I am not a cheater. My wife knows that. I am too stupid to get away with anything like that anyways. She does openly acknowledge the presence of my mistress, though. If fact, she insisted on calling her by that name. ‘My mistress’ is a lighthearted joking reference to my love affair with surfing. She knows the deep rooted passion I have for the sport. Ever since I was a little kid, it drew me in like it held some magical key of life. So I determined early on that one day I would triumphantly ride a wave. Ironically, that opportunity never presented itself until my late twenties.
The day was somewhere back around the turn of the century. I suited up and paddled out just like I had before on a couple of previous failed attempts at a little cove called the Devil’s Punch Bowl. I gazed out unto the ocean that day, waiting patiently, until this little three-foot wave popped up on the horizon and headed my way. Spinning my board around quickly, I dug in and paddled hard. The back end of the surfboard started to elevate as the wave caught up to me. I jumped to my feet and to my amazement and delight, I kept my balance and rode my very first wave. It was love at first ride. The real reward that day, beyond the act of riding the wave itself, rests in the heart of what outdoor adventure is all about.
True outdoor adventure, I believe, is the self-discovery and empowerment that occurs in our lives when we push ourselves one step further than what is comfortable. Ripping down the face of a wave does that for me, but by no means is it the only place where I find that. I notice it hiking in the mountains, backpacking on different trails, riding groovy skateboards in parks, and floating down fast moving rivers. Where ever I push myself, the revelation of who and what I truly am becomes evident through the challenge at hand. Sometimes the revelation is good. Like when I rode the first wave, or made it up a summit I thought beyond my capabilities. Those leave you thinking, ‘wow, I really just did that?’ The empowerment that follows those accomplishments are intoxicating as well as addictive. It builds confidence in your own capabilities and is transferable to other areas of your life. However, there are other times when the revelation is not as good. Like when I didn’t fully commit to a big wave and got munched, or didn’t drink enough water and my quads cramped all the way up and down a mountain. Those thoughts of ‘I didn’t put everything I had into it’ or ‘I didn’t prepare enough’ are hard to digest at first, but end up highlighting areas that need to improve in one’s character. The cool thing about outdoor adventure is that growth is inevitable and that is truly why we need to get out and find out.