There are few things better in life than the initial rush of endorphins you get when you realize you truly love what you’re doing. It can come when you’ve been doing something for years, day in and day out, but I feel it the strongest when I first discover something that I’m passionate about. I was lucky enough to have that feeling this weekend when I tried surfing for the first time.
While I consider myself pretty outdoorsy and athletic, I’d always been pretty hesitant to try surfing. I hate how saltwater stings my eyes and tangles my hair. Watching my brother, a guy with amazing agility and one of the most natural athletes I know, learn to surf, pretty much convinced me that I would be terrible at it. So when I went to world-class surf beaches in Costa Rica last year, I didn’t even touch a surfboard, preferring to bask in the sun in my comfort zone.
Tropical, sunny Costa Rica is a much less hostile environment to learn to surf than the icy waters near Tofino, BC, which is where I went this weekend. Sometime, over the past year or so, I’d decided to try surfing. Maybe it was making a lot of new Aussie friends, maybe it was just a desire to try something new, I’m not sure. But something changed and I’d now decided that surfing was something I should try. I knew it would be hard—I didn’t expect to stand up, or even catch a wave. I was banking on mainly just paddling out to where it was a little calmer and just enjoying the serenity of the ocean. So when I caught a wave (lying down of course) an hour after I’d put on my first wet suit, fastened my first surf leash around my ankle, and paddled on my first surfboard, I was completely taken by surprise.
It’s funny what memory allows us. I don’t remember my muscles aching from paddling as hard as I could, I don’t remember being uncomfortable in my too-small wetsuit, I don’t remember any salt water anywhere near my eyes and I don’t remember eventually falling off my board, which I’m sure happened. All I remember from that first wave was a feeling of extreme euphoria – a feeling that couldn’t be washed away later in the day when I inevitably wiped out, that couldn’t be shed when I peeled the wetsuit off, and that’s sticking with me now, even though my rented surfboard has been returned.
It’s this lasting feeling of euphoria that gives way to passion for me. Not only a new passion for surfing but also a reminder of a passion for trying new things. Especially once we find something we’re really good at, I think it’s tempting to put all our passionate energies into the passions we’ve already spent time cultivating. But it’s these surprising new passions that can sometimes make the biggest impact on our very fibers. Being introduced to something new and loving it more than you thought possible is so incredibly valuable, it would be foolish to stick with what we know.