1:

The surf instructor stereotype is completely accurate.

Type "hang-loose, dude!" into Google and my surf instructor will pop up. I never saw his eyes under the sunglasses he never took off, so he could've been anyone, really...except Colbie Caillat, because he was definitely at a party with her the night before, and that's the only thing I remember us talking about other than surfing. Without fail, every phrase that came out of his mouth ended with "yeah!"

The blue rash guard I wore was the first of my worries. It nearly swallowed me whole before the ocean could! After the land lesson, we rode to the beach in the bed of his truck. When we got out to sea, at first, it was so hard not to be frustrated with myself. Why couldn't I do this as easily as he made it seem? At first, I was dreading spending my morning doing this. Salt water in my eyes and missing it each time...ugh! But, then, after what seemed like the trillionth time of getting up and down, I finally got it down! At least in a rookie way. And I'm glad I endured all the different types of waves that came that morning. The whole experience gave me such a valuable perspective!

Here are four things I learned about surfing that are good advice for life in general, too:

Intentional strokes are better than anxious paddling.

Don't do more than you need to or you'll just exhaust yourself! Work smarter, not harder. Paddle with intentional strides.

Wait until the right wave is under you to stand up.

This principle goes along well with the one above. Patience is powerful. If you're too anxious to jump into something too soon, you'll miss the timing and have to try catching another wave. My instructor let me know that surfing was historically a sport for royalty, and I'll never forget how he said "Remember, royalty doesn't rush."

Let the waves move you.

It's important to surrender to the fact that the waves move you and that you don't move them. Understand that we have power to navigate waves in life. We can't control the waves themselves, so don't try to fight them or manipulate them. Practice wisdom and humility, having a correct assessment of yourself and your place. You can't control everything around you, but you can control how you navigate it.

Don't look down. Look to where you want to go.

It's important not to spend all your time looking down at the positioning of your feet on the board as you're surfing. Fix your eyes on where you want to go, instead of focusing too much on yourself, to reach that spot.

You can click here to see some of the surf lesson!


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