During my final day in Costa Rica, I had the opportunity to do something on my bucket list I had yet to cross off.
I’ve always been a land person—running, hiking, backpacking and camping. I was raised in Louisville, Kentucky—famed for land sports like horseback riding and rock climbing.
To be fair I had spent some time in the water throughout my childhood boating on the lake with my family. Here, I learned how to slalom ski, wakeboard, knee board, and hold on for my life as my dad tossed me around on an inner tube. I had always been pulled by a rope, never by the waves of an ocean.
My only significant beach memory was being dragged out into a rip current as a child, followed by my dad’s efforts to rescue me when I had stepped out a little too far.
So surfing in a foreign Costa Rican ocean was a first, to say the least.
Yet, within a 15-minute timespan, my instructor gave me a quick crash course on the ways of the water, connected a surfboard to my ankle, and started carrying it out towards the waves.
Like a dog on a leash, I had no option but to follow him into the water.
Life is often like that, I think. We’re tossed into new situations, daring environments, and sometimes uncomfortable or foreign waters. Seeing as the world slows for no one, we’re forced to follow in pursuit, and it can be scary or intimidating.
Yet all we have to do, is get in the water.
We don’t have to know where the tide is taking us, we don’t have to know how things are going to end up, we don’t have to know if we’ll succeed or fail. All we have to do, is put our feet in and give life our very best shot.
While learning how to surf, I wiped out a handful of times. I fell face-first, slid back off the board, and sometimes didn’t even get up onto my feet. But at the end of the day, I could walk off of that beach and say I had learned how to surf, and I had ridden a few waves.
So in the end, all of the failed attempts, all of the wipeouts when I went tumbling under the salt water like a ragdoll, all of it was worth it for even just a few moments on top of the board when my eyes were set on the shore, and I was surfing.
Again, this is a lot like life. We fail. We fail maybe once, maybe twice, maybe hundreds of times. But in the end, we find that one lasting success that makes the entire experience more than worth it.
I’ll carry this experience through my entire life, as I continue to fall down and get up. With so much uncertainty in the realm of my future, it’s relaxing to know all I need to do is put my feet in the water and let the waves carry me where they may.