I had a day-dream recently. I was walking home along the river when an image, an event, filled my thoughts. It wasn’t a memory, more like a hypothetical…

I was in my wetsuit, board under my arm, running down to the water. I could see the waves, long and perfectly formed, and was excited to get out there. I hurried down the shore and just as I felt the wet sand sink beneath my feet and the water wash around my ankles… I tripped on my leggie.

One minute, I was running and smiling and excited, the next I was face down with a mouth full of sand and humiliation. The legrope was twirled around my ankles, stringing them together, binding me. My board was caught under my arm, the pressure pressing back on both my board and my shoulder. Creased? I tried to shift my arm. My hair was plastered across my eyes, there was a dull ache in my lower back. The water washed under me, filling my face with sand, sucking at my body.

I lay there, still. Ashamed. Numb. All the excitement vanished. I knew the waves were still there, the same long peelers running along the beach. I knew if I got up, I could get out there and catch them. But, well, could I? What would happen? The break was busy, so if I got up again and paddled out, what would happen? What would be said, or not said? Was I up for swallowing the remnants of my pride and laughing at myself? Or would I detach myself from my board and return to the safety of my car? Would I cry? Options, options.

With the shame rising in my chest, I lay there, thinking, the wash filling my mouth, nose and eyes with sand…

And then I was back, back by the river in the city. Dry and walking and listening to some kind of fluffy late-afternoon pop. The sun was setting and the light was soft. No damage done. I've never tripped over my legrope (yet!). I make sure to catch it in my fingers underneath my longboard when I pick it up, and it makes a difference when it's attached at your knee, rather than your ankle.

But if I had been lying on the beach, on the sand, in the wash, fallen over, I knew what I would do. I would get up and I would try to push aside the awful shame and humiliation and I would laugh at myself and I would paddle out and I would see...


  1. Anyone tripping over their leash in the rush to get in the water deserves full marks for enthusiasm!

    I came to an unconscious decision a while back to stop taking surfing so seriously and laugh at my mistakes. I used to beat myself up every time I screwed up and looked like a kook, but if you laugh at yourself other people laugh with you, not at you. I seem to have so much more fun in the water now.

  2. I love that! I try to laugh at myself too. Sometimes successfully, sometimes less so...


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