That morning at Canggu Beach I didn't know what I was getting into. At breakfast I tried to not think about it and was pretty good blocking the fear from my mind because what could I do then? I knew building it up would make it worse.
Quinn and I started practicing surfing form with our instructor on the sand with our massive beginner boards. We learned about paddling and where to put our feet on the board. I learned from my first ski lesson where my ski instructor left out a couple crucial details that I needed to ask the instructor stupid questions to make sure I'm not missing anything.
Are there sharks attacks here?
What about rip tides?
How should I fall?
What should I absolutely not do if I fall?
I then started practicing falling to get his approval on appropriate "eat shit" methods. This helped me feel like I wouldn't shock him with my potentially fatal falling instincts.
Then we started paddling out to the waves which was already a workout and I faced my first fear of swimming at the waves. I was getting bounced around a bit and could feel the fear rising.
In the water we talked about technique of catching the wave and it must have been no more than 3 minutes since the man was not a fluent English speaker. I was waiting for an apology about the waves and the surf philosophy. A shaka would even help. But alas, all he said was look at the shore which seemed pretty useless at that point.
He started to announce "Ready??" and I was panicking. I think that was about the time I wanted to say thank you sir for the tutorial, but this isn't worth it. I wanted to go back to the shore and just coast. I remember being convinced I was going to get out. The fear was overwhelming here, my brain had me convinced from logic and past experience not to do this.
Somehow I just thought you're here in Bali, you're doing it. Then I started to paddle and waited for him to say "UP!" like he promised. I felt the wave start to carry me and it felt like a roller coaster firing you out of the gate. I never heard him say UP over the noise so I just went for it after his long pause. I don't remember how far I got but I definitely tipped over and went under the wave. I was a little shaken up but the bandaid was ripped off.
I came back for a 2nd and 3rd time and still had a panic mindset that the instructor pointed out. He was a bit of a grumpy old man and was barely encouraging.
"Stop panicking, you panick" I'm panicking!? Dude, you don't even know what I'm like not on the board.
"Look at the shore" I'm aware, brah.
It took me about 8 times and I finally rode one. It was AMAZING. It was both empowering and felt like I was flying. And the instructor was right about looking at the shore, it just seemed too obvious and I didn't exactly get what he meant.