You would think that growing up by the ocean, I would love the waves. I always thought I should, but I never did. They were always there, loud, noisy, distracting, never ending. Sure, at times they would calm down, maybe not be as bad, but they were still there. Always. Over the years I came to hate the waves, I wanted nothing more than for the ocean to be calm and still. But you can want all your life, and it's not going to do any good.

For a while, I tried to convince myself I liked the waves. After all, they could be beautiful and majestic, like little angry entities skimming over the surface of the ocean. I tried very hard for a while, but I realized I was only kidding myself. I thought maybe if I could just understand the waves, everything would be okay. So, for a while, I went out into the ocean every day and let the waves carry me. I would float for hours, thinking I was one with the waves, that I understood what it was like to be a wave. But that didn't work, all I found out was that the waves were even worse when you were at sea. I tried to identify with the waves, but it was a lost cause, there was no joy in doing it.

After that, I thought maybe I just needed to see the ocean as a whole. I started to dive into it, to go deep and try to get the big picture. I saw calm and beauty under the waves, life was plentiful and amazing down there. I thought I had figured it all out, that maybe I finally understood. But every time I surfaced, I was quickly reminded that the waves were still there. They would always be there, I could hide under them all I wanted to but eventually I would have to come back up and face them. I stopped diving after that.

For a while, I wandered, unsure of what to do next. It occurred to me that maybe if I could just forget about the waves for a while, they wouldn't bother me so much. So I did the only thing I could think of, I built a wall. It was a good wall, solid and strong, and I was very proud of it. For a while I thought this worked out pretty well. But then I noticed the waves would crash up against the wall, angry and neglected, and some of them would seep through. I tried to ignore it, but gradually they made it through and started invading everything I tried to do on the other side. My wall was crumbling, and maybe that was a good thing, it wasn't working very well anyway.

I considered rebuilding, but I realized it would be hopeless. At that point I was really unsure of what to do. I had tried to like the waves, I had tried to identify with them, I had tried to live underneath them where they couldn't reach me, I had even tried to hide them, but none of this had worked. I roamed for a while, upset and unsure of what to do.

Eventually, I came across some people riding the waves. I watched for a while and it looked like a great deal of fun. They were out there, on the waves, using them to propel them forward, to enjoy themselves. The waves were there, but they met them face to face and rode them. I realized that when I tried to do this, I had passively allowed the waves to carry me. But these people weren't doing that. They were riding the waves, but they were also active, controlling how the waves propelled them forward. They knew that they couldn't stop the waves, you can never stop the waves, but you can learn to ride them and use it to get where you want to go, maybe even have fun doing it.

I went right out and bought me a board like those I had seen and headed back to the ocean. But I froze on the beach. I had seen them do it, but I didn't know how to do it myself. I thought maybe I could learn, but I didn't know where to start. What if I don't have the balance to do it? What if I fell and drowned? Maybe someone could teach me, show me how to do it, but what if I just didn't have the ability?

For a long time, I sat on that beach, staring out at the waves. Sometimes I would stand on my board, to get a feel for it, see if maybe I thought I could handle it. It felt good, solid and reliable, but I hadn't thrown it out on the waves yet. I was afraid to and the fear paralyzed me. Eventually, I realized I didn't have a choice, I could sit on the beach for the rest of my life or I could head out there and learn to surf. Maybe I would fall, but I could get back up and start again. Without a look back, I threw my board in the water and began to paddle.

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