In a smooth transition from the previous day’s adventures, Day 7 of our trip started off with a morning yoga session where Deb introduced us to the Sanskrit term, “shanti” which means, “peace.”
“Shanti shanti shanti,” she said as the sun rose up over the ocean.
I let the words sink in as deep as they possibly could, knowing I’d need as much peace as possible. Today was the newly scheduled surf day, and I was already shaking.
Unlike our initial, crack of dawn attempt, our surf shenanigans were set to start around 11 a.m. (high tide), at a new location that promised waves. I slid into my bathing suit, envisioning not as many, though still a few possibilities of me falling, drowning, etc.
Emily and I took our seats next to each other in the car, both of us silently hoping there would be a simultaneous lack of waves for us and great waves for everyone else. This however, would prove as impossible as it seemed, because just under an hour later, we were wearing surf shoes, rash guards and listening to our instructor, Bear, give us a quick intro on the “need to know” of surfing.
I was doing everything I could not to cry, including looking into Bears eyes, which were so genuine I felt as though letting him down by not surfing would be equally as damaging as fulfilling one of my drowning prophecies.
He put a surfboard down on the ground and mimed a paddle out into the water and the proper way to jump up into a standing position once we were riding a wave.
“Who’s next?” he said, looking out at our oh-my-gosh-we’re-actually-about-to-surf faces.
One by one we lay down on the board, paddling our hands just above the sand and popping up into a balanced squat. When it came my turn, I glided up into the standing position and Bear clapped with a bright smile, “like butter!” he said. This filled me with both pride and dread. I hope this means I don’t have to stay out there longer…
“Alright, let’s go! Everyone grab a board and have Sam, Trae or I help you paddle out.”
I strapped the board to my right foot and timidly walked down to the water. Sam, one the assistant instructors, helped guide me out passed the rocks and then I paddled alongside Bear.
“Are you excited?” he said.
In the spirit of being open and honest, I turned to him and said, “No, mostly just terrified.”
I expected him to say, “You’re good,” or “don’t worry about it.” Something nonchalant and mildly encouraging that would have bounced right off me. But instead he slowed down the pace of our paddle and told me something I have no doubt will stick with me for a long time. “Nervous and excited are the same emotion in the body. It’s all about channeling that energy to the right place. You’re the boss out here, take it at your own pace.”
I nodded, more appreciative than I was able to express, and paddled out next to Alison, where she took this picture, perfectly capturing my still very prevalent fear.
But then, just like on that first day when I went from sitting firmly on a lava rock to literally jumping off a cliff, before I knew it was paddling through the water with Sam behind me saying, “Stand up! Stand up!”
Spoiler alert: I didn’t stand up…
That’s right folks, I totally shredded a two foot wave like my life depended on it. Sure, I looked confused. Worried. As if I had just been teleported onto a surf board without knowing how or why. But I did it. I surfed. Me. The girl who was not going to surf. And I had a great time.
I did end up feeling a little seasick after a few runs, which caused me to paddle in and take my initially desired seat: the beach. But I was immensely proud of myself for trying and was able to watch the rest of my family surf without a stitch of regret.
Upon arriving back at the house, we met in the yoga studio to do one of my favorite activities: crafts! Well, sort of. Going with the theme of the entire week, we were going to continue on with manifesting our dreams, ignoring limits and defying obstacles, by creating vision boards.
If you’ve never heard of or made a vision board of your own, it is essentially a visual representation of what you want in life. (Here’s a good article on it)
Before we went surfing, Jack encouraged us all to dream about doing well. To visualize ourselves succeeding, as it was the first step in actually doing so. Now, as you know, I wasn’t great at that, however, I understood the idea. Vision boards are the same concept.
So, Alison gave us all a piece of poster board, put a stack of magazines in the middle of the room, and told us to sift through them to find words, images or any visual manifestation of what we want in our lives, and glue it down on paper. Afterward, we all shared the what and the why of our individual boards, both to let ourselves say it out loud, and to allow others to then hold us accountable.
Keeping with that spirit, here’s mine:
It includes wishes to be strong, to fight for what I want, no matter how long it takes, to run 1000 miles, to fall in love and have a house and family of my own, and to never stop pursuing even my craziest ideas.
Upon arriving home I stuck it up on my wall and have every intention of achieving the impossible.
Speaking of impossible, let’s cut to back to Day 7, post vision board craft, at 8:00 pm.
I’m on a boat. It’s pouring down rain and I’m standing, shivering in a wet suit, dreaming of dry land. It will be worth it. I’m telling myself over and over and over. It will be worth it.
15 minutes later, I’m snorkeled up, laying face down in the rocking water, with my ankles resting on a pool noodle.
Really take a minute to picture that.
I’ll never know what I looked like, especially from their point of view.
They, of course, being the manta ray.
Yup, that’s right. While laying face down in the water, these guys came within about 5 inches of us. Our boat would shine lights into the water, attracting plankton, which would in turn attract the manta ray like an ice cream cone would attract me: quickly and with a wide open mouth. Our feet rested on pool noodles so as not to accidentally kick the manta ray, and our hands held tightly onto a raft so as not to allow us the temptation to touch the manta ray. (Though if I stuck my tongue out, I swear I still could have. They were that close.)
To say it was unreal—well to be honest, that’s all there really is to say. It totally felt like I was looking through a glass at an aquarium rather than sharing the same air bubbles as a sea creature fondly known as “Amanda Ray.” Let’s just say there were multiple times I involuntarily screamed into my snorkel. And if I didn’t have the film footage and multiple witnesses to prove I was there, I’d probably chalk it up to another one of my weird dreams.
But then again, upon arriving back at the house and looking at my vision board, I was reminded that dreams, when taken seriously, can be far more than just dreams. That just as swimming with manta rays would have only (if ever) crossed my mind as an impossibility, the things I find myself constantly dreaming about can become that much more possible.