Next time you are at the beach, spare some time to observe the waves. Many will have heard life advice ‘go with the flow’, but is this really the answer? If you take the journey of life to be analogous to surfing the sea waves then there are several things to consider.
Just as in life, ground work must be undertaken. The way the sea, wind, shore, tides, and moon interact must be learnt about. Knowledge must be attained about the equipment, boards and the safety procedures. Dangers and consequences must be considered with reference to respecting what's around you and the environment's possible limitations. Inevitably there will be obstacles along the way and some waves will throw the surfer off the wave resulting in the full weight of the water above, crashing down upon them. Each situation has to be dealt with individually; but the important thing is never to loose the love for trying, otherwise that would be paramount to lacking the zest for life. Instead the surfer must get straight back on the surf board and rise up to the next challenge. Surfers can expect to get thrown off some waves, but rather than seeing these ‘wipe outs’ as failures and giving up, surfers seize them as learning opportunities. Mistakes and ‘wipe outs’ are experiences to learn from and it’s never too late to learn from failures and share knowledge with others. Buckminster Fuller once wrote “Whatever humans have learned had to be learned as a consequence of trial and error experience. Humans have learned through mistakes.”
Surfers need to carefully consider which wave to catch and which direction they must point their board in order to gain the most awesome ride. Surfers quickly learn to consider their direction of travel, as not only do they have to be able to avoid dangerous sea bed rocks but also their wave position makes the difference between riding a wave and falling off it. This is analogous to planning life’s journey, as forgetting to consider the direction of travel would be like trying to fit together a jigsaw puzzle without having seen the bigger picture. Life does not and can not stand still, deciding upon the wave to follow, prevents just ‘going with the flow’ of water and being washed up somewhere you had not anticipated to be. Instead, surfers learn to steer their own course and ultimately their own destiny.
These thoughts will be included in a new self-help book entitled 'Why Lawyers Should Surf' (xpl publishing), which will be available in bookshops from 2007.