Caught Inside

It’s a metaphor for life.

wAVEBeing caught inside is a term surfers use when stuck in the white water while trying to get to the wave they want to surf. A lot of beginners experience it, paddling out through the white water to get to the spot where you can actually catch the wave. Expert surfers get caught inside too — you’ll notice them diving under the white water of waves that have already broken, but usually they are just paddling out (A broken wave is the white part of the wave). Experts aren’t usually caught inside for long. They know how to read the current, find the channel or the rip tide quickly because they surf a lot and are in much better paddling shape than I am (Channels and rip tides help surfers get past the white water). Intermediate surfers like me can suffer on the inside.

I was in Nicaragua recently and the waves were big. I don’t usually surf big waves these days, but the water was warm and I was ready to surf. So, I was caught inside a lot. Knowing those nice warm waves were out there gave me the mental strength to paddle through the white water, eventually find the channel and get out. Catching one of those liquid freight trains made all the hard work, the suffering to get past the inside, worth it. Some surfers call it “paying the rent.” You don’t get a sweet wave without mother nature noticing, and she’ll make you pay. I probably like surfing so much because it’s such hard work, which makes the payoff amazing. It might also be the reason why I decided to commit to writing and publishing a novel. I can’t imagine the payoff won’t be amazing.

I’m nearing the middle of my fourth rewrite of this novel. Rejected many times before but encouraged to keep pushing, I’ve heard things like, “It’s good. Just fix this.” Or “I like it but it feels like a rough draft or an outline.” Little do they know I worked my ass off on each draft and thought it was a finished product each time. I’m a beginner in this novel writing endeavor, in the white water getting smashed and pushed around by the current, but I can see the wave, the book I want to see on the shelf, so I keep paddling. I keep writing. I sit at the desk and push on the keys to make the words, the sentence, the paragraph, the chapters and eventually the book. I’ll succeed. It’s just a matter of time.

Happy turkey day, if you’re into that.

Untitled designWith time, the seed of envy can grow into a weed. Maybe this metaphor is the impetus for the saying, “green with envy.” Not likely.

I used to get it bad. When I had to work and my friends would head to the mountain without me on a fresh powder day, or the waves were good and my buddies went for a surf and I had to work. I’m shallow, or maybe simple. But I’m not simple when that weed of envy grows into resentment and disdain for responsibility. I get complicated and grumpy, and regress into adolescence.seed

Not to mention Social media — the envy machine. It used to get me bad when I’d see videos of professional surfers and snowboarders flying through waist deep fresh snow or catching perfect waves in some far off tropical climate. It would hit me in the gut when my feed populated with friends and family having fun in Europe, Asia, Mexico, Nicaragua or Colorado. I’ve deleted Instagram, Facebook and Twitter from my phone about four times in the past two years. Then, at some point this year, I finally decided that I was being silly. I’m an adult and I need it for work. So, self-discipline. It’s tough. Some days are easier than others, but for the most part I can manage my social media time.

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Nowadays, I catch envy before those damn seeds take root. But It’s also important for me to recognize the social media monster for what it is. Not real.  In fact, a contrived reality. How many people stop fighting to pose in front of the perfect backdrop or pause an argument to take a selfie? How many professionals suffered through terrible conditions to get the one two-minute take to post on their feed? I don’t know. But I do know what I’m seeing on social media are moments in a day, a full day with a spectrum of situations and moments. I’m glad people can stop arguing for a smile at the camera. I respect the professionals who go out there and suck it up on terrible conditions for a solid shot so they can get a bit of a payday from their sponsor. It doesn’t always work, this positive spin, but I’m trying.

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I occasionally remind myself that I live in one of the few places in the world where I can go snowboarding in the summer and drive to the beach for a surf all in one day — if I want. I just need to make time to do it. So goes the dance.

Beauty

Not a villain, but can insight villainous tendencies.

shutterstock_607375682I can’t define it. As I’ve been told, it’s up to the beholder to define what is beautiful. This makes sense, considering I find my beat up old truck an absolute specimen of perfection and beauty, whereas other people cringe at how dirty and used it is — it’s funny when they shake their heads at me for being so “blind.”

In many a story, beauty will cause someone to falter from a righteous path, a heroic journey or be lured down the low road. This is the villainous side of the coin, so to speak. There are so many stories of beauty; my favorite being the siren song where the sailors of yore are so intoxicated by a beautiful sound, they steer off toward the rocks or jump overboard to their deaths. Transfixed and transmuted by such a beautiful sound, by their need, their desire for beauty, they die. In this, beauty is a dark magic.

In stories both real and imagined, beauty has caused war, strife, death and acts of barbarism so profound it’s difficult to think that beauty was the impetus. Never was it beauty’s fault, but the fault of humankind and our susceptibility to the allure of wanting to own, control and ultimately consume what we perceive as beautiful.

11137821_369397949918145_644810801_nI see beauty in the joy of my children, the smile and laugh of my wife. I find it in philosophy and dissent.  Yes, dissent, especially now, is beautiful. I find it in waves, mountains covered in snow, a clear lake or a river where I know the fish will be.  Whereas the dark side of beauty, for me, is hardly dark — I simply shirk responsibilities for surf, snow or fishing. Hardly villainous, unless being “unproductive” is a mortal sin these days.

shutterstock_590422925I ponder beauty many times a day without even realizing it. Life is a beautiful thing, even when it does kick you in the teeth.

Pain

A villain we all know.

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I’ve been in regular physical therapy sessions for about two years and I still get debilitating back spasms. Three weeks ago, I had to use a cane to get my kids to school. They thought it was cool. It’s not.

One doctor told me a bone spur in my neck was the cause. Another told me it was a twisted 4th Lumbar Vertebrae pulling at my ribs. I’ve been to chiropractors, General Practitioners, Naturopaths, Acupuncturists, Massage Therapists and Surgeons. It boils down to pain management and discipline. I do the exercises and stretches and someday I’ll be strong again.

I hate waiting for it to be “fixed.” I hate the exercises and the stretches.  I want to be lazy, forget about my body and do other stuff — that won’t work. My son wants to wrestle, but “daddy has back pain.” My daughter wants to race, roller skate, play lacrosse, but “daddy has back pain.” I’m determined to beat the pain, win the battle and be the father my kids want and need.

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My friend, Joe Clifford has this shirt. I love it!

It’s not easy. Self-reflection, discipline; I must rest, eat right, exercise with proper form, fix the household items that are safe to fix. I stay off ladders — for the most part — I don’t do my gutters anymore and I’m careful when I lift heavy shit. I’m not going to be the perfect father, the guy who fixes everything with a smile, can lift fifty bags of concrete and still wrestle, but I can try.

 

Many of us live with pain. Maybe our sedentary desk jobs caused the problem, maybe an old injury from our youth — most of my injuries are due to snowboarding, surfing, working as an EMT or landscaping. I was never nice to my back and it’s pissed. I know people who are living with pain from trampoline accidents, motorcycle accidents, car accidents, pool accidents, and stress. With age comes pain, at least in my world.