Exactly Where I’m Meant to Be

May 11, 2023

I walk down the sand toward the gentle waves washing themselves up the shore. No one is on the beach, and one lone surfer sits waiting for waves, most barely breaking. No one else is around, and the quiet is so soothing, part of me wonders why I’ve woken up so early to paddle out this morning. Most of the waves are tiny, not even by surfing standards but by any standard. The grey mist is rising slowly to unveil the Waiʻanae mountains to my left; the sun breaks slowly through to my right.

All is still except the waves, which cannot even be called crashing—only an unhurried ebbing and sliding—and all I can know with certainty is that this is exactly where I’m meant to be in this moment.

May 15, 2023

I woke up with a sensation of dread in my bones. The morning I’d carefully thought through, planned, and laid out in the days before seems a distant, unreachable memory now. So quickly, a morning I hoped for became a morning I almost couldn’t bear the weight of. I forced myself out of bed, hoping that coffee and a sip of water would help me ease the thunking pound of anxiety in my forehead.

It didn’t. I sat there, wondering how to get out of my own mind, wondering what in the world could all this mean. I journaled, ate breakfast, laid down, cried, all to try and break out of this random cycle of vicious, nebulous thoughts.

Depression doesn’t make sense. That is why it terrifies those who have it, and angers those who do not. Depression doesn’t abide my schedule, rules, or belief system. It creeps into the beautiful moments to remind me they won’t last, and pounces on the painful moments, claiming they will never end. It doesn’t give; it only takes, and then cruelly questions why you are so sad, why you are so tired and hurt and inefficient.

I’m not writing about depression because it deserves the attention, only to put it on paper so I can see there is a separation between it and myself: we are separate, as much as one would like me to believe I am inseparable from the other.

May 11th, 2023

I walk farther down the beach, where the lone man is sitting on his board. He paddles hard for waves that barely lift him. I don’t care whether it’s worth paddling out; I only know that I must, regardless.

I stand on the shore and wait for the set to pass, a habit I hold to, even when the waves seem soft and forgiving. When a surfer loses sight of their reverence for the power of ocean is when injuries happen. The human body is wildly resilient and shockingly vulnerable. I know this first-hand and watch the waves for a moment. As I walk toward the edge where the waves meet the sand, all of me enters into now; I am here.

May 15th, 2023

I planned to write today. Nothing specific. That’s what I’ve written in my daily to-do list: “free write for SGS on anything,” yet nothing comes to mind. My mind is simultaneously empty and claustrophobically full, and I am at a loss.

The depression rears its head:

How can you call yourself a writer when you don’t write?

Who do you think you are?

You should just give up.

Look at everything you want to do and you aren’t doing any of it … what is wrong with you?

May 11th, 2023

The water is cold, washing itself around my legs like a stray cat: welcoming yet ambivalent—it’s lovely to see me but it would go on with it’s existence whether I was there or not. I place my board into the water and gently lay down, feeling my feet press against the sand as it gives beneath me. I stroke my arms quickly to warm up my muscles. One, two, three, grab the rails and submerge. I open my eyes and breathe out, slow and easy, through my nose.

There it is. The stillness, the lengthening of time into hours compressed into a single second. All of me is here, caught up to reality.

May 15th, 2023

I’ve wandered aimlessly this morning, trying to get my bearings amidst the noise of my head. Nothing scary is happening, but I feel deeply frightened; no one expects anything of me, but I feel deeply rushed and unsettled.

I’ve been familiar with the hypocrisy of depression for years now. The same voice that says you’ve wasted your life is the one that debilitates you so severely that you’ll spend hours staring at a wall, imagining all the life unlived, the moments missed. I am all too familiar with this irony.

I stand up, willing myself to sit here and begin writing this. I will myself not to care what comes of it, not to care who reads it or what it does for anyone. I will myself to keep going, because if I don’t then I will be consumed.

May 11th, 2023

I rise easily from the first duck dive. The softness of today’s ocean is profoundly soothing. It doesn’t matter who I am or what I feel here. The other surfer has paddled in, and I am alone in the ocean, with no nothing to be except myself, nowhere to go except toward where the ocean swell hits the reef and becomes a rideable wave. So I go there and wait, until I see a small cresting line rising from the horizon. A glassy-grey wave begins breaking. I turn to face the shore, registering the palm trees sitting in stillness and the vibrant green of the mountains. I paddle smoothly, angled to the right as the wave breaks behind my left shoulder.

In an instant, I stand up in one motion that I take for granted as easy, and notice the ease of this motion, a motion that wasn’t always so seamless and I think about how everything has changed, how life has brought me here to this one, singular wave that will never exist again. I move my body across the face, do a small turn, then another, and it’s over. The fleeting sensation of weightlessness buoys my paddle back out to find another, to be here again and again.

May 15th, 2023

As I’m writing this, I’ve had hundreds of thoughts. I’ve stopped to eat, moving slowly through the house to the fridge, and outside to sit on the stairs; I’ve responded to texts and written emails and reintegrated with now. This morning’s pain seems like a fleeting memory, becoming blurrier and blurrier as I’ve sent myself back to that morning. That morning is like so many other mornings, when all of me made sense and my whole soul simply knew, without question, that I belonged there.

May 11th, 2023

I’ve caught more waves, surprised that despite their size, I’m enjoying myself. Surfing is always better for me when there’s no expectations, when I show up ready for exactly what is, instead of wishing things were different.

May 15th, 2023

I think about how time works. How we can have so little and so much of it, and how some days go by seemingly in an instant, while others drag themselves out, stretching into unending-lessness. I feel less alone, having written this. I know I am here, having written this. I know that both can exist—the terrible, wrenching pain and the weightless elation.

May 11th, 2023

A woman I recognize paddles out as the sun breaks completely through the clouds. She forgets she has told me she lives across the street, forgets she’s already told me she grew up here; she’s forgotten I already know she’s been surfing this wave since the 60s and that I’ve met her Great Dane, Mango, before. I don’t mind though, because in the second telling it hits me just how long she’s been here, surfing in this place and seeing its iterations and changes, its seasons and colors and shapes.

May 15th, 2023

And as I write this today, I realize it is why I’ve always loved the ocean. The ocean doesn’t know who we are, who we have been, or who we will become. The magic of surfing is the intangibility of it, the knowledge that this wave is the only one to exist ever of its kind. To know that I cannot witness the fullness of the ocean is to embrace the fullness. To accept what I am given is to love, and to love is to become a part of something greater than myself.

The woman has been there witnessing for years, and there I was witnessing with her. We were indistinct and separate, completely apart but fully connected. All that we are was reduced to two surfers in the ocean; the great unifying force of all that has been and all that was.

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