Floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I had a choice: stay put until I was eaten by a shark or exert some effort. I was exhausted and chapped, and I was seriously pondering giving up. All the excitement of my first time surfing had washed away with the realization that I could not just wait there and do nothing. I began to wonder why I had even agreed to this adventure in the beginning. It all originated with my cousin, Casey’s splendid idea to end our family’s Hawaiian holiday with surfing.
Our vacation ended with a trip to my grandparents’ old church around the corner in Kalihi, Oahu. We were introduced to many new people – and foods, including something grey squished out of something green. The most profitable encounter we had that day was meeting the pastor’s son, Mike. He was in the U.S. Navy and could give us free surfing lessons on the military’s private beach, Barbara Point. Naturally, Casey, my cousin, immediately began his entreaties to our parents and grandparents to be allowed to take up Mike’s offer. After much negotiating and maternal concern, the three of us set our surfing lesson for the last day of our trip.
Out on the sand, Mike gave us a brief tutorial. However, in my excitement I missed a vital instruction – the current will take one down the beach. In order to stay in the same spot or move up the beach, one must continue paddling. Swift to be the first one to fall off the board, I charge across the sand like a classic Baywatch episode (that is, minus the bikinis and hot lifeguards). The harsh waves slapped my face as I overcame the swell to get to where Mike was beckoning us. It did not take too long before the ideal wave approached, and Mike was ready to push us off.
My first trip down to the shore was not too eventful, because I never made it up on my feet. As expected, Casey hopped up, did some tricks, and came in with the perfect surfer dude pose for the camera. Mike was patient with Aaron and me, however, and watched for another wave to send us. It was in these delays that I began to have a problem. The sun was beating down, and my muscles were aching for a break.
I stopped paddling and laid my head down. When I heard Mike call my name, I assumed it was time to surf again. As I look up, I have drifted far away from Mike and my cousins. I freaked out, paddling like a maniac to get back to them. Of course, thoughts of sharks and submarine missiles automatically pop into my head. It was then I grasped how people fall away so easily in life. It is when we get fatigued that we, not give up, but take a break. If we are not continually focusing and refocusing on our purpose, it is so easy to stop pushing ourselves. Traveling the wrong way does not just occur when we turn around our surfboards and paddle, but when we do not paddle at all.
Luckily for me, however, Navy officer Mike was a superb swimmer. He even caught me in time for me to take one last try at surfing. This final time I succeeded and surfed all the way to the shore. Twenty-four hours later I arrived back in Alabama, where the only extreme water activities include a pontoon boat and flotation devices. On the bright side, there are no sharks in Lay Lake.
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