In the 4 years that we’ve lived in San Diego I’ve learned to love bodyboarding. It’s one of my favorite Sabbath activities. And while I’m not great at it I love trying.
The concept of bodyboarding is fairly simple.
- You swim out past the break point of the waves. (Just past where they are cresting) Most often for me this isn’t really swimming as you can still touch the bottom. I’m kind of a wimp so I don’t like to go out past where I can touch the bottom.
- You bob around going over small waves and diving under bigger ones, waiting for the right wave to come along that you’d like to ride.
- When you see a wave you’d like to ride, you position yourself by paddling or pushing off the bottom so that you and your board are on the shore side of the wave… then go.
- When you are on the wave you are kind of at the mercy of it. You can steer a little and you can decide when to hop off. But riding a wave is done with the understanding that the wave is really in control and you’re just along for the ride.
When it goes perfect is exhilarating. But when you do it wrong you get beat up, held under water, flipped, and dumped off where the little kids play near the shore. It’s humiliating and painful to get it wrong.
One of the hardest things to do is watch someone who is trying to learn how to bodyboard but hasn’t figured out how it works yet. They stand in the break of the waves, the water pummels them over and over again. Occasionally, they get it right and enjoy a ride. But all too often they time their attempts badly, get held under water, cough up sea water, and walk away with a bloody nose.
Fighting the ocean is pointless. But all day long you can watch tourists try.
The Exhilaration of Getting it Right
The best times of bodyboarding happen when the waves are just a little too big for your comfort level. You are diving under more waves than you are riding. And you kind of dare yourself into going for a big one here and there, hoping not to get pummeled.
But sometimes you see a wave that was born way out there just for you. You grab it, and with childlike glee you speed along dodging swimmers and fellow boarders.
Getting it right is like no other feeling out there. Getting it wrong is painful and humiliating.
The Bloodless Revolution
What we see happening in our culture right now is a lot like a day of big wave bodyboarding. There’s big waves of change happening. You can see it out there and you can feel it from the shore. Longtime experts are mixing it up with newbies, in-line, waiting to ride the next big wave. Everyone is trying to figure it out together. Getting it right is exhilarating and mysterious, but getting it wrong is painful, humiliating, and leaves you bloodied.
The simple reality is this: Everyone is invited out to the line. Everyone is given the same opportunity to figure out how to join in the fun. But everyone in line, those trying to figure it out, do so in full knowledge that the sea of change we are seeing is stronger than us– might bloody us along the way– and are exhilarated by the challenge.