Throw Punches at Ocean Waves

 Hey World,

I’ve come to realize that people in the decade of their twenties fall into one of two camps: people who have everything in their life together, and people who are a disheveled hot mess who have no idea what they’re doing.

It’s alright, I too fall into the latter category. And unfortunately, this may not only be true about 20-29 year olds…but let’s not get into that right now.

I’m writing this post for the young 20ers out there; the people like me who are being bombarded by this crazy thing called ‘life’ and don’t know what to do.

Well, I’ve come to realize that ‘life’ is a lot like a wave. The motion of the ocean never stops moving (thank you, moon), and the way we interact with life is a lot like the way we interact with a wave.

So, I’m going to outline a number of possibilities on how you might react to a wave coming at you (assuming you’re standing in thigh-high water) when moments before you were content simply standing where you were.

1.    Standing looking at the shoreline; unaware of the incoming water monstrosity behind you

Well, if this is you, the first thing I am going to say is PAY ATTENTION AND TURN AROUND! How are you supposed to succeed in achieving your goals and dreams if you aren’t even looking the right direction to see what’s going on around you? Jeez Louise. Avoiding getting hit in the back with a wall of H20 and being tackled face-first into salt water should immediately become your #1 priority.

2.    Feet planted firmly, looking directly at the wave, attempting to avoid being knocked over

If this is you, I totally admire what you’re trying to do. It’s like that kid from the famous Youtube viral video that kept saying “Come at me bro!” You know things might get rough and that you might get knocked to your knees, but you aren’t afraid to look your adversary right in the (hypothetical, unless there’s a fish in the wave) eyeballs and show them you’re not afraid. If you bend your knees and brace yourself; you just might come out the winner!

3.    Ambivalently perpendicular to the wave; neither looking at the shoreline nor the wave, but pensively contemplating how far into oblivion the wave continues, unaware it’s fast approaching

Alright, I know the world is a beautiful place, but with a giant wave is coming your direction, now is not the time to be contemplating the beautiful world we live in. You’re getting too distracted with big-picture questions to engage in the moment. I’m not saying don’t engage with philosophical questions, but NOW IS NOT THE TIME. Save it for the calm between the crashing waves. Save it for when you’re further out in the ocean. Save it for when your feet are planted firmly on solid ground.

4.    Diving into the wave when it comes…disrupting the wave’s power with the forward motion of your own.

This is a top option. You know the challenge is arriving; the hand your opponent is about to put on the table, and you’re willing to lay your flush down – confident the game may be yours. There is nothing better than undermining the confidence of your attacker – life should be wary of wave-challengers like you. You know the risks…you know the power you’re up against. But you also know your own strength, and you’re not afraid to go to battle. All the power to you, I hope you emerge victorious!

5.    With your back to the wave, preparing to bodysurf your way back to the beach

You’ve made a game time decision. You’re not ready to get washed out, and you think you’re clever enough to harness the power of the wave to ride into shore. Clearly, this was a last minute decision, because you didn’t even bring your boogie board, but that’s alright. You know you can ride it out (literally), and being on shore isn’t so bad anyway, right? Maybe. But in order to puff out your peacock feathers a little, you also are willing to relinquish your current ocean presence. I thought you loved the ocean...why are you going to shore all of a sudden? If I were you, I’d reconsider.

6.    Deliberately perpendicular to the wave; hoping it will slice by you and you will remain unscathed.

You might as well crouch in a ball and tie a white flag to your swimcap. You have a 50/50 shot of being tackled head-first into the shore or getting swept off your feet but floating back into position after the wave passes. If you get lucky and you remain standing, it is only because the first wave knew that a larger, stronger, angrier one is coming to follow. Avoidance may work in the short-term, but it’s not going to work forever.

7.    Facing the wave, body crunched, ready to try to jump

Are you Superman? Do you think you really have the ability to avoid the wave completely? Let’s not be cray-cray. Do not choose to deliberately ignore reality. Unless you are an Olympic high jumper, this should not be your game plan. You need to get back to the drawing board…fast.

8.     Looking directly at the wave, uncertain about whether or not you are stronger

There’s nothing like contemplating your strength moments before a fight. Your feet may or may not be planted in the sand. Your knees may or may not be placed. You don’t even know what’s going to happen yourself. Are you going to turn at the last moment? Are you going to jump, or crouch, or dive, or spin around and run? It’s anyone’s guess…the answer will be left up to a split-second whirlwind of strength, water and indecision. You may find strength deep inside you for battle, or you might succumb to sand in your swimsuit bottoms as you get tossed like a ragdoll under the wave’s crashing froth. Good luck, my dear.

9.    With your back to the wave, with a boogie board or surfboard in hand; prepared to utilize its power to get you to shore with little effort.

Clearly, you knew this moment was coming, because you came prepared. If anything, you’ve got a brain in your head and a board in your hands, and while you might have been carrying that darn thing around for days, you’re finally ready to wield your forward-thinking secret weapon! For you, coming to shore was inevitable. You knew the ocean would ultimately win, but you’re not trying to be shamed when you return to land. You’ve picked out something tye-dye, and you’re going to smile with the water out of your face…until you get some sand in mouth. Oh well. It was a fun ride.

10. Feet planted firmly, looking directly at the wave, fists up and ready to punch the incoming water.

This is the person I hope we all become. You are not only challenging the adversary; you are the adversary’s adversary. You are a strong, powerful, confident individual who is ready to throw the first punch. You are not going to let the wave make the first move. You are proactive, not reactive. You know what your position is, and even if you are drowned by water, you will go under knowing you gave it every ounce of your being. You may tumble underwater with no regrets, you may be announced the victor, and with your feet planted, you are already preparing yourself for the next challenger. You will not accept defeat. You love your place in the ocean, and you will stop at nothing to keep moving forward. I pity the wave that stands in your way!


Did any of these people resonate with you? Which person have you been, who are you now, and which person would you want to be?

The way you react to waves parallel the ways in which we might face that dreaded thing called ‘life’. Do you succumb, or do you face the challenge? Are you ready to shrug off your dreams and head to shore, or are you going to put up your dukes and prepare for a fight?

My favorite band, Envy on the Coast, uses the phrase in their song “The Gift of Paralysis”, and it is a line that I have loved since I was in high school. After a man challenges the ocean,

“The ocean prays for his demise,
But I swear to you, I watched his heart pump blood into those veins,
Throwing punches at ocean waves, throwing punches at ocean waves…”

In the face of Goliath, I hope we become David. I hope we become fearless. I hope we keep our feet planted, and our heart pumping. I hope we are ready to fight for what we want, no matter the odds.

I hope we all become the person who throws punches at ocean waves.



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