Someone said to me that they were feeling a bit as if they were under a wave at the moment and doing their best to regroup, knowing that one day they’ll be riding those waves; seeing me a bit further down the path was giving them comfort.
Riding the waves –– it was such a good analogy for life when you want to live it at its best. Just like any goal, living your best life – or riding a wave – requires focus and perseverance. In fact, given it’s that time of year many of us set new goals, its prompted the realization that living my best life is my goal; and it’s really the only one I need to put any focus on for everything else to line up.
In order to live my best life I knew I had to first figure out who I was, my authentic self, otherwise everything else would be off course. I started that, in earnest, around 4 years ago. It was a process that mainly involved tuning in, becoming present to my thoughts and feelings, and figuring out what was helping me and what wasn’t.
While I’ll no doubt continue to evolve and grow throughout the rest of my life, I’m now confident enough to recognize what is a match for me in my best life and what is not.
Sometimes it can take me a while and I can be a bit clunky as I self-consciously navigate my way through all the societal norms in order to honor my authenticity.
For example, despite feeling bad about turning down social invitations, I have to be careful where I commit my attention. While I often love interacting with others, especially if it’s deep and meaningful, I also need and value lots of time for inward reflection. Having been taught it’s bad manners to say no, and often feeling like I might be letting others down, it has taken conscious effort to put my own needs first. But, like anything, the more I practice it the easier it becomes.
Going back to that first analogy of riding the waves, although I’m not a surfer, I imagine success in living my best life will be just like the journey from being a novice to being a professional in anything. I’m sure even the pros spend time in the water under the waves. In fact, though the slam dunks may get less frequent, they probably get bigger.
I imagine that just as there will be immense frustration in that, there must also be immense satisfaction in mastering the climb back up and riding even bigger waves. It reminds me of some advice I was once given about reaching my goals:
“This is your own personal mountain, as you near the top the going may get tough, but that is when you do when any mountaineer does when he’s nearing the summit. You rely on your team and your skills and you become more focused. You don’t take unnecessary risks, you don’t take shortcuts and above all else, you don’t look down.”
I like to think of each wave as its own mountaintop, once you’ve mastered one challenge, another comes along. That is just the flow and process of life in my experience; it’s only satisfying if you determine to get the best out of it all.
As I said to the person who was feeling under the wave, you have to give yourself the credit for at least having the conscious awareness of what is happening and your desire to get back up, that in itself is huge.
There are many people swimming around in the murky water not even realizing there is a different life awaiting them!
I am serious about getting the best out of life and doing it from an authentic standpoint, and the more I focus on that and keep steadily moving forwards, the more things do just seem to line up.
For example, I’ve been feeling for a few years that my body needs more exercise. I had even determined to return to the pool at some point as the kids got older and space opened up for me to achieve that.
I could have made that my new year’s resolution many a time, but it would have been hard work and hard to keep up. Not because I was resistant to the swimming, that part was easy, it was the logistics of it all while juggling everything else in my life at the time. It simply wasn’t the priority.
I listened to my heart and knew that other things were more important for my wellbeing at that time. Then, a couple of months ago, I went to an osteopath for a checkup. She asked what I do to raise my physical vibration (she was talking my language), I had to admit I do very little. Then she simply commented that my body would really appreciate it if I focused on it.
I knew it was time, not because I needed to get fit or to lose weight or to win at anything, just because my body needs regular movement. Swimming for me can be quite meditative, and it was amazing how my cells remembered what to do despite 30 years of absence from any earnest commitment to being in the water.
It’s been easy, it just lined up. There is a pool nearby that I’m familiar with, I have the time to get there once or twice a week, while still managing to fit in all the other things that are important to me, and I enjoy the whole process. I feel like it’s part of living my best life, another piece has fallen into place.
It is the same with the garden, I have been drawn to the idea of eating fresh (just picked), raw foods for some time. The garden has been my partner’s domain over the early years of our kids’ lives as they needed so much of my attention. This year though, due to his work commitments, he hasn’t had the time to do anything with the garden. Instead, I decided to take responsibility for it.
That was a gradual thing. At first, I was just tidying up a few weeds, but – as I did – I realized the kids were happily playing and have even reached an age they are able to grab some snacks themselves if they are hungry. So then my plans got a bit more ambitious as I redesigned a couple of areas of the garden and planted our veggies for the summer months.
I could have forced all that sooner, but it wasn’t the right time and I wouldn’t have been honoring my true self by doing that. It’s about feeling the flow and catching the wave, going with it instead of trying to create something from nothing or, worse, push against what is already there.
The trouble is, when you do that from anything other than your authentic self, you’ll get dragged along by the current like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry. If you find yourself doing things just because you feel you should, rather than because they feel right for you, that is a good sign that your authentic self is waiting to be heard.
Once you’ve tapped into what is right for you (helped hugely by taking some regular time to meditate or contemplate in whatever way works for you), you can start honoring your own needs. At first, you might find yourself back in the murky waters now and again, but keep practicing and soon you too will be riding the waves of your best life.