Paddling, Jumping Up, And Surfing In A Cow Field
October 13, 2019
I grew up 1 mile from the beach in New Hampshire.
Then recently, I lived 2 miles from the beach just outside of San Diego in California.
And I never went surfing.
Not until I moved to Austin, TX did I surf for the first time. If you don't have a map, Austin is in the middle of the state. There are no beaches in Austin.
But...there is an "inland surf park".
It's a huge pool of water out in the middle of a cow field. It has a man-made sandy beach and surf boards to rent.
A large cement block is pulled across the pool every two minutes to create a wave which travels the distance of the pool.
The wave is the same speed and shape every time, so it is a great place to practice.
The first time I tried it, I loved it. Even though it was just in a pool, paddling onto a wave and jumping up is a thrilling ride.
The ride doesn't last that long though. Despite the large length of the pool, the wave eventually dies and you fall off the board.
Isn't that just like the way our minds work?
Ever have a new thought, new idea, or something you just learned that you want to ride and surf forever?
Here's an example of what I mean:
I recently listened to a podcast, recommended by a friend, about the importance of sleep.
I learned that somewhere between 10pm and 12am at night, our livers run a cleaning cycle that prepares them for the next day. They only do this though if we are sleeping.
If we don't get to bed early enough in that window, then our liver doesn't get rejuvenated for the next day. If we never get to sleep in that time period, then chronic issues may develop.
Learning this was like a wave crashing in my mind. I liked the thought of it, it made sense to me, so I wanted to start paddling and ride the idea.
What do you think I did?
I started going to bed earlier instead of the usual after midnight sleep times I've kept my entire adult life. I wanted my liver to be healthy!
How long do you think that lasted for?
I thought it would last forever. I thought I would become someone who went to bed early simply by remembering (surfing) this new piece of information.
I was back to staying up late as if I had forgotten what I had learned. The wave crashed and my ride was over.
Does this ever happen to you?
You get so excited by a new idea, new realization, or learning. You make changes for a few days, a few weeks, and then you drop it. You forget about it.
That is the true nature of our minds. As much as we don't want to believe it, a new thought or insight is temporary, transient.
It's a crashing wave with an attention-commanding force that seems so strong, we don't think we'll ever forget it.
So we paddle, we jump up, we surf it. We ride as long as we can, thinking that it won't or can't ever crash.
But it does. And we fall off the board.
So how then do we change ourselves. How can we make use of exciting new ideas that come from either inside or out?
We stop focusing on specific waves. We start paying attention to the nature of what waves are made of.
We stop trying to ride a thought forever. We start paying attention to the nature of what thoughts are made of...
A formless, ever-changing substance, that is sometimes crazy, sometimes clear, and never solid enough to stand on for very long.
Only with that insight can we then make practical behavior-changing use of the good ideas we stumble across.
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