So I surfed the Jetty on Sunday.
On deadline, which is only a good idea if it happens before 8 a.m. Dawn patrolling is guilt-free; taking a couple hours off in the afternoon, unless I’m way ahead, is not.

I was not way ahead this week.

So maybe the anxiety about finishing the paper explains why I had one of my worst sessions ever. The surf was fine, but I couldn’t make a wave: I pearled, I fell, I toppled, I slipped. I was the opposite of grace and so distraught by the end of the session that I sure giving the whole thing up was the only option left. I exited the water with a headache from all the chilly ocean filling my sinus cavity and an almost overwhelming desire to drink myself into oblivion – never a good sign. Thankfully, B and M were riding together, because if I’d had to talk to anyone, I would have surely said many things I’d regret later, given the embarrassment, anger and despair I was feeling. How could I have surfed so many times and still be so bad? How could I be this terrible at something I love? How could I have so many good waves and yet continue to have days like this? The other woman out was catching everything and looking good, which sparked a surprisingly competitive edge in my own normally noncompetitive self – I never get bugged by guys surfing better than me.

Fortunately, at some point during the long, long walk back to the parking lot, my optimism kicked in. Surfing is an exceptionally difficult sport: the conditions are always changing, so learning takes place in an inconsistent environment; everyone has off days; the pearling might have been in part to the board I took out; if I’d brought a board with more rocker, less nose, maybe I would have made some of those waves; quantity of sessions doesn’t matter nearly as much as regularity of sessions; if you learned to surf as an adult, you have to go, go, go just to maintain, much less improve. None of the excuses quite eradicated the depression, but by the time I’d reached the car, I’d regained a bit of perspective. I suppose I’ll keep going. That’s the only real cure for this.

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