When learning to surf as a teenager, I remember contemplating the sets of waves. Waves form in clusters - a set of around 7 waves builds up in height until ‘the big one’ comes through. And then the waves go quiet until the next set rolls through.
Standing on the beach contemplating the sets helped me see those quiet periods (the lulls). These were the sweet spot to get out the back (where I’d then be able to have fun catching the waves). I still had to paddle hard; but by waiting I would enjoy my surf much more.
Paddling into the ocean without acknowledging the sets, I’d inevitably find myself in a washing machine of waves breaking mercilessly on my head. I’d swallow sea water. I’d be paddling furiously without progressing. I’d be exhausted and resentful of the ocean - not a good head space as a land-dwelling human at the whims of the oceanic domain.
Knowing how to read the ocean was important to my ability to surf.
I had to stop on the beach.
I had to pay attention.
I had to watch how other people paddled out and pick-up the patterns of their successes or failures.
I had to choose my path.
So. How can we - you and I - choose our paths more effectively in the sea of relationships we encounter daily?
For me, it’s taking time to observe, watch and pay attention. I’m learning to track the ‘sets’ in my human relating by recording and mapping interactions, feelings and experiences. Journalling, gardening and walking give me space to reflect and reconcile.
Knowing the places and spaces for observing and watching are key.
Do you know where they are in your life?
Find your place to stop and observe. Let the perspective help you to pick the best line of approach to your relating so you can get to the place where you most enjoy.
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