Day 18

Let Go and Live in the Moment

Page 192-194

Whichever Emotion Is Stronger Wins

When I was a young girl, there was a TV show about the escapades of a dolphin named Flipper. I loved watching that show. Flipper was always helping Sandy and Bud and Ranger Rick get out of trouble and making wonderful noises that sounded like laughter to me. Many years later when swimming with dolphins became popular, I added that to my list of “100 things to do before I die.” The day I arrived in San Diego, I headed for the beach and was thrilled to learn that dolphin pods regularly swam where I walked. But a month into my new life at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, I crossed swimming with dolphins off my list. My first “boogie boarding” experience changed everything.

A boogie board is a piece of styrofoam half the size of a surf board that
you lie on and, like a surfboard, ride it into shore. I was excited to try this
sport because it looked like fun. After a few successful rides close to shore, I went out farther, past the breakwater, waiting for the first big swell to curl. I found a beautiful wave to ride.

On my way back, I wasn’t prepared for the huge wave behind me. It
picked me up and swallowed me, breaking the safety band that connected
my wrist to my board. I tumbled in the wave like I was in a clothes dryer,
going round and round so fast I became dizzy. Surfers call it “Maytagging”
192 Living with Enthusiasm (as in a Maytag clothes dryer). My head hit the sand bar over and over again as I fought to catch my breath. Panic gripped my body as water filled my nose and mouth. No longer able to tell which way was up or down, my thoughts overwhelmed me, “Oh my God, I can’t get out. I’m going to drown.” I fought harder, thrashing my arms to get to the surface for air.

And then, I had the experience I’d read about: I thought about my family
and all the things I’d miss about them. I saw their faces in my mind’s eye as everything softened. I thought, “Okay God, I give up. I can’t fight this anymore. This wave is too strong.” I let my body go limp and prepared to die.

The next thing I remembered was popping up on the surface of the water, coughing, and choking, but alive! I was alive! And telling myself that was the last time I would swim in waves that size, if I even got back in the
water at all.

The following week, I received a call from a friend who knew of my
interest in wanting to swim with dolphins. “They’re back! I swam with
them last week. Meet me down at Del Mar Beach at six-thirty tomorrow
morning and you’ll get to live your dream,” he said.

“Um, I don’t think so,” I said. “I had a scary experience last week boogie boarding and those waves are too big for me. I think I’ll pass.”

“Oh, come on,” he teased. “You’re going to let one bad experience stop you from swimming with dolphins? All you have to do is dive into the wave on the way out and go with the wave on the way back. It’s easy.”

“It was really frightening, Ken,” I replied. “I’m just not ready to get back in the water yet.”

“Okay. Meet me down at the beach anyway,” Ken said. “You may change your mind.”

“I don’t think so, but I’d love to watch.”

I arrived the next morning and sure enough, out beyond the breakwater, about the length of a football field, was a pod of dolphins. Ken went charging into the water, urging me to follow. I waved him on as I watched the waves crest, remembering my tumbling experience from the week before. I felt the familiar fear spread throughout my body, until I glanced out at the dolphins and Ken swimming out to them. Oh, how I wanted that experience! My mind flashed to a book I’d read on dolphin communication.

The author said that dolphins are telepathic creatures and that she could communicate with them by thought. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I beamed my thoughts out at the pod and said, “If I’m supposed to swim with you today, you come in half way and I’ll meet you half way out.” I laughed at myself, thinking that I’d truly lost it until the dolphins began swimming in my direction! I held my focus and started toward the edge of the water. As they kept coming in closer, I kept going out farther until I was in the surf and diving under the waves and suddenly beyond the breakwater holding hands with Ken and surrounded by several dolphins.

Ken said, “Tread lightly so they don’t misinterpret your movement as hostile. Put one of your arms out in front of you, slip your ears under water, and listen.”

As I did, I felt the slippery smooth edge of “Flipper” touch the edge of my fingers and I heard a high-pitched sound of “eeeeee, eeeeeee, eeeeee,” under water. For the next ten minutes, three dolphins and two babies swam around us in a circle throwing their noses out of the water and swimming just within arm’s reach. It was magical

Magic is remembering the fleeting moment is all.
                                               ~  Anonymous

And then it was time to swim back to shore. I felt the fear rise up again, but I was so inspired by the dolphins that I just gave myself to the wave and rode it in like I was one of them. I made it back to shore safely, grateful to be alive, and elated to have swam with these spectacular ocean angels.

Later, when I reflected on how I broke through my fear, I learned something about emotions: whichever emotion is stronger wins. That day, my enthusiasm for swimming with dolphins was greater than my fear of drowning. Now, whenever I am confronted with something that feels overwhelming or frightening, I ask myself where the enthusiasm is hidden.

If I can focus on the enthusiasm and the anticipated prize, I can move through the fear and experience the precious present. So can you. Let go and live in the moment.

To “let go” is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it. To “let go” is to fear less, and love more.
                                                                  ~ Anonymous

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