Diana's article for the OC Register published Feb. 15, 2013
original article here
By DIANA CHRISTINSON / GUEST COLUMNIST
About a year ago I was asked by a friend why I didn't surf and my immediate answer was fear.
The fear of not being a strong enough swimmer, of not being able to control the conditions, or not having enough breath when I really needed it, but most of all the fear of the raw and awesome force nature packs behind a powerful wave as it hits the beach. It's a strange sensation, as I feel so connected to the water whether I am on it, in it or just listening to the white water as it comes ashore in the aftermath of the same powerful wave I am so fearful of.
My 20 years of yoga practice have taught me to surrender rather than struggle and stay in the flow. Yoga has given me breath and core strength for what would seem to be the perfect foundation for learning how to stand up and ride a wave, yet my fear continues. It's confusing. Water is my home. How can I invite it in to where I live? I am encouraged by a Sanskrit term in traditional Indian culture, sva dharma, meaning "self path," or really, "your path." When the pull is strong and the passion is clear, humans naturally understand and follow their sva dharma.
The film "Chasing Mavericks" is a story inspired by famous big-wave surfer Jay Moriarty. Moriarty started surfing when he was 9 and began training to surf the big waves at Mavericks in high school. In the film his mentor, long-time surfer Frosty Hesson, trains him to not surf big waves, but how to survive them. During part of the training, he asks Jay to write an essay on fear. The most powerful, inspiring part of the movie was Jay's response and what he was truly afraid of.
He lived his sva dharma. Despite the danger of facing off with a 20- to 80-foot wave at any moment, he is drawn to the big surf by something he has found inside himself. Heeding this internal path, he finds the courage and allows his passion to show him the way. In the film, Moriarty challenges the universal question, "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?" For me it raises the question, "What am I willing to fail at in order to succeed?"
Modern life has a way of forcing us out of our comfort zone. It may be a small, simple task, speaking the truth or making a difficult decision. You do not have to ride a 40-foot wave to practice courage. Courage is found in the little corners of our lives – the daily business of working and loving. Poet and author Annie Dillard reminds us to bring our passion and courage into every minute and hour of the day: "How we spend our day is of course how we spend our lives."
I'm still scared of the water but my friend and home is calling. This is an opportunity to step out to practice courage and passion. Today is a great day for surfing.