life(style) inspired by music and movement

Balancing Board of Life

Taryn Kristal

Posted on July 19 2017

Ten+ years ago, I moved from bustling NYC to the calming beach-burbia of Los Angeles.  I was immediately mystified.  Why did everyone seem so much happier?  Why were there fewer overweight people?  Why are strangers smiling at me and not looking down in avoidance?  It must be the weather and the palm trees.  After some time (although I think Vitamin D plays a role), I realized that the root of their happiness is that they appreciated their bodies.  Physically and mentally, they nurtured them as a way of culture- not duty.  Living at the beach, my routine began each morning with a walk to the corner.  I would stand in line with the other decaffeinated robots to get my fix (it was unheard of at the time for me to make my own coffee), take the iced commercialized advertisement in my hand, and stroll leisurely to a bench on the strand overlooking the pacific and the pier.  I would simply observe and marvel at the ambiance, soaking up some medicinal sunshine to make me feel the way everyone else did.  


Overtime, I noticed the same faces occupying the same spaces around me.  One girl in particular would walk down the cobblestone hill, barefoot on hot cement, with nothing but a bikini on her body and a board over her head.  She would slip into a wetsuit, zipper it all the way up (even if the blazing sun would dictate otherwise) and lay the board flat on the sand, right where the ocean kissed the shore.  She would step onto the center, gain balance, and begin what I recognized (since becoming a newbie to Yoga), to be her own routine of sun salutations and lunging warrior poses, planks and chaturangas- yet never stepping off of her board.  After about 15 minutes without ever stepping foot into the ocean, she would unzip herself from the suit, prop the board overhead, and head up the hill.  Peculiar I thought; assuming she had no idea how to actually surf. I recall feeling badly for her, in fact.  

One evening after an early release from work, I decided to get another pick me up cup and head to my favorite bench.  I was out of my routine so I was shocked when I saw "surfer girl" heading down the hill in hers.  Same as always, bikini, board, and suit over head. This time she walked all the way to the water's edge, put on her wetsuit, strapped the board to her ankle and dove right in.  I walked all the way out onto the pier lingering above her in jaw dropping awe.  She was spectacular!  I thought for sure it can't be the same scared girl who never goes into the ocean.  At closer glance- it was.  I was captivated by the fierce and romantic dance that she engaged in with the ocean.  The way her body bent and dipped, and the infectious smile she carried on each ride- and fall.  

As the sun set, she sat up on her board, legs dangling in the water, to marvel and pay her quiet respects to the electrifying sky.  When the sun was drowned by the sea, she paddled back to shore, and trekked back uphill.  I wondered if anyone else knew about her super powers.  The next morning (like clockwork), I sat on my bench, and she stood on her land bound board.  This time I smiled at her the same way an approving, proud parent would.  She smiled back politely, and I wondered if she notices me sitting on this bench every day the way I notice her.

That evening, I skipped out of work early and walked down to the pier to find her once again.  I watched from a perched view above her this time.  The other surfers seemed to acknowledge her ability and respect her right of passage on waves- or whatever surfer etiquette is.  The following morning after her routine, I introduced myself with more than a smile.  I explained how we've shared the same morning spot for weeks.  She simply said "I know.  Lucky us."  I couldn't help but ask- if she is such a skilled surfer, then why does she do this outside of the water every morning?  I will never forget her response.  "If I'm not grounded on land and give my body what it needs inside, how can I trust it at sea to not fail me on the outside."  More than that, she explained how her "water community" deserves that respect as well- to not cause harm to them.  Profound.  

Right then, I understood the importance of selflessness- the concept of caring for yourself in a nurturing and patient way without judgement for anyone.  We became friendly and she would tell me that not getting into the ocean every morning is the hardest part of her practice.  To be able to honor one thing at a time, and thus appreciate the other things respectively.  Because of that, she never takes the evenings for granted.  This catapulted my lifelong journey of wanting to honor that the best that I can, and find balance in the patience and pleasures of my life.  When things get rocky or challenging, Surfer Girl is always a grounding reminder of authenticity and persistence.