Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Adventure Bowl
Face Your Damn Fears!

When we are kids we have no fears. I can still remember ripping down my hill in a Hulk Big Wheel going what seemed 55mph without a care in the world.

Now, I have the weirdest fears, like Halloween and the ocean. Halloween because it makes no sense to, in the dark, tempt perfect strangers wearing masks with chocolate covered candy so they can come into your house to bound, gag and rob you. (Yes, I have a very active imagination!)

And imagine all the energy they'll have after they've eaten the Almond Joy you gave them.

My fear of the ocean is completely unclear as I was once a lifeguard and ya know, was charged with rescuing drowning beach people.

But the whole idea of this Adventure Bowl is to overcome fears and reignite things on the "to-do" of life. Knowing that by doing so will lead to a happier me.

So when I picked "Today you will paddle board," I secretly cringed because I'd have to do it in the ocean. Where sharks live. Where your legs sometimes dangle into the ocean where sharks live while you're getting the board out there. (There, the ocean... where sharks live.)

I hear they like to snack on your legs. That's what I learned during "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel.

But fear has really gotten the best of me. And this time, I was determined to overcome it...

So I went down to the ocean and rented all my gear. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit the whole idea of paddle boarding came to me while I was watching an episode of "Iconoclasts" with Eddie Vedder and Laird Hamilton. As I watched Eddie Vedder (who's music I love, but he is a known pouter) paddle board in Hawaii and smile a smile where you can almost measure JOY, I thought, "That's for me, I gotta do that."

The gear is awkward because you want a really long board, then you want some paddles and then in front of TOTALLY HOT SURFERS you have to get all this gear out, far in the ocean and past the breaks.

You kind of have to think that no one is looking at you. Like dancing in public. If I think that it looks all spastic and someone is likely to just call 911 as a precaution, then I don't dance.

And here, I didn't think about how, I could NOT look less like I knew what I was doing. But I did it anyway.

You would be AMAZED how much stamina it takes to drag yourself around on a board. It looks so easy but it's hard! You're supposed to have something called "abs" that I do not seem to possess. But there was this infinite quietness and sense of how small I seemed to be in the world.

And that's something I needed.

That and to just laugh at how NOT strong I am. Or coordinated. Do you know what it's like to just stand up, on a board, paddle really hard and then not get anywhere? I just felt ridiculous. And it felt like life, how I am often trying to push through something when I should just... I don't know, sit there and wait for it to blow over.

So I did a lot of sitting. And I'll admit, not a lot of leg dangling was going on. I did not "dangle the leg snacks." That's what's great about a 6ft board... you can sit and lay down.

Mostly, I thought, "I did it" when I could have stayed home, could have just been watching TV or hanging out and instead I got in a hideous bathing suit, carried a huge cumbersome board out to the ocean of death (yeah, I can be waaaay dramatic) and tried something new.

And faced a fear. Will I do it again? Absolutely. As soon as I have abs. Then definitely, again.

This blog is dedicated to land sharks.