Feels like the first time


When was the last time when you did something for the first time? In the hamster wheel of life, many adults tend to lose that childlike joy of discovering something new or trying something they have never done before. Many of life’s biggest moments are “first times:” the first time you drove a car, your first dog/cat/pet, your first job, maybe the first time you went scuba diving, or sky diving, or even the first time you ever went to Disney.

It’s never too late to have a first time. One of the best things about being an adult is that you can make your own choices and do the things you have always wanted to do. When I was growing up and it was time to choose a musical instrument in grade school, I wanted to play the drums. My parents told me that little girls did not play drums. I ended up with a flute, which I played from fourth all the way up until twelfth grade, and still have to this day. A few years ago, I went to the professional music store in town, bought my first pair of sticks, and took drum lessons at the ripe old age of 32. I now go through the house banging on everything, and it is awesome. I like to drum at about 1 am, when I get home from work, am bouncing off the walls, and trying to calm down. I’m sure the neighbors are thrilled. (They haven’t said anything yet, so I’m lucky there.)

Another hobby I have is surfing. It’s been so long since I have had the opportunity to surf, not many people know I have that hobby. Back in the day when I was hitch hiking the west coast in the 90s, I learned to surf on the Pacific Ocean. I bought a board in California, brought it back east, and my surfboard has resided in a friend’s garage on Cape Cod for at least the past decade. Every so often, I get out to Massachusetts to use it, but definitely not as often as I like. I am currently landlocked in Central New York, so it is at least a good 6-7 hour drive to any oceanfront.

Then recently, in the course of using my park pass, I got this bright idea to surf the Great Lakes (okay, so there may have been some wine involved, but it was still a great idea). After doing some research, I have learned that surfing the Great Lakes is possible. Definitely on a completely different level than ocean surfing, the Great Lakes tend to have good wake in the early spring and late fall. Great Lakes surfing is generally not as challenging as ocean surfing, as the waves often lack the power. However, given that many ocean beaches recently had shark week, I’ll take the Great Lakes for now, thanks.

So I bought a short board. Part of the reason why my ocean surfboard has resided in Massachusetts for so long, in addition to ocean proximity, is that I have no way to transport my board back and forth due to length. Long surfboards are good not only for ocean waves, but also for beginners just starting out. Short boards are more challenging to handle, but I figure better for Great Lakes surfing given the smaller waves. I’ve been surfing long enough that I’m up for the challenge of handling a shorter board.

After a three-week wait for my short board from California, it finally arrived. Half the size of my ocean surfboard, I can fit the short board comfortably in my car. I used it for the first time on Great Lake Ontario two weeks ago. The waves on the Great Lakes are getting ready to die down for the summer, but I still had a great time. There is definitely a lot more paddling and floating involved in Great Lakes surfing than there is on the ocean, but the feeling of being on the water is the same, and as equally amazing.

My purpose in this Great Lakes adventure was to create a life in which I did not need to escape. If I can access a Great Lake in 2-3 hours, then I can surf and enjoy the things I love without needing to take a significant amount of time and money to take off someplace else and leave the life I have where I am. In my quest to slow down, I am looking to enjoy where I am and live in the present moment. Why wait for the next big thing when you have something pretty amazing in your own backyard?

For the record, my first time out on Lake Ontario with the short board was not perfect. I forgot to attach my armband, the board got away from me, and then my swimming skills were really put to the test trying to chase it down. The waves may not have been as big, and the board was new. As many times as I have caught a wave on the ocean, surfing the Great Lakes really did make it feel like the first time. It was awesome.

When was the last time you did something for the first time? Have you completely given up something you loved to do because life/work/school got in the way? What is preventing you from starting again?

I am so fortunate and blessed to be at a point in my life where I have the luxury and the privilege to not only reclaim things I love but to discover new things as well. What would you do if you could do anything? I don’t know about you, but I have some more waves to ride pretty soon here.

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