After 49 years, I found my thing.
Growing up and living at the ocean, I have body surfed, skin dived, kayaked, sailed, and just about any and everything else having to do with the big blue. But it wasn’t until 4 years ago that I and that great expanse became one and since then, it’s all been about the board.
The great thing about stand-up paddle boarding is your vantage point. As you glide high above the surface of the water you are afforded great views of what’s under the surface as well as what’s out in front of you. I’ve paddled on my Takayama Ali’i II Wolf bought for me on Mission Bay, Trinity Lake, Tahoe, and all over the Sea of Cortez. But it doesn’t matter where I’m paddling; as long as I’m on the water, I’m a happy girl. I’ve seen sharks beneath me, have been followed by sea lions, and have chased dolphins. Lola loves it too and in carrying her extra 90 pounds, my overall balance has gotten strong.
I started paddling with my pal Holly off the Lawrence Street beach on the backside of Shelter Island. Like me, she’s fearless, doesn’t care if it’s raining or sunny, and is just as happy going out on a windy day when there’s chop as she is to go out on morning glass. We even like it when a big wake from a boat hits us because it forces us to get creative in how we’re going to stay upright as we know from experience that even the smallest stirring of the water can throw you in if you’re not on the alert. As we’ve raced and challenged each other, our power has increased and our balance has gotten rock solid and now, we rarely even get wet. Secretly, I think we’re a little puffed up about that.
Not long ago though, Holly and I were paddling hard out in the harbor and a speedboat came up from behind, passing us way over to the right. We accounted for his wake, waved and kept on paddling and talking. The boat quickly went out of view but a few minutes later, remnants of its wake touched us from behind and bam, I was suddenly overboard. It was the smallest of ripples but it knocked me over with the strength of a cresting wave. Major bummer too, as I was fully clothed.
As I pulled my soaking wet, red-faced self back on to my board it occurred to me that in that moment, I was a living metaphor. I was struck that it’s not the big stuff that most typically tosses me on my butt; no, it’s the little things that throw me off balance and put me into the soup.
Funny how we can flip out when we forget our wallet, lose our keys, or hear we’ve been criticized by a coworker we barely know. We practically alert the media when our cell phone company messes up our account, we ding our fresh pedicure, a friend cancels at the last minute, our flight’s been delayed, or discover that our bank account is overdrawn. I’m convinced it’s not the elephants in the living room that typically get us… it’s the ants in the kitchen!
I need to not be a drama mama over little things that ultimately don’t matter. As Richard Carlson so aptly puts it in his book title of the same name, Don’t sweat the small stuff and (by the way)– it’s all small stuff. For God’s sake, there are way bigger things to be concerned about. I want to be consistent and surrendered to the Power that is greater than I, even in little matters. If I am going to call myself a Christian, then for crying out loud, I’d better live more like I believe it… even with small things. People watch how we handle what life doles out, large or small, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be derailed, uprooted, or thrown overboard by things we’ll forget about by Tuesday. I, for one, want to handle life with more consistency and grace, aided by the power of my faith and the strength of my tribe, no matter the tiny little ripples that might hit from behind.
“Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things.” Luke 16:10a ETRV
Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker from Southern California.