The beauty of the ocean is that it doesn't judge you, it might literally kill you, but it doesn't judge you. You can be in the pits of despair or on the heights of ecstasy and the ocean doesn't care; it doesn't even give it a thought. I like the ocean.
The closest I have ever been to drowning happened when I was learning to surf at a beach called Muriwai, on Auckland's rugged west coast.
I had been attempting to surf for about an hour when I decided that it was time to quit, I was tired. After paddling in for what seemed like hours I realised I was no closer to land. I could see my friend Zach, standing on the shore watching and thinking I was having a great time. I was actually beginning to get scared and to feel weakness creeping in.
There was a large swell, and being a beginner surfer, I had not realised the power it possessed. I was also stuck in a big rip. Now I remembered the lessons that I grew up with about how to get out of rips and I knew what to do, but in the swirl of the moment all of that went out of my head.
I made some more futile attempts to reach shore, but I got no closer. I realised I was very scared because I heard a small voice tremble 'help'. It was my little voice. In that moment I hated the ocean.
What do you do when you realise you are scared? Like the good Christian boy that I am I decided to bargain with God. I didn't want to wave for the lifeguard, that would have made me look like I needed help. Also, there were no lifeguards, and I didn't want to look silly. So I said to God, 'If you get me out of this I'll be a good boy...' or something.
Just then a big wave came and I managed to catch it—something you can't usually do in a rip. I managed to ride this huge wave all the way to shore. I enjoyed it so much I almost turned round and paddled out again. I did turn round and think about the ocean, 'You are not so bad'. I like the ocean.
The first surf after I lost an eye was a bit interesting. It took me a few waves to find my feet again, but it was not long before I experienced the joy of regaining that feeling. It was just like old times; me and two old mates. 'Old times' are so good because you tend to think they can't happen again, and when they do they have this magic about them, sort of like something came back from the dead. The thing is 'old times' can happen at any time. Old times can happen tomorrow!
Since the loss of my left eye I have become very reliant on my glasses but I had to take them off and I don't have contacts. I wondered if I would be able to see well enough to surf. It turns out yes, I could. I actually could, in a way, see more. I noticed things like the shape of the hills and the individual surfing styles of my friends (which made it easier to see where to paddle to when I couldn't see their faces).
To make things better, the sun was setting. Now I do not know of any possible situation that is not made better by an amazing sunset. This was an amazing sunset. Golden, lazy waves, rolled casually in, as if they had forgotten where they were going. People drive from very far away to get to the sea, especially the west coast sunset, for some reason we are all crazy about it. The gold, the pink and the blue are all classic, timeless. I am so grateful to live surrounded by sea.
May you bask in old times as you create new ones!
Jared Diprose is a self-employed artisan and co-director of the Mosaic Workshop. He has a degree in Theology, and believes that words shape worlds. He is married to Sierra. You can see some of his work at www.facebook.com/jareddiprosecreative and you can check out The Mosaic Workshop at www.facebook.com/workshopmosaic
Jared Diprose's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jared-diprose.html