Everything comes in waves and eventually you’re going to fall.
On the beach I stand, toes dug into the sand; I feel safe. Looking out into the vast sea, one more step and I will enter a world of unknown territory with depths reaching farther than the highest peaks. Mother Ocean can make even the strongest of men feel meek and unworthy.
The flow of the water rises and falls like the seduction of a belly dancer, taunting me to move to her rhythm.
At the perfect moment, I take one last breath before the salt water wraps me up in her cool caress. My eyes slightly burn and my lips pucker from the salt. I feel clean inside and out.
I begin to paddle, my legs and back are strong, ribs pressed into the top on my surfboard. I fixate on the swell ahead of me. Like a well-oiled machine my arms move—left then right, left then right. This movement becomes my life source. I glide over the top of the water just as a pelican does in search of food.
Heart pumps, it’s in my throat, fatigue sets in almost immediately but my adrenaline pushes me forward toward the rising swell. Filling my lungs with air, I must hit the wave at just the right moment or she will unmercifully toss me like a rag doll in a washing machine. I bow my head forward slightly as if to say, I honor you, Mother Ocean and push my knee into the center of the board, wrap hands on the sides and push into the wave as she passes over my back and softly whispers, it’s my turn to play.
I have come to understand that a wave will turn on you the instant she smells disrespect.
From behind the wave, sunlight hits my eyes—the salt water immediately begins to dry my face. A well-oiled machine, not missing a beat and my arms know exactly what to do—paddle, paddle, paddle.
When the wind is low and the water looks of glass, I coast with ease, but today the wind blows fiercely and the caps of the swell are wrecked and it takes every ounce of strength to flow to her rhythm.
Continually moving—trying—positioning so she won’t swallow me whole, but then the reward is sweet behind the waves. She cries out, you’ve found my softer side.
I could sit in the ocean for an eternity, legs dangling into the unknown, waiting for mermaids to tickle my toes, but today I came for the rush—to concur with her tides.
I bow to you, Mother Ocean; she who birthed me and to which I will return.
Instinct from my mammal roots moves me into position and I paddle, paddle, paddle. The only thing I hear is the sound of my breath: slow, steady and strong.
No need to look back; I feel it coming. She gently draws me into her as if to say, I am you and you are me. Together we race toward the shore.
I stand up and look down on the wave. I lean back slightly almost free falling for a moment, but my board connects me to the wave and I am free. I am alive.
The ride will only last a few short moments, but in that time I am connected for an eternity.
If I’m lucky, the wave will gently lay me back down on my board, but today she’s bored and wants to play with me. One slip in my step and she reminds me that she cannot be conquered and tosses me like her rag doll. I am meek and unworthy as I twist and turn not knowing which is up or down. All I can do is hold my breath until she decides she’s had enough fun and allows the water to quiet down so the ray of sunshine can guide me to the surface. My heart is back in my throat and my head is dizzy with fear.
I have come to understand the wave will never be tamed.
Exhaustion sets in and I am ready to feel safe. I paddle myself to shore and lay in the sand. The sun dries the salt water on my face and I am free. I am alive.
Everything comes in waves.
Alli Akard is an ever evolving, never settling, always-questioning woman of the world, but it is the simple things that keep her attention. Not one for living on borrowed time, she strives to create a little magic in each day. She’s also been known to have competitive snail races on Tuesday afternoons with her kids.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel