Sitting Outside: A Surfer’s Perspective On Letting Life Pass You By
Have you ever watched surfers as they sit and wait for the waves to roll in? At most surf breaks, the line-up of surfers stretches from the inside section closest to shore, to the middle section which is usually at the most active peaks, to the outside section where a few surfers sit and wait for the largest of the set waves.
Over the decades that I’ve been surfing, I spent most of my time in the line-up sitting outside, usually way outside, waiting for the biggest and best wave of the day. I always felt that catching the set wave would make the whole surf session perfect. Boy, did I miss a lot of waves waiting for that great set wave to come rolling in.
Over the past ten years or so, I have changed my surfing ideology from “sitting outside & waiting” to “chasing down” as many waves, big or small, as I can. My surfing mantra is now “high wave count,” and “quantity over size.” I must say that I wish I would’ve taken this approach to surfing years ago. I would have caught more waves throughout the years instead of having to play “catch-up” today.
I think about living life the same way I look at surfing. We can let the “waves of our lives” pass by; busying ourselves now and waiting until retirement before we experience the joys of travel, adventure and worthwhile relationships.
I think about the Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman film “The Bucket List,” and I ask why has filling a bucket list become somewhat of a standard mindset for us Americans? Why do we put off the joy of life’s experiences for the majority of our lives when we really don’t know when and how our lives could end?
Throughout my career as a Funeral Director, I have served hundreds of families that lost a husband, wife, mother or father or even children before their time. I have shared solemn visits with spouses who would never have the chance to share the great plans they’d made with a spouse who died unexpectedly. No traveling. No walks on the beach or autumns in New England. No pizza in Naples or cruises through the fjords or Norway.
I see that we all tend to put off the living of life, sometimes for too long. We wait for the set wave instead of catching the many smaller waves that we let pass by.
My wife and I have a bucket list. We also have an active living list; the things we will do in between dipping into the bucket. We realize that a balanced plan for living includes both the present, near future and the golden years.
When I surf, I might not catch the biggest waves all the time but I do catch them sometimes. The point is; we don’t have time to sit and wait for something that may or may not come. I don’t miss those big waves anymore. I’m too busy paddling to catch the wave in front of me.
What are some smaller plans that you want to experience before you dip into your bucket list?