A Taste of Liberation
The following excerpts were drawn from my daughter, Sarah Leliani’s essay “Becoming Leilani” that she wrote for her college creative non-fiction class. I chose it because I believe it clearly illustrates the joy to be found in liberating ourselves from anything that might hold us back and truly experiencing life at its fullest. Sarah had made up her mind that she wanted to try surfing, and the opportunity presented itself when she took a trip to Hawaii in order to take her Tutu's (grandmother's) ashes and put them in the ocean so she would be reunited with her grandfather, Papa Ernie, who passed years ago --
I breathed in the salty air and looked to the horizon, smiling with nervous excitement. Pono (my cousin) grabbed the surfboards out the back of his small green pickup truck as I slipped my father's rash-guard shirt over my head. At seven o'clock in the morning the waves were gray and misty, rolling over top of one another and crashing into the sand. Standing there on Oahu beneath the early rising sun the ocean beckoned to me.
We laid the boards on the sand and stretched our stiff bodies. Pono briefed me on the safety guidelines of surfing and surfer's etiquette before we strapped ourselves to the boards and hit the water. My heart began pounding in my chest as the waves grew in size and intensity while Pono held onto and guided my board. I kept repeating everything he'd told me in my mind - body centered on the board, push up to let the wave pass between you and the board, don't face sideways against an oncoming wave and' most importantly, if you wipeout do NOT fall in head first.'
"We'll wait here 'til I see a good wave," Pono said. "'When I do, I'll turn your board around for the first one and when I yell 'paddle', you PADDLE! Once you feel the push of the wave, stand up!"
As I paddled towards the curling tongues of saltwater l realized how terrified I truly was. These were just baby waves, but there remained the possibility in the back of my mind that my very first wave could very well be my last. I could fall incorrectly and hit my head on a sharp reef or have a run-in with a hungry shark that mistakes me for a fish. Though I was terrified, I realized how incredibly badass I felt. And by badass, I mean I was overcoming my fears and simply going for the thrill of a new adventure. Hawaii has this vibe of, 'I can do anything' and it welcomes you like a cool breeze of fresh air. I was at the mercy of Mother Nature and in a strange way it felt good. In the same way I felt fear I also felt an enormous amount of respect - respect for the wild, unclaimed territory that is the ocean.
Pono finally found a wave that looked to be a good one and prepared me for the ride. He flipped my board around and before I could glance behind me there was a push of water rushing beneath my board. I was so nervous that I only made it to a kneeling position and quickly flopped back on the board again. Pono jokingly yelled, 'Why didn't you stand up on the board?" I paddled towards him with trembling arms and the determination to get it right the next time. I was not giving up so easily. I wiped out on the next wave when I accidentally stepped too high up towards the nose of the board. I braced myself for it as soon as I knew I'd made the wrong move.
But as it goes, the third time's a charm! Pono found another promising wave for me to try and as I heard the thundering surge of water coming up behind me I paddled for all I was worth. Gathering my balance I slowly raised myself to a standing position, flying high above the water with arms outstretched against the backdrop of a blue horizon. "This is so RAD!" I yelled in exhilaration. As the wave dissolved I centered myself on the board once more and paddled out with all my strength (which is a lot harder than one might think. . .) for another taste of liberation.
So what about you? Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone and get a taste of liberation? You’ll know unless you try. As my daughter said – “It’s RAD!”