…and ignore that pussy little voice inside your head…
I spend a good portion of my life afraid. It’s a part of me I try to ignore, that little pussy voice that says, “Be careful, you could get hurt, maybe die.”
But it’s always there in the background, whispering, chipping away at my self confidence, trying to turn me into a play-it-safe loser who lives forever.
But, you know, there’s fear, then there’s Fear. The real deal, capital letter and all. That one’s not so typical. The last time that old friend visited was during the triple hurricane heaven/hell swell we got hammered by this past summer. I’d been cleared to surf two weeks prior, after two years of an almost totally sedentary life.
I spent the first day of the swell watching triple-overhead perfection fire while hating myself for being a coward. Couldn’t handle it two days in a row. Woke up the next morning, waxed up, rolled the dice, and got very lucky paddling out. Timed it right, threaded the needle into the lineup.
Ruined a shoulder at Pipe (not on a huge day), thought of waving for help, put my head down and swam in one armed. Which was the right decision, since I’m obviously not dead. I think. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
For the majority of my life I’ve felt confident that there was almost no situation in the ocean when I couldn’t self-rescue. I’ve never had a lifeguard drag my ass up the beach, which is a point of personal pride.
And I could swim for forever. Broken leash, broken board, no big deal. Just ride the current, take your beatings, let it push you to the beach. Ruined a shoulder at Pipe (not on a huge day), thought of waving for help, put my head down and swam in one armed. Which was the right decision, since I’m obviously not dead. I think. Let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
That day, though, as I felt the water each set pushed in get sucked back up the point and out the sea I realized I was being an idiot. Wave-riding skill aside, if I found myself in trouble, I was gonna really be in Trouble. Again, capital letter stuff.
I caught three waves over about five hours, drug my exhausted ass up the beach, made it home before the adrenaline dump, and proceeded to get very, very, drunk.
It’s supposed to get big today. Very Big. Paddling out into a rising swell is one of the things that gives me the capital “F.”
How big? How fast? Surf reports are more or less non-existent for Kauai, which is a good thing. But I haven’t lived here nearly long enough to intuit what certain swell angles will do, how each little hunk of reef is going to react to the Pacific Ocean heaving massive amounts of energy at our shores.
It can go from two feet to twenty in the course of an hour out here, so my palms are sweating and my heart is racing and the wind is starting to blow and I secretly hope it turns on so hard I have an excuse to stay dry.
I’ve been putting in the hours, trying to hammer my body back into shape. I’m not there yet, but I think I’m close enough.
It just sucks that you can’t be sure ’til you’ve been tested.