Lessons from Water

Take a break, turn the sound on, and watch Lessons from Water. I thought it might be a bit twee but it was actually lovely.

The images are fantastic and the underlying message is quite appropriate. It’s not just water, everyday humans are bombarded with messages of their own power and then nature shows it’s power. With water and wind and subtle changes in the earths plates havoc is wreaked and we humans are shown that we’re not so masterful.

If we can learn the lessons, to cede, and to sustain and to prevail maybe we can do more.

My most amazing water experience was in 1990.

I was training hard for wave ski competitions and driving from Auckland CBD out to Piha a couple of nights a week.

There had been a big storm so the waves were huge and lumpy. I took the rip by the keyhole to get out the back of the waves and sat and took my turn to ride a monster into the beach. They were so big that they seemed to almost have waves within themselves, these weren’t the nice clean waves you see at the big breaks.

I got ditched fairly quickly on my first wave and, because I’d never mastered eskimo rolling I unclipped from my board. Big, big mistake. As I tumbled, holding on tightly to my paddle, not knowing which was up because the sea was a mass of dark swirling bubbles all I could do was allow myself to be pummelled into shore. It was the only time that I thought “this is it” but there was nothing to fight so I relaxed and went with it. Eventually I popped up, still a long way from shore.

I paddled out again, and caught another wave. I got ditched just as quickly but this time I didn’t unclip and in no time at all I popped out behind the wave. With my body strapped to the ski we floated to the top of the wave where it couldn’t take us with it, as opposed to earlier when I’d be down in the driving body of the wave.

It was a salient lesson in the physics of a wave. I suspect that surfers and sailers have a greater respect for the sea because they understand and rely on it’s power. When I was a life guard with SLSNZ it was always the less experienced who got into trouble. The old hands pushed the boundaries, too, but somehow didn’t come unstuck quite the same.

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