Fear, or ‘Learning To Surf’


Me at surf school last year!

Here’s a spoken word poem I wrote while learning to surf.

There are those who say
Better never to meet the ocean.
To observe the tide
Or paddle out between the sets.
Or to wait in the swell
With silence
And respect.
Never see a sun ray
Kiss the ridge of a wave
That soon becomes a wall.
This could lead to failure
Or a fall.
Better never to have paddled out
At all.
A glance behind,
I find the wave with my eyes
But the shape and speed are not fixed
Some things we can’t predict
It could die or split: a second too late
And the moment’s missed.
A lazy arch of the back
And I’ll nose dive
And sometimes
I just lose my faith
Or I’m so tired
That I do a kind of slow slide
And renounce my body
And my breath
To the tide.
Some say there are dangers in store.
Better stay on the shore,
Aim for a low score.
Those who want more might fail.
Better never to let the wave catch your tail.
I stretch out, hold steady,
Press my face to the nose,
I flatten my toes,
Hold tight to my saddle
The harder I paddle
The faster it goes.
Like a giant
I rise with the swell
Like the pearl in some humungous oyster shell
Or the clapper in a cathedral bell.
Most often,
It doesn’t go that well.
And the next thing I sense
Is salt on my tongue
A crash and a rush
Which way have I gone?
A tug on my leg,
Board sailing ahead,
And my soles search for the sea bed
At first,
I behold the expanse
And I curse.
But almost as soon
I’m bowing before the horizon:
I look to the moon.
I whisper my gratitude for the tides,
And the sting in my eyes, and
Some say it’s a lucky escape.
You dreamed in the shape of a wave
Don’t you see?
That’s a dangerous game.
Let the passion fade
And wade in
To wait in the shade.
But waiting for nothing is worse
Than dreaming can be.
There’s a secret between the ocean and me.
I’ve been to the other side
Danced in harmony with the tide
Felt a synergy with the sea
This union of body and mind
The peace that falls upon me as I glide
With the stillness inside
It could swallow me whole
But it makes me a king!
I can fly on an eagle’s wing
And the clifftops sing
To greet me where I land
As I dance over rocks
And sail over sand
And freedom does not have a throne.
Freedom is catching a wave on your own.
Riding your fear with courage and grace,
Entrusting yourself
To the ocean’s embrace.
(The answer to yesterday’s question was ‘two’.)

4 thoughts on “Fear, or ‘Learning To Surf’

  1. First of all, this is lovely poem. I like the combination of all the media and the way you have chosen the order of appearance: First the picture of the surf school to illustrate the topic of your poem, then the spoken part (wonderful voice, well-performed with musicality) and finally the text. The rhymes are nice and do not sound forced. Also, I like how your poem becomes a metaphor for life itself, in general: Our fears to live being compared to those to surf. Good job!

    Liked by 1 person

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