My amazing wife, our baby, and I were leaving Tahoe when she said she felt like we only did part of all the activities we planned. I agreed and said I really wanted to surf that sternwheeler boat wave. She replied let’s do it, so we impulsively turned the truck around and drove to South Lake Tahoe.
All week I had been anticipating the paddle out and wondering if the wave would be difficult to catch without falling or running into that giant wheel. Excitement of riding a new wave for that long, fear that I might make a mistake, anxiety that I might be hurt, longing to have this accomplishment, and pressure to catch the wave on the first try were the feelings coming up for me.
I’ve had surfing experiences where I have been scared I was going to drown and so overwhelmed that I got out of the water as fast as I could.
Now that I have more emotional tools I was aware of the feelings and able to acknowledge and feel them and stay on course. I was able to talk down and comfort that part of myself that was screaming get out of here it’s not safe!
I saw the boat on the other side of the lake, it looked small and seemed to take forever to get to me. When it did the ship seemed huge and the wake looked non-existent seen from the front. I’m reminded of Mark Twain’s words, “I have known many sorrows, most of which never happened.”
The mind makes imaginary events feel real if we believe the thoughts, or are unaware that they are just thoughts.
The actual outcome may be completely different. For the body there is no difference, if we imagine we will suffer in the future we suffer now as if it IS happening. I imagined I might fall off my surfboard and look foolish and I felt the anxiety even though it was not happening. As I was paddling toward that big boat there was the thought that I might be run over and I felt scared and a survival adrenaline response as if I was paddling toward certain danger.
This session was last minute and I was rushing to get on the water in time to meet the boat. I forgot to use a powerful tool that works really well for me, and that’s to close my eyes and imagine this adventure being a success and feeling the joy, peace, and contentment of a best case scenario. I suspect that had I done this the pull towards negativity and doomsday scenarios would have been less. Once on the water I did take a few minutes to ask nature for permission and for the ancestors to guide me and keep everyone safe, I felt more connected and calmer.
The Tahoe Queen ran aground a couple times last year with the low lake level, maybe they decided to drive slower and have a coast guard escort into the cove until the water comes back up? [edit: I have learned that the boat in this video, the Dixie, is actually a type of hybrid boat with propellers underneath, so the wheel doesn’t put out as much power.] Hopefully the water levels return to normal next year providing an opportunity for a Tahoe Queen sternwheeler surfing adventure, and another opportunity to practice feeling calm, joy, peace, and contentment regardless of circumstances.