My new bathing suit arrived on Saturday. I tried it on that night and I liked it. On Sunday afternoon it was 80° in Paradise. Lots of families were on the beach and there were a handful of people in the water. I was ready.
I texted my friend Jo, who was happy to be my go-in-the-cold-ocean buddy. While I waited for her reply, I put my suit on, just in case. I sent her a second note and added, “I’m working up the nerve to go alone since there are so many people on the beach.”
I looked at Cody, sleeping off his recent sports-related limp, then I got a towel, put on my water sandals and starting walking to the beach. I had considered just walking down in my suit, then opted to pull pants and a t-shirt over so that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to feel self-conscious.
My neighbor Shirley was standing next to her husband’s new toy, a ‘65 Corvette still in the very early stages of refinishing. I told Shirley I was going in the ocean, that I had hoped my friend was going to join me, to encourage me, but instead, I was doing it alone.
“Good for you!” she said.
I asked her if she’d be willing to come with me. “Sure!” she said. “Let me just get my sunglasses.” She popped into their trailer and when she came back out I asked if she was in the middle of anything. “Oh just doing the watch me thing for Reuben.” I laughed. “And now you’re gonna watch me!”
“Yes,” she said, “I’ll be your witness.”
We walked to a spot on the sand and I took off my shirt and pants with only a flutter of knowing she was seeing me in a bathing suit. Shirley is in her early 60’s and goes to the gym regularly. I focused on my feet in the sand, strong-walking toward the water. The dry sand turned to squishy wet sand but then it got pebbly and rocky as the cold water gathered around my ankles. I was more focused on the sharp edges under my feet than the water.
I walked back to my clothing pile and put my water shoes on. “It’s too rocky,” I said, extra-tightening the straps and reminding myself that I shouldn’t have a false sense of stability, just because I have shoes on.
“OK, now you can go for it!” Shirley said, and I headed back into the water.
The pullback current was strong but, with my shoes on, I felt sturdier, braver, and I walker further out, bracing as a five-foot wave broke a few yards out and then rolled over me, up to my waist.
The water was cold but the sun took the sting away and I kept walking out. Another big wave crashed a little closer and I met the roll with my left shoulder, my body turned sideway.
The rush of the water was almost too much and I almost got knocked over “OK that’s enough,” I heard myself say out loud, but then turned back to the water and waited for another wave.
This time I intentionally let the water carry me so I could ride it. I didn’t get very far and ended up sitting on the bottom, but most of my body got wet.
I felt great. I felt strong. And it was enough.
I walked out of the water, onto the beach where Shirley was standing. “You did it!”
I raised my arms up, Rocky-like, and let out a big WooHoo!
Did I love it? Not really. I got pounded. I couldn’t relax. And it ‘s scary seeing a big wave breaking and rushing toward you.
But I love that I DID it, that I met my fear with strength and stability. And I had a witness! And yes, I’ll try it again. In calmer surf, and with a friend actually IN the water with me.
What big thing are you ready to meet head on? Do you need a friend to help you take action?