In the middle of one of the roughest bodies of water in the country, Jaimal Yogis had been paddling for 20 minutes without any indication that he was getting any closer to the surf break in the distance. Since his teenage years he had spent his life chasing waves. The wisdom gained from being in the presence of the ocean and observing its nature was the perfect compliment to his practice of Zen Meditation . In this particularly hopeless moment on the water, Yogis came to a realization: it wasn’t just standing on the waves that he loved so much. He also loved to paddle. Going further, he realized that the only way he could have possibly spent so much time on the water was if he loved to paddle. After all, standing on your board and riding a wave probably makes up about 1% of a surfer’s time on the water. The rest is some combination of paddling and waiting — but mostly paddling.

Life is not much different from surfing in this respect. There is a whole lot of paddling to be done. Working day-in, day-out, the commute, sitting in traffic, weekends filled with cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, paying taxes, paying bills, grocery shopping, doing laundry, folding laundry, filling up the car… the list goes on. What Jaimal realizes is that the paddling isn’t keeping him from riding the wave. It is what gets him to the wave so that he can ride it. No paddling, no surfing.

When we lose touch with this principle, we begin to fight the nature inherent in life itself. And when it comes time to finally ride the wave, it’s never enough. It’s not big enough, it’s too big, it’s too hot or too cold out, too windy or too crowded. And so the wave passes us by and guess what? It is time to paddle again. But we feel like we are still “owed” something. We’re owed the wave we “deserve” for the paddling we did to get there for that too-small-too-big-too-hot-too-cold-too-windy-too-crowded wave. But the wave owes us nothing. The wave gave us everything it had to offer. It was perfect. If only we allowed it to be.

– Dave Gofman –