Discomfort as Teacher // Love Letter, November 2023

Discomfort as Teacher // Love Letter, November 2023

Greetings from the canyon, where we are experiencing lingering Summer warmth. If you are familiar with my IG feed, I am pretty obsessed with my weekly surf session. I started taking a lesson with my kids at the beginning of this year, and I have been diligently pouring my time and energy into figuring out “how” to surf. I know how to swim and lead a relatively active lifestyle, but not particularly athletic, so it has been a humbling experience to learn an entirely new sport. And honestly, a soon-to-be 45-year-old takes much longer to learn anything new than tweens and teens (my kids!).

Despite the long and often frustrating learning curve, I love surfing so much because it makes me feel 100% uncomfortable in every way. My first discomfort was getting into the water with crashing waves and a massive piece of an unfamiliar board to manage. Then, the awkwardness of balancing on my belly on the board on moving water while paddling, followed by the urgency to navigate the etiquette of other surfers on the wave (and dodging them with my dear life when it feels like they are coming straight at me). Recently, I graduated from surf lessons, so I am out there trying to get in the proper position to catch small-ish waves on my own. Because we are at a popular surf spot in Southern California, the water is filled with many people, all in black wetsuits with surfboards. From my newbie perspective, everyone looks so experienced and confident. I feel intimidated. I admire them every time they catch waves so smoothly and elegantly. It brings tremendous discomfort to claim my space to get in the position to catch a wave, even though the only way to catch a wave is to be in the right spot. I decide to paddle with focus and desperate hope that my board will glide smoothly to pick up enough speed it needs for me to stand up and balance. I am filled with uncertainty and ultimately surrender to the force of the wave. Despite all that, when it’s go time and I finally catch a wave, I am pierced with the complete joy of being one with the water, although briefly. The sensation of catching waves and hovering over a thin board as if I were a bird in flight is so invigorating that I go back into the water over and over, even with all of the discomforts in between.

I am pretty sure that these initial challenges will wear out over time (hopefully) as I get more experienced. But at this moment, I am observing and gently welcoming them instead of brushing them off. I am asking myself a lot of questions.

- Why do I feel out of place when I move my board and body to the spot between other surfers? 

- Why is it difficult to let go and 100% trust in the force of water for my immediate future when I paddle to catch a wave?

- Why is crushing water so triggering to me? Did I have past experiences that brought fear in the water and waves?

The inquiry to myself lets me know that I have something I should sit with and work on because much of the things I struggle with on the water are also rooted in my everyday experiences.

I am thrilled to share Trina’s Notebook People interview with Grainger this month. After reading the interview, I went to the library to borrow “Harriet the Spy” book. I can’t wait to open my younger self’s heart and dig into the lesson of this book. A.C.’s story of their passport-size Traveler’s Notebook is inspiring me to sit down, have a warm drink, and doodle on a petite notebook to pass the time gently. I am getting in the habit of taking a lot of notes in my everyday observations, so having a pocket-size notebook with me at all times feels tempting! At our studio, we finished updating our website’s 2024 planners and calendars. At this time of each year, we love supporting our community in finding the just-right analogue system. We get the most joy knowing these artifacts will hold beautiful human stories because when we peel the top few layers of who we are, I am sure stories are universal and deeply connected.

Back to my surfing adventures, I imagine surfing is telling me that discomfort is my biggest teacher in life. When I sense these discomforts coming up, whether emotional or physical, I better make friends with them instead of seeing them as my enemies. It takes vulnerability to accept discomforts because they often get mixed up with the concept of weakness or lack of some sorts. But what if we slowed down and held them with love? Who knows what insights we might receive from the experience?


always a work in progress...

Topanga // November 7th, 2023

**This is from our BK Love Letter for November 2023. If you would like to see the entire love letter we sent to our community, you can browse it via this link.


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