Be the Wave – Part 1

Have you ever heard the expression surfing the river Zen?

I have always admired people who are low maintenance and calm. You know the ones I mean – they maintain an even keel regardless of what’s going on.  Nothing too high, nothing too low.  Calm, poised, and confident, they move through life apparently surfing the river Zen.

I’ve tried to write a few characters like this…unfortunately, my characters seem to absorb my quirks and issues…and I am not that person surfing the river Zen.

I like maintaining personal control, but suppressing emotions isn’t healthy and rarely works for me. My surfing the river Zen turns into a raging tsunami taking out innocent bystanders.

big waves under cloudy sky

**Confession time: Perhaps it’s because I fail at it, but I often view surfing the river Zen as being a doormat or lacking passion. That’s not to say that’s how or what it is for the people surfing, merely that is how it seems to me when I try it (see the raging tsunami reference above).

However, I’ve trained in aikido for years and also do yoga and meditate.  All emphasize a peaceful nature with many flowing water references. Be the water, not the stone. Breathe, move, and relax. I found it easier to apply them in their specific areas instead of my ‘real life’. Sure, I can let thoughts go while meditating…no, I don’t stay calm when I’m behind stupid drivers and am running late.

toddler with red adidas sweat shirt
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on

It has been a struggle to find a water analogy that works for me now and encourages me to be better.

Be the wave.

I’m more of a fall/ winter person, but I took a second vacation to Mexico this year.  We sat on the beach because I wanted to see the full moon on Friday the 13th.  It was mesmerizing watching waves crash onto the beach.

(Yes, the blurry picture below is from my phone that night! The next two pictures are also from that Riviera Maya vacation.)


Be the wave.

The wave doesn’t depend upon the surfer.  Being the wave feels much more proactive to me than being the surfer. I like the independence of doing things my way regardless of others’ opinions. [For the sake of this post, let’s assume others’ opinions refer to the words of haters and trolls instead of helpful people who can help and whose opinions matter to us.]

Be the wave.

I’m a planner by nature or nurture. I like lists and schedules. Even the waves have a schedule – high tide, low tide, in, out. There’s a cycle there. That speaks to my orderly, overly organized soul. I do like spontaneity but only in small doses…that fit into my schedule. It’s funny because it’s the truth.

Be the wave.

There are big waves, small waves, loud waves, waves crashing early, etc, etc.  Yes, I like a schedule, but life can be messy. It’s not always smooth sailing [do you like how I’m just really running away with this ocean analogy?]. I like the idea that those differences (aka moods) are part of a natural cycle. They aren’t cause for concern or worry – a certain amount of differences is part of the norm.

Be the wave.



Yes, a tsunami is a huge wave I referenced above as destructive. I don’t want to dwell upon that part now, but there is definitely power in the wave. It’s not a doormat; it doesn’t lack passion. It is strong, powerful, and even focused.

Water washes away the sands and cuts through the stone. It flows free but with purpose as part of a grander scheme. Oceans waves are just a small portion of this grander scheme. They are the portion that speaks to me though.

This time of year is particularly stressful for me (even if it is part of our normal cycle). We rush from event to event – we fight to buy things no one really needs – we make small talk with people we haven’t seen since last year – we travel by car, plane, and train. There’s a lot to do and seemingly not enough time to do it. It’s certainly difficult to surf the river Zen without erupting into a wave of destruction.

My advice: try being the wave!

Understand and appreciate you’ll have highs and lows. Accept that sometimes it feels like you’re beating your head against a wall (you might see progress later or you might find another way). Give yourself permission to pull back or surge forward. Respect that others have their own wave rhythm. Let go of the shore and appreciate the depth of the oceans inside you. Enjoy your power and your quiet moments.

Be the wave.

Sunrise 1

What about you? Do you use nature to inspire you? How do you handle stress? Can you surf the river Zen? Please feel free to share your thoughts!

One thought on “Be the Wave – Part 1

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