March 26, 2014
A visualization I did with my team on a day when Will, aka Master Visualizer, left me to run practice. Pieces borrowed, transformed and paraphrased from The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallawey. If you have not yet read this book, regardless of your participation in sport, it is well worth your time.
Put yourself on your favorite beach. The sun is out, shining down on your face as you lift your chin to soak up its warm rays. The sand is warm and soft under your feet, between your toes. You feel confident and powerful in your body as you walk toward the water.
The waves are cool on your legs but it’s a relief from the hot sun. You turn your head to the left, then to the right, looking along the shoreline. You realize that the beach is all yours. The ocean before you, the sand behind you, the bluebird sky above you, this beautiful day.. It’s all yours.
Small waves lap against your shins but as you look out over the ocean, you see larger waves crashing out farther, 200 yards off shore. As you watch the waves roll in, you notice a tiny black dot bobbing up and down over the break in the distance. You realize that it is a surfer.
The surfer is sitting calmly and quietly on their board, feet and legs dangling in the deep, cool water, floating up and over the waves, eyes intent on the next three waves rolling in, waiting, waiting. The surfer has a goal, of course – to ride a wave to shore – but there is a greater purpose to why the surfer waits. If the surfer simply sought to get to shore, paddling would get her there. If the surfer just wanted to “be in the flow,” she could do that on a medium-sized wave. Why does the surfer wait for the big wave?
The answer is simple: the surfer waits for the big wave because she values the challenge it presents. She values the obstacles the wave puts between her and her goal of riding the wave to the beach. Why? Because it is those very obstacles, the size and churning power of the wave, which draw from the surfer her greatest effort. It is only against the big waves that she is required to use all her skill, all her courage and concentration to overcome; only then can she realize the true limits of her capacities.
It is in these moments, attempting to ride the biggest waves, she discovers and extends her true potential. The potential may have always been within her, but until it is manifested in action, it remains a secret hidden from herself. The biggest waves, and the obstacles they present, are a necessary ingredient in this process of self-discovery. And that’s why the surfer waits.
The surfer waits, sitting calmly and quietly on her board, feet and legs dangling in the cool, deep water, bobbing up and down in the distance as the small waves lap against your shins. The sun is out, shining down on your face as you lift your chin to soak up its warm rays. The sand is warm and soft under your feet, between your toes. You feel confident and powerful in your body as you turn and walk out of the water and onto the beach.