I have a crush on Blue Crush. And anyone who follows me on Twitter (The Dating Optimist) may have seen me post about it last night—I was almost frustrated to come across it, because I love the movie so much, I simply can’t turn it off. Part of why I love it is how much I wish I could surf like those girls—and for often I failed trying to learn….
I’ve been renting a beach house in Montauk, Long Island for ten years now. After a few years of watching the surfers there with envy, I decided I’d become one myself. So I grabbed the vintage 60s Bing surfboard from our rusty shed, thinking if I was going to learn to surf, I wanted to look cool as heck doing it. I tried for a full summer, standing up for partials of a second at most, but I spent far more time under the water than on it.
At the end of that summer, I gave it one last shot on a day the surfers would call “gnarly.” I thought the bigger waves would push me to succeed. I thought wrong. Instead, I spent the day tumbling around inside the whitewater, panicking as I tried to find the surface over and over, knocked down by more crashing waves, gasping my way to the top for breath, finally crawling my way back to shore. I no longer wanted to “die trying” to surf.
I know now that looking to learn on a vintage 6-foot board is kind of, like, dumb. But all I knew at the time was that I’d failed. I lost face and I lost confidence in myself—and I put the Bing back in the shed for good.
The point is, I relate to the fear that Anne Marie Chadwick (well, an adorably fresh-faced Kate Bosworth) had in Blue Crush about going back in that water after she’d had a surfing accident. Okay, fine, she was scared about surfing Oahu’s Pipeline, where the waves can get up to 30 feet high. But fear—whatever it’s about—can feel the same, whether the threat is a big wave or the huge fear of opening your heart to love.
In one of the early scenes of the movie, Anne Marie paddles to the Pipeline, wondering if she can get up the nerve to surf it like old times. She chokes while paddling into one wave, and tremendously wipes out on the next. Afterwards, her friends debate what she did wrong.
“If she had just paddled a little harder,” says Lena (Sanoe Lake). But Eden (played by Michelle Rodriguez) has a better take:
“It’s all in your head,” she says. “It’s all up here. I’m telling you, if you just would have committed, you could make that wave.”
It makes me realize how similar surfing is to dating and falling in love. They both seem like physical endeavors at first—girl meets board or girl meets boy—but what truly gets you soaring with happiness in both is due to what’s in your mind and heart. And once Anne Marie got brave in the movie, she succeeded enough to make her dreams come true.
Dating, too, is “all in your head. It’s all up here.” And you know that. I’m just reminding you: To truly find the love that is meant for you, you have to let go of your fear that you’ll be hurt. You have to let go of the panic that you’ll be tossed and tumbled and gasping for air at the end of a bad relationship, and go into it believing—knowing—that you can have a good one. If you just commit to that wave, to that happy romantic ending, you’re giving yourself the chance to get it.
Just as I became a dating optimist and decided to let go of my fears about opening up to love, I also decided to face my fears about getting back on a surfboard during a trip to Maui. This time, I started small (on what felt like a 20-foot board) and determined to succeed. Finally, I did:
Oh yeah, and never mind my instructor standing in the, ahem, waist-deep water behind me (I started smaller than you thought, huh?). Because it didn’t matter how baby my steps were, or how little I’d be hurt if I did fall. What mattered is that I got back in the water, and got to see what it feels like to stand up and ride a little wave. I was soaring that day, just the way a great love can make you feel.
Push yourself the same way. Be Blue Crush brave. Take baby steps if you feel better about it, start with a small wave. But the only way you’re going to get there is if you want to let go of your fears and commit. The ride is worth the falls it might take to get there.
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Big love and hang ten,