Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Riding the Wave


The older I get, the more of a scaredy cat I become. I'm terrified of cats, for one. Flying, something I've been comfortable with my whole life, is now scary -- especially during moments of turbulence. And big waves in the ocean? Let's just say I cannot hang ten.

My newly developed wave phobia is devastating because I love the ocean. I yearn to be by the sea at all times. I'm happiest on the sand, listening to water lapping up against the shore. Actually, that's a lie. I'm happiest in the ocean, dunking my head and feeling free. My newfound problem is that I can only enjoy the sea when it's wave-free. And nature doesn't always cooperate with my neediness.

The best solution, of course, is to conquer my fear of waves. People swim in wavy waters all the time, unscathed. The key is to swim into the belly of the wave. My instinct, however, is to 
panic and flail in the other direction, until I'm undoubtedly swallowed up by the water and spit out panting, scared and sometimes hurt.

I know the answer to my conundrum. I know I need to face my fear and get out there and just swim into the waves. I know this, and yet I wallow in fear. In Tulum recently, the water cooperated with my neurosis for most of my trip. I contentedly bobbed in and out of the pristine water on most days. On my 31st birthday, however, I was tested by God or The Universe or Poseidon or something... A big wave came and I freaked out. I tried to escape but of course I got pummeled. I emerged from the water topless and scared.

The rest of the day I only dipped my toes in the ocean. I didn't dare enter in far enough to risk having to face a menacing wave. When I moseyed up to the hotel to use the ladies room (No, clearly the ocean is not a suitable option for me) I met a stray cat. The feline blocked me from proceeding. I recoiled and waited for it to pass. Yup, like a true p*ssy.

I didn't check my phone often on that Tulum trip. I typically like to disconnect on vacation. I did check my email at some point on my b-day, though. I opened my "daily inspiration" email from Martha Beck to find these words of wisdom:
The only way to the Place beyond Fear is to do the thing you fear most. This is how to surrender to your best destiny.

Whether it was a coincidence or a message from my fairy godmother, I'm not sure. But I decided to finally heed Beck's advice, the advice I'd been telling myself but not acting on. The next day I would claim the walkway from cats and claim the sea from my scaredy cat self. I was determined but terrified. The next day, however, much to my relief, the water was calm like a bathtub. Still, I floated around and felt free.


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