Two of my four kids are currently studying imagery in their writing. One of the others is in advanced writing and can probably write circles around me. There’s been a lot going on around here. Some of it school that I can’t write about. Some of it just this crazy season, but as we talked about imagery, one moment came to mind.
Close your eyes and imagine clear turquoise water. It’s so clear the bottom doesn’t really seem 60 feet away. Your skin is tanned and stinging from the sun. The gritty sand seems like a mere irritation as clings to your sweat. You grab a long board because that’s all you, a novice can handle. It’s heavy and awkward. Your walk down the beach looks more like a lumber until your toes hit the water. Three more steps. Your whole body gets cooler but your heart beats faster as you feel the familiar drop off. The cold water pushes against your legs as you thrust the board on top of the wave. There is no time to think about anything but paddling. Still, you stop, to make sure you’re in the right spot. Your arms push through the cool water making you feel stronger than you actually are. You’re racing to your spot with friends. Smiles are on almost everyone’s face. You’re heart is pumping. Will you stand up the first time? Fall off? Just don’t hit your head. In the back of your mind, you hear the stories your father told you about his friend fighting the waves and losing. Of course you’re a little scared, maybe nervous but you are going to try this spite of it.
You maneuver your board to face the beach. Your toes flex and curl while you anticipate the wave. You hear your instructor, “Paddle! Paddle! Paddle! Now!!!” Your feet come up under you. You feel the board racing, the water holding it up. Your arms flex and try to help find your balance on something that you have no control over. Less than three seconds have passed. You look down, are your feet in the right spot? Is the nose coming up? Is is going down? Do you need to shift? Then you, the beginner, novice at best ride that wave in, with time to look around. Fat monk seals are basking in the sun. It’s like they’re smiling at the crazy haole girl who finally figured out how to ride the waves. Diamond Head looks out onto the water. You wonder if anyone sees. Let there be a witness!!! Please, let there be a witness because you are not a natural. It takes everything you have to find the wave, to feel it and to place yourself just right on the board. You still feel it’s power under you. You watch the shore line as you drift west. There are people watching, people sunbathing, kids playing in the surf and you just want to scream, “I did it!”
As you approach the beach, the nose of you board gently lifts ever so slightly. Your ride that you want to last into eternity slows down to a crawl. You jump into thigh-deep cold water hoping to avoid rocks. You grab the board, heart pounding, no air left in your lungs and you turn around to try again… as many times as you can stand to paddle out over those waves.
That’s for my kid who asked me about imagery. It’s also for my kid who is finding new ways to add depth and details to her writing. It’s also for me. Today, when I’m not at the school, as I soak up my last warm day and know that winter is coming, I just want to find that spot again. That place where I only have to think about where my feet go and pushing through the water. I want to find that spot where I don’t have to worry about moves, elections, the things I don’t have control over, if my kids are getting what they need, career choices and all the other muddled stuff that it’s going through my head. All I want to think about is pushing my arms through the water and standing on a board in the Pacific…just for an hour. I would love to find my aloha around here today.