I am not a cheater. My wife knows that. I am way 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 reference to my love affair with surfing, which she openly acknowledges as a deep-rooted passion of mine.
Ever since I was a little kid, surfing drew me in like it held some magical key to life. Early on I determined that one day I would, in fact, successfully ride a wave. Ironically, that opportunity never presented itself until my late twenties.
The day was somewhere 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 Oregon coast 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.
Beyond the act of riding the wave, the real reward that day revealed itself in what the heart of what outdoor adventure is all about to me. True outdoor adventure 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 encounter it hiking in the mountains, backpacking on different trails, riding skateboards in parks, and floating down fast moving rivers. Whenever and wherever 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 that I thought was beyond my capabilities. Those experiences left me thinking, ‘wow, I really just did that!’ The empowerment that follows those accomplishments are intoxicating as well as addictive. It builds a confidence in my own capabilities that transfers to other areas of my life as well.
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 my character.
The personal growth that occurs from outdoor adventure inevitably leads me to a richer, fuller life and that is real reason why I adventure…