Everyone struggles, some people spend their lives being defined by struggle and others by the surviving of it. As surfers, we do not differentiate between struggle and survival. There is only the stoke.
On a bigger day, I still have to fight to get into the line-up. Arms burning, getting tossed around on the inside, eyes stinging with salt, the deafening rush of water. It feels like I will never make it. In the beginning I often didn’t. I would turn around and paddle towards the beach, emerging from the water exhausted and beaten (I’m sure there will be more of these times). But then once, this close to giving up, I punched through the last wave. Startled by the quiet and the stillness on the other side, surrounded by all the others silently searching the horizon for the next set, I realized that the only way to be beaten is to give up. That which had seemed so far out of reach had become attainable. This is the well-spring of hope.
The ocean, like life, cannot be conquered nor overcome. We can merely carve out a place for ourselves within it. The pummelings cannot be separated from the triumphs, and the secret to stoke is loving it all; to keep paddling and have faith.
Surfing means not identifying with the ups or the downs, but realizing it is all one thing. Enjoying every experience in the moment and having faith in your ability to do the impossible; this is an attainable goal, in and out of the water.