Sometimes you find admiration and inspiration from something you’d never expect.
You know, like a surfing dog.
Some friends who used to live in Southern California had informed me of an annual dog surfing competition in Huntington Beach that I needed to attend. I’m not even a big animal lover, but I wasn’t sure I could live with myself if I missed something like this. I’m impressed by humans who can surf, so dogs on surfboards sounded a little incredible.
And they didn’t disappoint.
On Saturday morning, I got my a$* kicked by some rather monstrous hills during my run through a canyon, so I was pretty tired and looking forward to relaxing in the sun. I packed my bike in the back of my car and drove out to Huntington Beach (I could probably ride there if I want to go for a really long ride, but please read the previous sentence about running hills earlier that morning for my justification of not making that trek) and then rode from where I parked out to the special dog beach. I didn’t realize how popular this event really is until I pulled up and saw the large crowd gathered around a bunch of oddly talented dogs.
I was able to squeeze my way toward the front to get a good spot for viewing this ridiculously amazing spectacle, and we all waited in anticipation for the next round of competitors. The humans surf with their dogs (so maybe the animals really aren’t that talented), and the pups just kind of chill on the end of the surfboards and ride the waves back to the shore. It’s certainly entertaining—that’s for sure. One guy even did a little hop trick, and the end of the board with the dog on it went up at a slight angle for the rest of the way, and that dog just stayed there like he was king of the sea (sorry, but that’s Ariel’s dad’s role, bud).
One rather funny moment occurred when, on the next little run, that same dog fell off of the board and into the water right before they reached the shore. It was pretty hilarious, but don’t worry—he was fine. In fact, he popped back up like nothing had happened and then had a very impressive final run a few moments later.
As I was watching all of this, I realized just how much trust those dogs have in their owners and how much resilience they have when things don’t exactly go as planned.
I’m not sure that’s always the case for this human.
I thought back even to my run that morning. Like I said, those hills pretty much owned me, and it was a reminder of how I’m not quite in the running shape I’d like to be in right now. Sure, it’s still been less than a month since I had two kidney surgeries within a three-week period, but it can be discouraging when you used to be somewhat good at something and now feel average at best. I beat myself up about it both during my run and for a fair amount of time after.
And I feel like that’s not super uncommon. It can be easy to dwell on lots of things in life that aren’t so great—things from our pasts, things we did recently and might regret, things we are dreading. We think about them too much rather than realizing that they are things we can’t change, and we need to focus on the here and the now. It’s better to live in the moment than to live in the land of “what if” or the world of “if only.” I’ve had to remind myself of that quite a bit lately with all of the recent changes and uncertainties.
The truth is, though, that perhaps we really should be more like those absurd surfing dogs. They don’t care about the possibilities of falling into the ocean, they aren’t concerned with previous crappy attempts that didn’t pan out, they don’t stress about how they compare to the other dogs around them, and they certainly aren’t acting anxious about whether or not the crowds watching are pleased with them or not. Instead, they simply do what they know they are supposed to do: stand on those surfboards with poise and excitement and enjoy every single second of it.
That sounds like a pretty solid way for a human to live, too.
Sure, we aren’t dogs with humans riding on the backs of our surfboards, but we definitely face a bunch of ups and downs in life—and sometimes we crash and burn, while other times we rise above the waves and coast on them to what we consider successes. Regardless, during those times when we find ourselves in situations that make us a little bit (or a lot) afraid or looking back on those that we maybe want to forget, it’s important to remember that it’s often those moments that help to make us stronger and help to make us who we are.
And we might find that we really are like the dog who falls off of the surfboard, gets back up like nothing happened, and goes back out for another try.