If you try to stand on a surfboard in still water, you’ll sink. The board will rock back and forth trying to surface. To stabilize, you must flail your arms wildly and gyrate your body. Balance is a struggle.
When you are surfing, you put yourself in position, pick your wave, and paddle hard. As you accelerate, you gain stability. The wave will pick you up and sling you forward.
Each area of your life—health, friends, family, work, fun—beckons for your attention. If you push too hard in one role, you might neglect another. To grow, you need to take risks and constantly recalibrate priorities. Balance is a moving target. Life can be overwhelming.
When I was a first year teacher in San Francisco, a colleague invited me to surf Ocean Beach before school. Despite being out of practice and away from sunny Santa Monica, I said yes.
The icy NorCal water seeped into my sweatsuit. As a million icicles pricked my skin, I struggled to breathe. The sharp crack of the breaking waves terrified me, especially because the thick fog made them invisible.
Out of nowhere, a gigantic wave broke, pulling me underwater. My body churned violently. I gasped for air. Another wave sucked me under. I lost my board and panicked. Struggling for calm, I swam out of the kill zone toward solid ground. Exhausted and shaking, I found the shore.
When you are wobbly, get in motion. Move toward a more stable foundation.
Always take risks, but stay within your limits. Monitor each area of your life and decide where you need to focus. When you are in motion, make adjustments, and allow momentum to carry you.
Stand up. Smile. Enjoy.