BREAK: Waves and Board Art

Inessa, my board, and Me with a lotta sunblock. The Kid told me his friends said, hey, I think I saw your mom in the water. She wears a lot of sunblock and wipes out a lot. LOL.
Symbols inspire understanding of the bigger ideas created by a writer. One of the tasks assigned to students is to seek out the symbols in a book. I’m sure you did this in English class! How do symbols emphasize what’s happening? What is the writer saying through a symbol? Is that bird in a story really a bird? Or is it about the heroine yearning for freedom?

After my divorce I began to learn to surf. I live in Hawai’i and while it was a place I came for family visits, I never learned to surf. I’m still learning. There are certain aspects of understanding this process that have come to symbolize my journey.

As a beginner, one of my challenges revolves around catching a green wave. It looks intimidating given that up close, it’s an unbroken wall of water, yet if you can get over its appearance, it can offer a smooth ride. There are different sizes of green waves, but they share that they have not been broken. In contrast, white water or foam is more approachable, but its turbulence can make for a rough unstable ride. The foam looks easier for it’s a wave that has broken, a bit tried and true, or at least less scary, but in the end, it’s choppy and can be hard to ride. Still, there’s that element of fear, to try what has never been tried.

When a friend told me the green wave is easier, I thought of how we are often afraid of what is new and untried, and our timidity and sense of caution urges us to the white water because it seems safer, already broken, only to find ourselves tossed upside down in the water by the chaos simply because we feared trying something new.

I ride a lot of white foam. But I’ve started to try to catch green waves. I want to try to catch what hasn’t been broken. They don’t have to be big ones, but I know that allow myself to go beyond what is familiar is how I learn.

Divorce is going for the green wave.

I met Inessa Love right before my divorce process began. She too had divorced and had a teenager and it was reassuring to me to see another woman who had undergone this journey and who had thrived and made an incredible powerful new life. We first hiked together and now we surf and catch some yoga classes. I always admire how Inessa engages with life.

As a young woman she immigrated from the Ukraine and truly manifested an incredible life. In addition to being a top economist and professor who hikes and surfs, she paints and gardens, writes poetry and plays pickleball, does acroyoga (that’s right, that upside down turnaround yoga stuff!), teaches tai-chi, and now, she paints surfboards!

Check out  @aumakua_board_art on IG. I asked her to paint a wave on my board. I love it! I can even wax the board so it curves along the paint of the wave. Sometimes I look down at my board when I’m out in the water and it makes me happy to see it. I think of waves and the Pacific as where I have come to understand the privilege of what it means to be alive and a part of the natural world.

Lucky Come Hawai’i.

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