Riding the Wave

Sounds like a surfer term doesn’t it?  In some respects it is.  The symbolism certainly derives from the sport of surfing, and for those of you who do tackle what I perceive to be an incredible difficult activity to master, well done!


In life the challenges are no different the practice of surfing, and understanding the concept of Riding the Wave will aid you in your journey. For those of you who have attempted surfing, or have at least spent some time in the ocean, this metaphor will make the most amount of sense.  For those of you who have not, I implore you to dive deep into your imagination to help this all make sense.  Once you accomplish Riding the Wave with some degree of success, you will find immediate satisfaction as the various fragmented pieces in your life begin to fall into place.


On a recent trip to Australia, I learned the difference between riding a 2 foot wave on a long board, in the shallow waters of Waikiki with the aid of an instructor, vs. riding 5 foot waves on a short board, in the much deeper waters in the North Shore of eastern Australia, with no aid other than shouting words of encouragement.  I learned very quickly to respect the ocean, and respect the power and control it could exert over me.  With the smaller waves of Waikiki, I could man handle them a bit and exert my own opposing force.  Sometimes I would get pushed back a little bit, but in the end my desired direction would always prevail, regardless of the direction of the waves.  In Australia this was not the case, and the more I tried to fight the direction of the tide, the more frustrated and tired I became.


The more experienced surfers understand this far better than me, and have learned that through a mutual respect with the ocean, they do not have to fight as hard, and can reduce the risk of injury.  To paddle out, many experienced surfers will seek a rip tide, an area along the shore where the power of the waves funnel and a strong outward current is created.  While rip tides can help a surfer paddle out with more ease, they can also be very deadly, and a spot where surfers can get caught and swept out to sea. In absence of a safe rip tide, surfers will duck dive the wave breaks in order to get to a starting position.  Understanding how to properly duck dive can save a lot of time and energy on the paddle out.  Once in position, it becomes a matter of speed, agility and experience to get on top of a wave.  And even then, the wave can curl over unexpectedly and send a surfer plunging into the swirling water below.  Getting smashed by a wave is harrowing experience.  The wave has the power to turn you end over end like a rag doll in the spin cycle of a washing machine, and the last thing you want to do is panic. One mouthful of water can leave you breathless and without the energy to battle the continually pounding waves.  However, with more experience, surfers begin to understand the will of the ocean, and ride the wave with a great amount of success.


So what does this have to do with life?  How does the metaphor apply?


In my opinion, the ocean is one of the best metaphors that we have for how humans experience life.  Adulthood will always present a number of challenges, and at times you will feel overwhelmed, and even drowned by the experience.  This is where the concept of Riding the Wave Comes into play.  Believe it or not, the ocean is not determined to drown you, it is actually there to guide you.  Riding the Wave is dependant upon a delicate partnership that exists between rider and ocean.  Try to plow through the break, and the ocean will put you in your place.  Respect how the waves are crashing, and if you are patient you will see a moment where the waves calm down and the ocean invites you to paddle out.  Once past the break, you ready yourself to surf, and when the time is right you paddle hard, steady yourself of the board and catch the wave.  You do not dictate the direction that the wave will break, you simply respect how the wave is breaking and enjoy the ride. Have I lost you yet?  If so, get a friend to read this section and explain it to you, if they still don’t understand then keep asking friends, someone will get it.



In life we are constantly paddling out and catching waves back in.  This is the ultimate metaphor for life, working hard toward a goal or reward, reaping that reward, and then doing it all over again.  We are not always successful, and with each failed attempt we learn something and apply it to the next time.  Those who are most successful, have a great respect and understanding for how the ocean moves.  They study and learn to anticipate it’s direction.  They learn how far they can go in manipulating their actions, while still respecting the overall direction of the wave.  The best surfers can weave up and down a wave, carve the top, and push the limits as to how far under the curl they can go before getting dunked.


Life, like the wave, also has a direction for you, and those who are the most successful, learn to respect and understand how to utilize that direction to suit their needs and desires.  This is the basis behind the theory of Riding the Wave.  Understand and respect the direction life has in store for you, and you will be able to turn it into the greatest ride that you could possibly imagine.  When I was in Australia I learned this very concept, and I can honestly say that I was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.  When I woke up in the morning, I would ask myself if I was happy, if I wasn’t, then I knew that I was no longer riding my perfect wave.  So during the day I would keep my mind open to new opportunities, and when one felt right, I followed it.  This is what led me to a number of amazing places, and into the lives of a number of amazing people.  Even Thursday Island, a place I did not overly enjoy, was part of my life’s journey.  At the moment when I had completely run out of cash, the universe sent me a wave that took me to a place where I could save money while living and eating for free.


If getting up in the morning is a struggle, if you despise your job, if everyday feels like a battle against a continuous onslaught of waves cashing down upon you, then you are fighting the ocean instead of riding the wave, and you need to do something about it.  I read a statistic recently that claimed 80% of people are working toward careers that do not suit their natural talents and abilities.  80%! That implies that 80% of people are fighting the current to get to someone else’s perfect wave instead of their own.  Why do people do this?  For the money? Prestige? It doesn’t make any sense.  This is why I highly encourage travel, it is a way for you to find out what the universe has to offer.  A way to find out what your perfect wave looks like.


I am not suggesting for a moment that we have a specific destiny that is predetermined and out of our control.  What I am suggesting is that we have a universe that is guiding our paths toward the greatest amount of success.  This does not mean that we can sit idly by and wait for things to happen, quite the opposite.  We have to paddle hard in order to get past the break and position ourselves for that next wave.  It is a conscious decision that requires hard work and a willingness to learn and grow.  We choose which wave to ride, but the universe chooses what direction it will crash, and how it will break.  Sometimes we get dunked over and over again, and it seems as though the universe is simply out to get us.  I would argue that for many, it is less a case of bad luck, and more a case of poor decision making.  Learn how the universe flows and you can catch a great wave, try to fight against this and you will continually get dunked.  We all have the power of free will, choose your path wisely, and everything will fall into place.

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