The Huddle #13: Choices (Yup)
Errbody got choices.
A few days ago, I drove down to Doheny State Beach to meet up with my dad for a father daughter surf sesh. We surf together a whopping two or three times a year, and each time I walk down the beach towards the water, my ego inflates with ideas about how I’m going to CRUSH THIS. Ideas like, “ OK, no, you haven’t surfed in awhile, but, remember how strong you are? You do a billion chaturanga push-ups a day. You are so much more fit than the last time you did this… six months ago. YOU SHOW THOSE WAVES WHO’S BOSS. “
This time, I got in the water, hopped on my board, began paddling out… POP. Like a balloon deflating, reality set in.
I’m paddling...aren’t I?
Why aren’t I moving?
Am I moving... backwards?
It didn’t take long to remember how much I love being in the water. I caught a few waves, but somewhere along the way, the fatigue set in, and each time I would paddle out, my arms became less and less useful. Getting back out past the break seemed to take an eternity. At one point, a couple pre-teen surfer boys paddled past me and I caught myself getting frustrated. Of course, my inner dialogue tried to tame the frustration by mumbling a stream of “life is about the journey, not the destination,” bullsh**. I kept paddling.
And then it hit me: I didn’t have to keep going! The clouds lifted, the angels started singing, and I remembered. I had a choice. If I turned around and paddled into shore, what would this say about who I am as a person? Absolutely nothing. I could sit on the beach, feel the sun on my face, watch my dad in his element, and be completely satisfied.
Now, you may be thinking that this is the moment when I tell you not to be so hard on yourself. (Take breaks when you need it! Cancel your weekend plans- you have full permission to sit at home in your pajamas and drink wine and watch Bravo!!!)
NOPE. There's a time for that, but this is not that time.
I’m less interested in the fact that I took a break than I am in the time it took me to remember that I had a choice in the matter.. Do you ever get so caught up in the ambition rhetoric (Keep going! Don’t give up! Don’t show weakness!) that you forget about your personal agency? You have a choice to keep going. You have a choice to take a break, or to stop entirely. And no matter what you choose, you always, always, reserve the right to change your mind. The world doesn’t give a damn if you stop paddling or if you keep going. That decision to stop is yours and it always will be-- Moreover, the decision about what this action says about you is up to none other than… YOU.
Get used to noticing the choices you make throughout your day. Every pattern, every habit, is a series of choices. See if you can turn up the volume. Let it play out in your head like this hit by one of our generation's greatest songbirds, E-40: Do I want a child’s pose (Yup!) Do I want a burpee (Nope!). Do I need a break? (Yup!) Does this mean I’m weak? (Nope!) Am I a bad ass? (Yup!)