What I Learned From the Waves

Last week I spent four days in South Beach, Miami with my girlfriend.

If I ever needed a vacation/break, this was the time. We planned it intentionally because ever since I moved to Boston 5 and a half years ago, it's right around this time of year that I want to rage and throw tantrums. Wait, did I say "want to"? I meant, I do.

So, we planned a little get-away so I could thaw out some, soak up some rays to make much-needed vitamin D and generally get some perspective of life outside of the cold, grey weather here up nawth (that's how we say it, here).

Right before we left, I was really battling some intense emotions and I hoped the trip would help me sort them out. As usual, when we set an intention and ask the Universe for support--we get exactly what we need.

I started by downloading an ebook by author Byron Katie--it was a recommendation from my friend and fellow coach, Michelle Pfennighaus. It's called, "Who Would You Be Without Your Story?" and I cracked it open (and it cracked ME open) on the flight down to Miami. By the time we landed, I already had some tools in my wee head. The book is basically a transcript of Katie talking to different conference attendees about their Work--google Katie and you'll see what I mean.

My Work? Well, a lot of is about something I have absolutely no control over---other people.

I realized a lot of the emotions I had were reactions to people doing or saying or doing things that I didn't like, approve of, want to hear, etc. From politicians calling women sluts on the air to friends and strangers calling me "lady" every 5 seconds, to my parents telling me I was "too much" as a child. How about people driving through crosswalks? And that goddamn x-ray thing I have to walk through at the airport. I felt like I had no control over all of this.

I realized the truth: I don't.

Want to know when I realized this? In the water. With the waves.

As a child, I got caught in the undertow and haven't been a fan of the beach ever since. Our trip began this way, with me mumbling and grumbling about the sand grains between my toes and the wind, and the sweat...ick. Mumble, mumble. Complain, complain. "I don't like the beach." Who would I be without my story...?

But on our second day there, I decided it was time for some spiritual inspiration. I knew I had to face whatever was blocking me from enjoying this enormously powerful and gorgeous force of nature: the Waves. So I walked down to the surf. I sat down in the sand and let the water come over my toes and up to my hips. I shuddered and smiled. It's Miami, but it IS February, after all.

Within a few minutes, I crawled closer and felt more and more water swirl around my hips, up to my waist. I moved closer and closer and eventually ended up knee-deep, keenly aware of the spiritual experience happening within me.

The waves rolled in toward me, I stood my ground and they rolled past---curling forward and smoothing out onto the beach, almost caressing the sand and the seaweed that lived there.

I waded a bit deeper, where the waves were a bit rougher and I found myself trying to hug them as they came toward me. But they moved through and past me...not at all phased by my weak attempts to wrassle them into submission.

Then I got it: there will always be another Wave. No matter how hard I try, there will always be something that is coming toward me. And my best efforts to resist or constrain or rally against won't change it's path, purpose and meaning in my life.

If I welcome it instead, I'll feel the same peace I felt with those shallow waves. Here they were coming toward me, and I stood there and smiled, unfettered, expecting their arrival every time.

I released my need for them to stop coming. I released my association of them being dangerous and scary, like they were when I was 5. I accepted that reality and realized the connection to my life.

There will be person after person who calls me lady or ma'am or girl or my personal recent favorite, "Miss Dillan" (because I'm the picture of a lady, right?) despite my best attempts at presenting as male. I can't shout at or correct everyone who does this. I don't need to. It was only causing me intense anxiety and frustration. There will always be someone who bugs us, is late to work, doesn't do their job, doesn't clean their room, cuts us off in traffic, shoves us out of the way with their shopping cart.

There will always be another wave.

Might as well grab your boogie board and surf, pals.