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Be With The Wanting
I’ve been surfing a lot this week, and it’s given me some really invaluable time to reflect.
I have always loved surf culture, surf clothing. I love the ocean, I love beaches, sand and coffee and beach fires and ALL THE THINGS. And I LOVE vintage cars. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything, but roll with me here.
I grew up snowboarding and going to the mountains. I’m a prairie boy (raised in Calgary), so the beach was always in movies and not in my life. I wanted that care-free saltwater bleached hair. And let’s be honest, I wanted to be around girls in bikinis.
I wanted to learn how to surf and become good at it in my mid to late thirties. In the pursuit of this, I didn’t know I would be getting what I actually — and so desperately — needed. I didn’t know that surfing would be a vehicle for radical presence.
In a world where we are CONSTANTLY being pulled in every direction in every moment, being fully present is an act of rebellion.
Surfing demands presence. If you are not in the HERE and NOW, you’re gonna eat sh*t. You can’t be thinking about a to-do list or who’s maybe texting you because the ocean is going to eat you alive if you don’t fully immerse yourself in the nuance of the water and your board.
And, just like the salt water, presence washes over you. It makes you realize that life is not about getting things — it’s about experiencing things. Slowing down. It’s about taking deep breaths and deep gazes. It’s about forests and beaches and holding hands and hugging those you love. A smart phone is certainly a marvel, but it will never be able to give us what witnessing-the-miraculous-in-every-moment can provide. You didn’t come here to text a bunch of people and live through the eye of your camera and die. You came here to participate in the circadian rhythms of life. You came here to give birth to your purpose. You came here to love all out. You came here to be here, now.
As I was finishing one particular surf session this week, I thought to myself: “I’ll catch one more wave before I go in.” And then I had this insight… I live my life by “one more.” One more chocolate. One more drink. One more candy. One more song. One more _______. And while I could have certainly caught one more wave on my way in, I thought to myself, “Can I go back to the shore and be left wanting more? Can I be with myself in the space of wanting?"
To choose to not scratch the itch. To choose not to meet the want. What is below that, I wondered? It’s the desired behaviour of every addict, isn’t it? And I thought to myself: on many levels, we are all addicted to things… maybe it’s our phone, maybe it’s shopping, maybe it’s people pleasing, maybe it’s drugs or alcohol.
For me, it’s an addiction to leaving the now. Like, truly, the now. And so, to counteract that, I crave things that DEMAND presence — like surfing. Because being present is where the medicine is. It’s where the answers are. And, for the sake of sounding cheesy and cliché, it’s all we have.
As Gabor Maté says, “The wrong question is why the addiction. The right question is why the pain."
When I explore what lives below the desire to over-consume almost everything delicious in life, I think it’s due to not wanting to feel the pain of having a need/want not be met. I look back at my childhood and realized that I used sugar to cope with not fitting in. I remember in grade five to grade eight putting on some weight — and as kids were developing social structure and hierarchy — I felt myself falling down the social ladder because of it. I felt the pain of not belonging, I felt the impact of being judged by my weight gain. I felt the impact of the weight gain on my body.
I think those years are painful for a lot of kids. A time when social connection and rejection happen. We have hormones and beliefs and ideas and evolutionary forces that determine mate value and societal value. All these are so tough to reconcile when we don’t feel like we are “valuable” in those ways.
This is one (of many) moments when our worth begins (or continues) to be determined by what is outside of us. The world is cruel in its devaluation of the human spirit: it often bases our worth on doing, rather than BEING.
And so, we develop coping mechanisms and try to change and force ourselves into the little box that says, “If you fit in here, you matter."
We sell out our voices and our authentic self-expression to try so desperately to move up the social ladder.
To cope, I tried desperately to lose weight in the summer of grade eight. I lost weight… and guess what? My value went up. Girls all of sudden wanted to talk to me.
But I was still the same person inside. And that person felt rejected and like a fraud sometimes… really just wanting to be loved for who I was. I learned what the game was mostly about.
I don’t blame anyone for this… this is how evolution has worked. Human systems can be cruel for sure, as can families and religions and cultures. I don’t see the collective effort of species survival as intentionally malicious, but if we don’t see the value in ourselves separate from the value society has tried to allocate to us, we will be swallowed alive. If we are never present to our heart beat, our innate beauty, we will accept what someone else decides is beautiful and compare ourselves to that.
I didn’t know I would write about all of this when I thought about taking a wave in, but here we are… following the wave of thought and expression.
What I want you to consider, as I do, is:
“Can you leave yourself wanting?"
It’s ironic that in order to not feel the longing, we reach for something to escape it, not realizing that what we’re truly longing for is ourselves.
“The cure for the pain is in the pain.” ~ Rumi
In the moment, in the wanting, in the being, is you. The beautiful, ecstatic, delicious essence of your soul.
I am truly sorry if life and society and expectations and predetermined “value” have been cruel to you. And, as much as I can remind you of your value, it is you who must recognize it. That harshness that can live outside of us does not need to live inside of us. We are the curator of our thoughts, our lives, and what we allow. Become the warrior and saviour you seek. Your value is innate. It is.
So the real important question becomes, “If you believed your value was innate, how might you live differently?” How might you value yourself more? What habits, rituals, choices and people might need to leave your life? And what habits, rituals, choices and people do you need more of?
The really beautiful thing is, if you get quiet, you’ll know all of these answers. You might not like them, but you’ll know them. And in listening and acknowledging your beautiful truths, you are valuing yourself.
Isn’t that magical? It’s all so simple.
As Gangaji the spiritual teacher said, “Silence is who you are."
Get silent. Catch a wave, bro. Hang loose. 🤙