Have you ever gone body surfing?
The list of sports that feel extreme to me is long. I’ve never gone body surfing or skydiving, bungee jumping or paragliding. I don’t relish the idea of spelunking or summiting Everest. I opt not to ski, roller skate, or skateboard. I think I might actually like snowshoeing, but in general, the less between my feet and the ground the better. It has always been so.
I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was twenty-seven. I was forty-two the first time I took to the skies in a Ferris wheel. To this day, I have yet to brave a roller coaster. Once at an amusement park I stood in line with my companion for a “laser light beam show.” Just as our group was the next to crush through the doors, I caught a glimpse of the whirling buckets inside.
“This is a ride,” I panicked.
“Yeah,” my companion was gleeful.
“I’ll meet you on the other side,” I said, and pushed my way back through the crowd, climbing over the fence that corralled those waiting to go in.
It’s not to say that I’m anti-speed. At the top of our farm where I grew up, the pasture opened into a huge oval. I loved to canter my horse around and around in circles, like rocking on the wind. On the Autobahn in Germany I pushed my mother’s new Saab until the odometer needle tapped 115 mph and the look on my mother’s face said “slow down … now!” I still drive just a little too fast nearly every time I get behind the wheel, and not because I am in a hurry.
So why not try body surfing? Truth be told, I’m a little sorry my rock concert-going days never included a crowd surfing experience. I think I’d quite enjoy that. Just as I used to love it when my brother would pick me up and set me atop the refrigerator, a perch where I could see everything but couldn’t fathom how to get down. Thus, it’s not really a control issue either. It’s a question of where my thrills come from. Writing words, check. A great book and a really brilliant cookie, absolutely. A long walk in the rain by the ocean, most definitely. Those moments, few and far between, when I fully answer my children’s needs, perfect. Martini night with a dear friend, heaven. These are my rollercoasters, my versions of flying high, plummeting swiftly, the view from the top.
How does any one of us get there? How do we dive and soar? How do we find the courage to jump, the fortitude to free-fall, the energy to take on the new and scary, the presence of mind to recognize and play through?
More questions without certain answers—but my suspicion is that our best practices are our guides. When I took that first timid step onto a yoga mat, I didn’t need five classes, I didn’t even need five minutes to know that I had found a place I felt at home. Two feet by six feet of eco-unfriendly vinyl became a place I could explore my body and thus my mind, inside and out. Too numerous to detail, the highs and lows of my practice evolved quickly from once class a week to twice to three times in the studio with home practice in between. I was hooked.
Like a mountain climber who looks to the next peak or an aerialist flying higher, I seek ever alluring, often elusive yoga summits. When a big pose comes, it’s breathtaking; when it doesn’t, the journey holds me.
There are people who claim their practices, yoga, meditation, reiki, running, make them more even: the highs not so high, the lows not so low. For me my practice makes me less reactive, perhaps, but also better able to be in the moment—those highs are a thrill, the lows a crushing blow. But I dive into those spaces, recognize them, and move on to the next when it’s time. I’m learning to let go, to move, to surf and head back for more when the water is fine. Have I ever tried body surfing? Aren’t we all riding the waves all of the time?
Happy Full Pink April Moon, xoR