When you’ve been sick, not being sick feels so good, so joy-inspiring. I should remember that sensation more often, take my usual good health less for granted. I suppose I’d learn to cope with a chronic illness – what else can one do and besides, I witness the hardship of diabetes and asthma in our home, so the least I could do is summon a bit of grace if times called for it – but the weeks of coughing, of being subpar, meant a slow down of physical activity, leaving me feeling like a blob of PlayDoh that’s been left out too long: shapeless and inflexible. Waking up yesterday with the pendulum swinging back toward the healthy side kicked me into action. As soon as I returned from taking the kids to school, Sandy and I strolled out to the beach. To take this morning walk, all 25 minutes of it, means not letting anything else – laundry, dishes, email – interfere. If I stop to attend to domesticity, all hope is lost.

And to start the day off with my bare feet in the sand and the dog cavorting along the waveslope is second only to starting it with a surf. Sandy’s pure happiness, the ocean’s everpresent power, the observations of changing seasons along the dunes… All these things do far more to put my head in a good place, instill a sense of calm that I carry throughout the day. The physical movement is vital, too, when you spend your working day on your butt. Stretching and strengthening as I hike up the sand hills; working to redefine/maintain my body feels so right, especially when done outside as part of daily life – exercise as a consequence being active in the world rather than another item on the list of things to do. When people don’t have that in their lives, they’re missing something fundamental. We need that, right after food and shelter. I know it, but sometimes I have to kick my own ass to make it happen.

After KSLG, I made only minimal stops on the way to Camel Rock. (Ferndale to Westhaven? Let’s save the driving guilt for another time.) Arrived and was in the water just in time for low tide. Did I mention the sunshine? Remember what a horizon-to-horizon expanse of sky blue looks like? Yeah, that. Add in an explosion of gold, the darker, greener blue of the water, the pure white foam stampeding to shore. I caught waves. Not the better, hollow lefts because too many people were already on them – if I was more in shape, sure, I’d claim mine, but yesterday I was happy enough to catch the bigger rights, even if they did close out quickly. This was another session more about getting it back rather than soaking it in, which was more than fine. (Note: Inner critic is in agony over all the adjectives and non-specifics.)

Sometimes in the water, I think of other waves, good waves, I’ve had. This keeps morale up, reminds me what I am capable of. That wave at Bunkers, for example, when I was determined to surf bigger but my conscious mind kept losing out to instinctive fear when those mountains would roll in (“mountains” being a relative term). A wave came and, unfortunately, I was in position. A rational person would have paddled over it before it could break, then looked for the fastest way to shore without getting creamed. You can’t be rational if you’re a surfer, however, and you really can’t not go when one of the better surfers hollers, “Go!” at you. I paddled in front of the wave, watching it come toward me from behind. I remember sunlight into darkness as the peak moved in front of the sun, casting a shadow as it picked me up. Somehow, I landed on my feet. A brief moment of triumph ensued as I sped down the face. Then the foam caught up to me and sent me tumbling – but I’d made the drop, on a left even. I have many waves like that. Funny how those milliseconds of joy are enough to compensate for the hours of effort. Nonetheless, they keep me going.