No. 21 | Riding the Wave — A Lesson in Patience
I’m the kind of person who likes to take matters into my own hands and make things happen. When I feel like I’m at a standstill, I start to get anxious and fidgety. But for the past couple years, I’ve felt like I’ve been stuck in a waiting period; waiting on my career to take off, waiting on the finances to move cities and apartments, waiting for the maturity to marry my bf, waiting to feel fully healed from past trauma. This whole waiting thing has really tested my patience — and I’m sure I’m not the only who hates to wait. Let’s be real, no one likes to wait. We’ve embedded entire systems into our culture to help safeguard us from the need to wait. Food is fast. Online shopping has same-day delivery. Even love can be found at the click of a button. While I applaud the strides we’ve made in our society’s efficiency, I realize there are just some things that will always require a certain amount of patience. Oftentimes, those things are the sweetest.
When I think of the sweetness of waiting, my mind immediately goes to surfing. Kinda random, I know, but stay with me here. I’ve only surfed a few times in my life but I’ve always been fascinated by it. There really is no feeling like catching a wave. Those few minutes — or in my case, seconds — of defying gravity and being propelled forward by the current are so thrilling that you forget the struggle you went through to catch that wave. And the struggle is real, folks! Most of surfing consists of either paddling past the shore, getting copious amounts of salt water up your nose, panicking that you’ve lost your board or your bathing suit top, or just sitting and waiting for a wave, any wave. Yes, surfing has a lot to teach about patience.
Here are 3 lessons to be learned from riding the wave:
Lesson 1: Patience and focus go hand in hand.
Surfers have to do a lot of prep work before they even step foot in the water. The weather has to be monitored, gear has to be rented, and the shore has to be surveyed for the best spots to catch a wave. When someone makes the decision to surf, it can’t be done half-heartedly. It requires focus. You have to make a decision to go surfing and maneuver your actions to reflect that decision.
The same goes for anything in life. We have wants and needs. If we didn’t want or need anything, we wouldn’t have to patiently wait on anything. When we have dreams and goals, it requires focus to achieve them. As soon as we focus on a goal, the need for patience automatically follows. We need patience as we go through four years of college to get the degree, patience to amend a broken relationship, patience in saving to buy a house, patience in prepping for the perfect wave.
Lesson 2: There are two kinds of patience.
The two major components of surfing are 1. paddling past the shore (active patience) and 2. waiting for the wave (passive patience). Active patience requires work. It’s putting effort into building the thing you’re waiting for. It’s the late nights, the hustle, the 4am runs, or the 50th time you’ve playing the same scale. It’s actively paddling past obstacles and moving slowly towards your goal, one arm stroke at a time.
Passive patience is a different bear. It doesn’t require physical work. It’s waiting on outside factors beyond our control to turn in our favor. It’s waiting on the phone call from a potential employer, it’s waiting for the paint to dry, the rain to stop, or the check to come in. It’s the kind of patience that I can’t stand. Passive patience requires a certain level of trust. When circumstance are outside of our control, it can be unnerving, scary even. But we have to trust that if we are meant to have the things we are waiting for, they will come to us. The wave will come when it comes, it’s our job to make sure we’re ready to ride it.
Lesson 3: Trust the process.
When waiting for a wave to ride, surfers don’t just start frantically paddling away anytime a wave rolls by them. In fact, if the circumstances aren’t right, good surfers will let quite a few waves push past them. Instead, they look far ahead at the horizon and wait for the wave rhythm to make sense. Only when the right wave begins to brew, do they hurriedly paddle with all their might and eventually pop up for the ride.
When we’re in a season of waiting, it can be easy to just try to catch the first wave we see — say yes to a job that doesn’t feel like it fits, sign a contract with a label that feels sleazy, sell our work underpriced. We think that since we’ve put so much work into getting where we are, we need to find a return on our investment quickly. We get into a scarcity mindset and worry that another opportunity is unlikely to come. But little do we know that the winds are starting to turn and somewhere way out at sea, the perfect wave is rolling in. Trust yourself. Trust the process. Know when to wait and when to paddle like crazy.
Until next time,