One of the great things about spending the winter in Maui is being able to take my paddleboard out on the ocean and get some exercise in the warm sun. But even more importantly, to search out turtles, colorful fish, perhaps a monk seal or two and especially to watch for whales. But the ocean is tricky, one moment it is calm, not a ripple anywhere and the next moment the wind comes up and the surface changes. The waves can get big and it can get quite rough very quickly. So I am hesitant to go out unless it looks perfect, calm, flat, with no wind. I want to see clearly down into the depths, just like looking into an aquarium. Days like that however, are few and far between. And even if I start out in calm weather, and it changes in that heartbeat, I don’t ride it out, I am scurrying back to the shore as fast as I can go. But I quickly realized that you cannot time the ocean (much like life, just when you think the moment is perfect, everything changes) so I finally decided just to go for it anyway.
And to my surprise what I did find, even on those day that weren’t totally calm and crystal clear at first, as I was gliding through the water, up ahead I would see a little pocket of perfect ocean. Gazing down I can see right to the bottom, sunlight sparkling all around and enhancing the colors below. A red crab, some coral, colorful parrot fish and maybe a turtle lazily swimming underneath me. Everything is clear. And then the moment is gone, and I am gliding away into more chop. But I don’t give up now and there is another pocket up ahead and I paddle towards it.
Then it hits me that life also has its little pockets of perfect. Times when everything is clear, you are on the right path, things are going as you want them to. And then something comes up that you can’t control, and things get choppy for awhile. But up ahead, there may be another pocket in sight.
I also notice as I am standing high on my board that all the snorkelers around me have their heads down always, searching for the same fish and turtles. Well of course you say, that’s how you snorkel! However, as I’m watching them, I see that very turtle that they are desperate to find, right behind them or off to the side. If they’d only lift their heads on occasion, they might see it too. So I try to keep my eyes on the horizon often, even when I want to look down. You never know what you will see or discover that others may miss.
It occurs to me that if I had never decided to ‘just go for it’, I would have missed all those little pockets of perfect ocean, the calm they give me, the clarity and the beauty to be seen. I’d be sitting on the beach missing the good and the bad, wishing and hoping for something more but never finding it.
So after that moment of inspirational insight, the next time I come down to the beach with my board, the conditions are not perfect, and having learned, I just go for it again. But this time, there are no pockets of perfect anywhere to be found, the whole time I am out there. And I don’t give up looking. But strangely after awhile, it doesn’t seem to matter at all. The day is still warm and views beautiful, I’m getting a good workout and moving forward. So it seems that even in the absence of perfect, you can get what you want, and life can still be good.