Over the last few weeks I've had something of a revelation. About surfing, and me not being able to surf, and about why that is. Even though since I was a small person, I've always wanted to try.
So there are reasons why I can't surf. Or so I tell myself. But mainly it's because I've never tried. How funny is that. The thing is that I think I've just understood why.
So let's get back to the reasons I tell myself.
For one, I grew up in the country and noone I knew surfed. We went camping at the beach for a holiday every few years, but our activities were restricted to swimming. Surfing wasn't even on the radar.
I always thought that it looked amazing. I loved the idea of the ocean. I loved the idea of sitting on a board on the ocean. The sun and the sparkle.
Surfing seemed to belong to the realm of what other people did. Other people. Other families. They did surfing. They looked like they belonged by the sea, and on a board. My family weren't what you would identify as sea people. We looked like country people, bush people.
Then there was other stuff. I wasn't a kid that loved sport at school. Always picked last for team sport, my brothers used to say that when I ran I looked like a psychotic chicken. People that surfed were super fit, right? And strong. And that wasn't me either.
So a country person rather than sea, normal person rather than fit and sporty. And so I didn't really identify myself as being the kind of person who could be a surfer.
I still loved the idea of surfing though. I always thought "I wish I could".
Then I grew up, got a job, went to uni, got a job, went travelling, worked a little more before finally settling down in Melbourne. In that time I had time, and some disposable income, and the space to go and learn to surf, yet for some reason it didn't even cross my mind to make it happen. Whenever I saw surfing I'd think "I'd love to learn to surf. That looks like total joy." But the thought didn't ever go further than that. There was no next step. There was no action.
I've been wondering about why that is. There are many other things I've attempted to learn and understand in that time and I've just got on and done it. I've thought about whether I just didn't want it enough? Maybe I wanted the other things more?? But I don't think that's it. It's like the thought "I'd love surf" didn't actually ever have the "well I should go and learn" attached to it as a possibility and so it kind of just hung there.... in the air so to speak.
These days I live in Melbourne, in the suburbs, with three kids. I'm 42. I have chickens and I knit. I still don't look like a surfer ;). I also still don't do team sport. That said I am strong though. I exercise regularly and try to keep healthy. So I guess that's a step closer to being the kind of person who would surf?
So back to the revelation. A few weeks ago we went on holiday. And one of the things I did right before we left, in a fit of getting-ready-procrastination, was to download and watch a film called How to be Single. I liked it. It was funny. (Tiny mild spoiler alert if you are going to watch it!) Anyhow the central character has some emotional growth and learning, as you do, over the course of the film. At the end of the film, one of her realisations is that she is always talking about doing things without making it happen. She said it at the end of the film, something along the lines of "I talk wanting to do it but I don't actually do it." And then she does it. She takes action. She does.
A small bell rang in a corner of my mind. Hmm I thought. Am I doing that? Talking about doing things I want to do, rather than doing them?
Then we went on holiday to Noosa where the sun was shining, and there is a surf culture.
We were out at a restaurant one evening and I picked up a pretty magazine (as a way to be less involved in the hesaidshesaid going on) while we were waiting for our food. It was a beautiful surf magazine with all these totally stunning images by this Noosa photographer called Andy Staley. His photos of surfing are totally romantic. They have freedom and grace and sparkle. And again I'm sitting at dinner thinking "I wish I could surf."
I flip the page, and started reading the next article - all about women and surfing and why more don't do it. I flip another page and hit another article about this woman and her husband who took up surfing in the 60s or 70s in Noosa when they were in their 50s. She surfed into her 70s.
Again with the hmmm. Why have I never learnt to surf? I've always wanted to. I make stuff happen. Why not me?
Y'know those moments in your life when the universe decides that you need to learn something important. A couple of little things line up and wham. You learn a lesson that you can never unlearn and your world changes forever.
I had this simple thought - maybe who I think I am has held me back more than I realise?
I've been turning this around in my head over the last week and I've come to the conclusion that the ideas I held about the kind of person I was/am has fundamentally affected the choices I've made. In a way it feels like I'm stating the obvious - for example we know we are organised so we choose a job that involves organisation. Knowing things about ourselves is helpful, right?
But what happens if these ideas we have about ourselves are untrue? What happens if they are based on something tiny from when we were small or a random comment from a stranger. Often this stuff is so deeply buried in our subconscious that we may not even be aware of the impact it has on our decision making. What happens if these unconscious limitations we internally put on ourselves about our place in the world affect us in ways we aren't even aware of.
How often do we examine these "truths"? And rewrite our own story when we find mistaken beliefs?
For me, it's been 15 years since I've had the cash and the time to be able to learn to surf - if I had a mind to do it. I haven't though. And I haven't even really been aware that I was making a decision not to. Surfing wasn't even on the table as a possibility. Because I'm not the kind of person who surfs, or am I?
It took reading an article about a 50yr old woman learning to surf before I could identify myself as being someone who could learn to surf. And now it's back on the table.
So then the question becomes what the hell does this have to do with craft? Well. I was thinking about my I'm not creative post and how I truly believed with all my heart that I wasn't a creative person. And I got to wondering whether there were other places in my craft practice where I was hampered by these subconscious ideas of who I am. Whether it was bigger than just my creativity in general. Are there things that I'm not making, techniques I'm not trying, because of what I believe I am?
The answer is yes!
I want to do some improv patchwork piecing but I don't because I believe I'm not good with colour. I'm procrastinating on really getting into the wedding dress making because I believe that I am a bit slapdash and don't pay enough attention to detail. I could go on but you get the idea. In both those cases the things I believe have meant that I haven't even tried.
Geezus. Who knew?
So what do you think? Are you what you believe you are? Or are the things you believe about yourself limiting your life and your potential to make the things you want to make?
As always love to hear your thoughts on this one. I always learn something from you wise women.
Postscript: So late last week I was out to dinner with the lovely Claire when I mentioned not that I wanted to learn to surf but rather that I was going to learn to surf. Her reply - "I've always wanted to learn to surf. We should totally do it!" And so we are. Sometime in the next year or two (busy times ahead) we are going to schedule a week or so and head north. I, for one, can not wait!