Surfing as a Metaphor for Life


Photo citation: Frederic Maitre,

What you can learn from surfers

I was watching my son out riding his paddle board in the ocean and getting back up after after wipeout. It reminded me of the many times that I have watched him surf in many places over the years.  And I was thinking of how surfing can remind us of so many important things for living our lives.

  • Get in the water.

First of all, to surf, you have to get into the water–all the way in. That’s the only way you can do it. And, yes, it’s cold and uncomfortable. Keep moving forward and getting deeper in anyway.

  • Work with the natural energy.

There is no use fighting the waves. This is the unstoppable raw force of nature. You either ride them into the shore or sideways inside the curve. But in any case, you are working with the energy, not against the natural momentum.

  • Stay fully present and pay attention. 

The ocean demands respect. You respect it by acknowledging it’s raw power, and you pay attention every moment or you get washed out or into a precarious situation that you can’t handle. You are being forced to be fully present. This is one of it’s gifts.

  • Know your limits.

The ocean can be thrilling or you can drown. Watching not only the size of the waves as they approach but the tide, the direction of the current towards dangerous rocks or other obstacles, and your fatigue level can signal when you should get out for that day or move elsewhere.

  • Position yourself.

Surfers paddle over the small crests and low breakwater to get to where the action is. They get into position for the right opportunities.

  • Seize the opportunity and catch the waves.

If you watch surfers, they are out there just waiting for the moment when the right wave is approaching. Too big and they dive below the surface. Too small, and they let it pass by. But when just the right size comes towards them that they can handle, they quickly adjust themselves to ride it as far as it will take them.

  • Find the sweet spot and flow.

Once you are riding the wave, following the natural curve and flow of the water, you feel the exhilaration of being in the flow–that magical space where the natural energy carries you easily, effortlessly to your destination. Surfers know enough when to stop paddling and just enjoy the ride.

  • Keep in shape with practice.

While looking for the best waves, surfers may ride smaller ones just to keep in practice while waiting for something better.

  • Do it again and again.

And then they do it again and over again. Consistent practice of positioning themselves, paying attention, catching the waves and riding them over and over.

  • Sometimes  you get a good one, sometimes you don’t.

Whether the surfing is good or not, surfers just know that they are keeping in shape and building their skills for when the right opportunity comes along.

  • Keep your balance

Surfing requires that you are making adjustments all the time to stay on top.

  • Get back up.

Surfers know that they are going to be knocked down into the water. They experience many wipe outs. But regardless, they climb back on board. 

  • Remember to attach your lifeline

Surfers rely on their boards to get them back to shore. So they attach a line to themselves so that even if washed out, they can recover and get back to shore safely for another try.

Copyright by Roxanne Louise. However, this article may be shared in other free online sources only if this copyright notice and link to and  are included with the content.

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