Outcomes Offered

■ Conquering fear

■ Becoming independent

■ Focusing on new heights of achievement

■ Looking ahead

Dave had always loved the ocean, ever since he was knee-high to a crab. His family had vacationed at the beach for as long as he could remember, and you wouldn't believe how excited he had been at Christmas when he saw a gift-wrapped board-shape standing by the Christmas tree. He couldn't wait to get to the surf.

But when he did, something scary happened. Dave thought he knew the water well, but when you're on a board it can be different from when you are swimming. The board began to drift. It— and Dave—were caught in the riptide that swept along the beach, out past the headland into the deep, dark, cold waters behind the surf. Dave didn't like it but didn't know what to do. He felt powerless against the current. Should he try to paddle out or go with it? Should he hang on to the board or let go and swim for it?

Dave hung on until the current eased, leaving him "out the back"—far from shore and behind terrifying, mountainous waves. He gripped the board tighter. This was a strange and frightening place to be. Still, Dave didn't know what to do. Should he put his hand up and call to the lifesavers for help?

Just then another surfer confidently paddled up beside him. "Can I help you?" he asked. Dave recognized him. It was Surfer Mike. His picture had been in the paper last season because he'd risked his own life to save a drowning kid. He was a local hero.

"I can help you back to shore, ifyou want," he continued, "but you have to help yourself as well. Look at the way you're gripping the board. First, you need to let go of that fear and relax a little. You're going to be okay. I can show you a way."

Dave wasn't sure how he could relax. He felt secure gripping the sturdy board. Ifhe let go, would he fall off and be alone in the water? Those waves looked big and scary. He looked at Surfer Mike. Surfer Mike nodded encouragingly, and Dave began to relax his grip.

"Good," said Surfer Mike. "Don't try to stand at first. Let the wave pick you up, then shift your weight forward on the board. As you start to build up speed move your weight back until you feel balanced, then just lie there and enjoy the ride."

When Dave reached the shallows he was bursting with excitement. Wow! What a ride.

Surfer Mike accompanied him out again, using the riptide to get behind the surf. Dave was fascinated that the current that had terrified him was seen by Surfer Mike as a helpful way to get out back.

A few more rides with Surfer Mike at his side and Dave was on his feet. He'd got the hang of this, and it wasn't long before he felt okay without Surfer Mike beside him. He was right to be cautious of the riptide and the big waves, but no longer did he feel out of his depth, or scared. In fact, this was a great adventure.

"Looks like you don't need me any longer," said Surfer Mike. "You are a natural. Have fun."

Dave paddled back out by himself. He took a last wave, riding it confidently all the way in to shore. When he hauled out, he thanked Surfer Mike and used some of his pocket money to buy him a burger and drink at the surf club.

Afterward, as he basked on the beach, recuperating from all the effort he'd put into conquering those waves, he quietly enjoyed the sun on his body, the sounds of the waves crashing in the background and swishing up the sand. It was nice to just take some time out after the experience he'd just been through. Watching the signs of the riptide in the water and looking at the size of the waves out back, he realized they hadn't changed. They were the same as before he'd been caught in the current. It was Dave who was different—stronger and more confident. The self-doubts that he'd had about being in a scary place had given way to joy and exhilaration.

As he lay there, resting, he thought back over what he'd done—and somehow that scared, frightened boy who'd got swept too far out just a short time before seemed almost a distant dream, a foggy memory. He had a new feeling of strength and confidence. He knew he could do it again, and maybe even try new beaches or bigger waves.

Behind the beach he noticed hang-gliders taking off from the hills behind him, soaring on the sea breeze, lifting like eagles on gentle currents of air, and thought how he'd love to do that. Perhaps he would ask Dad next vacation.

0 0

Post a comment