Saturday, October 16, 2010

lately, I've been frustrated with my surfing ability its been months since I had a "good" session. I'm tense when I get in the water, and only slightly less when I get out. I've been in tears nearly every session, and it doesn't matter the quality of the wave, it actually gets worse when the surf is good. or the difficulty, it gets worse when I go to an "easy" spot. Either I'm in tears because I can't do it because it's still above my ability after I've been surfing for so long, or I'm in tears and depressed because I can't even seem to be able to do what I could do a year ago. I'm at my wits end. Just last fall I was starting to drop into overhead waves and now I hopelessly pearl at the god damned jetty. I can't remember the last time I caught a wave and enjoyed it, really enjoyed it. Its like I've lost faith, in everything.

Its not just surfing that I've been struggling with lately. About two months ago I was promoted to "temporary" shift supervisor. I was so excited and proud of myself. But today I had that taken away. I was close to giving it up anyway. I couldn't concentrate. I was making stupid mistakes. I stopped enjoying myself. The guys I was supervising weren't even difficult to supervise, but I buckled under the pressure anyway. I'm so disappointed in myself. But I was in over my head, and my boss had the good sense to pull me out before I drowned. It's disappointing, sure. I thought I could do it, but it was too much too soon. Now I can concentrate on being an amazing machinist. And that's really what I want.

I turned down program director at boys and girls club for a reason. I was a great art teacher, I was one of the best in a city that had the best, in the worst neighborhood in the city. I had some amazing peers, legends in their fields, and I was one of them, to stand with people like Kay and Bill and Mark was an honor, and I knew I was worthy of it. I deserved to be, and I knew it. I would have been at best an average program director, realistically a pretty lousy one, because it wasn't where my heart was. My heart wasn't in supervising. It was in making good parts. And I'm just too dumb or too smart to do both at once.

In fact, if I can be as good a machinist as I was an art teacher after 5 years I'll be pretty kick ass.

That makes me feel better. There were times early teaching art that I was in tears, I did stupid things. I did stupid things and was in tears a lot near the end, but for different reasons. I did stupid things and was in tears a lot, because I cared. I guess that's happening all over again. Growing is painful.

I felt so good after being demoted today. I was sad for about an hour, and then I was so happy that I could go back to just being a machinist again. The two things I was worried about when I took the job were not whether or not I could do it, it was that I would follow the career track of most women in technical fields and wind up managing instead of making, and that I would stop growing as a machinist. I went backwards as a machinist.

The way this relates to my surfing block is this: I've been so frustrated lately its almost like I'm setting myself up to fail. And I know I was setting myself up to fail on my $12 surfboard, learning to surf where no one should learn to surf, but by knowingly setting myself up to fail, I was also accepting that I would fail, and I've lost sight of that. Failing is part of succeeding. Like they said in "Roll Bounce" "If you don't fall, how will you ever know what it feels like to get up?"

One of the first lessons, and probably one of the most important lessons I've learned surfing is that when you wipe out really badly, you don't struggle. The first time I really got tumbled, really held down, I knew this intrinsically after a few seconds. The wave is more powerful than you. You don't know which way is up, so if you struggle, you waste your air and may be holding yourself down for longer, in fact, you usually are. But you are buoyant, your board is buoyant, and waves have a rhythm and cycle and if you just relax, go limp, and give yourself up to the wave it will bring you back up faster than struggling will. But the last two really bad wipe outs I had, I struggled. I even knew better. I made the conscious decision to struggle. I as so angry at myself. I was so angry in general. I wasn't paddling, I was punching the water. I knew at one point I was pushing myself down further. I was so frustrated that I did something I knew was just making the problem worse, and it wasn't working. I had to force myself to give in, and as soon as I did, I recovered. If only life were so simple. I had to give in because I was going to run out of air if I didn't.

I remember the joy of my first real wipe out. I'd slipped off my board a few times, but nothing like that. That was the first time I got tumbled, really tumbled. I was down, I didn't know what was up or down. It was scary. I knew from the beginning that it was coming and if I could get through that, I could keep surfing. I knew there was a real possibility that I would get so scared I would quit. Back then, I still could have quit. I was only out 12 bucks. Less than a sandwich, as Charlie said.

But I realized when I was down there I knew exactly what to do. Go rag doll limp. And when I made it to the surface, it was even better than finally achieving the coveted pop up two years later. I remember that now. Failing really is the first step to succeeding, and lately I've lost sight of that.

Lately I've had the powerful urge to ride the Byrne again. Now I understand. Just like the time I really did drop in on an overhead wave because I knew I could go for it or be pummeled by it. I took it because I was forced to. I didn't even know that the wave was that big until the next day.

Lately, I've been desparate to get back to that. I've gotten lazy by trying too hard. I need to fail if I'm ever going to succeed.

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