Well, this morning’s Muezzin certainly gave it some welly. I am slowly becoming accustomed to being woken around 5am by the call to prayer that pierces the town’s slumber over the loudspeaker. This somehow is a fitting symbol of the Moroccan’s somewhat cavalier approach to a good night’s sleep. In a strange way, I am quite fond of the sound – it punctuates the day from dawn until dusk; five summons in total. However, I would describe this morning’s caller as possibly a tad self-indulgent – I may well be struck down as an infidel for such blasphemy, but really – it seemed a bit OTT. He went on for at least 20 minutes (usually it’s around 5 minutes) and, towards the end was frankly toying with us – he would seemingly grind to a blissful halt, and then around 30 seconds later mumble an afterthought. Aaaaagh…
Still, I am upgrading to a windowless room in a day or so, so will hopefully find sleep less elusive. Being someone who loves the outdoors and light, I have slight trepidation about sleeping in what could seem like a vampiric vault, but the bags under my eyes are growing alarmingly large, so needs must. Plus, it’s a much bigger room and I will no longer be in a single bed, which I’ve realised is far too reminiscent of teen/student years for me these days – a thirty-something’s prerogative.
Life has mellowed out significantly this week, as we’re hosting an external yoga retreat rather than running our own, so there is much less teaching and more down-time. The group are lovely and very self-sufficient, so I have had time to get my head round the office admin side and get out into the waves a few times. I’ve been facing my fears at a beach break called Tamri, which is notorious for its ‘show-no-mercy’ waves and powerful rip currents. I was machine-washed here a number of times when I came out to Surf Maroc on holiday a few years ago, so the butterflies in my stomach were swarming as we approached the beach. Once in the water, I remembered the might of Tamri – walls of foaming water bashed into me or, worse, dumped on my head, and I quickly had to remember the ‘turtle-roll’ technique to avoid being smashed down by the waves (you basically roll under your board, so it takes the impact whilst the wave washes over you). I desperately paddled out to move past the impact zone (ie where all the waves are breaking) and get ‘out the back’, behind the breaking waves. Once out the back, life becomes much easier- you get to bob about on your board, chilling out, chatting to other surfers, and awaiting the next set of ‘green’ (unbroken) waves to paddle for, then feeling the adrenaline rush of sliding down the face of a breaking wave; you are much more in control of the experience. Conversely, in the impact zone you are at the mercy of the might of nature, battling to literally keep your head above water. It’s rather unfair that beginners have to start in the impact zone before discovering the zen-like state of being out the back, but that’s the nature of the beast – I guess it’s a rite of passage.
Anyway, for the last two days, I completely failed to get out the back. I knew that, physically, I was capable – I’m a strong paddler and fit enough. However, what stops me is my fear. I fear the big waves crashing on my head and fear the possibility of feeling literally and metaphorically out of my depth amongst all the pros out the back. I nearly make it out the back, then see a watery behemoth racing towards me and turn tail, choosing to catch it in rather than risk it breaking on my head. This pattern was repeated on both days, despite me giving myself numerous stern talkings to. However, in the end I made a commitment not to beat myself up about it – the turbulent ocean was doing a good enough job of that already. Instead, I decided to give myself a break and congratulate myself on facing my fear of Tamri and being in the ocean. Once I lifted the pressure, I began to feel the exhilaration of being pounded by nature’s elements; the restless water, the wind in my face, the smell of the sea. I started to actually enjoy myself, and caught some lovely waves – OK, they were only ‘foamies’ (waves that had already broken), but I still managed to turn and ride along them as they continued to break, and found myself whooping, as I do when I feel the rush of speed in the water – always a good sign. I remembered why I love surfing, and that it doesn’t matter what stage I’m at, as long as I’m having fun. One day I will make it out the back at Tamri, I’m sure of it, but hey, I’m in no rush – I have six months of this!
So, in my usual way, I conclude by embracing both sides of the argument – there is a definite balance between facing the things that scare you and being kind to yourself and congratulating yourself for the progress you’ve made so far. It doesn’t matter where you are on your journey, as long as you’re moving in the right direction – for me, that direction is towards the horizon!
Two quotes to sum up both sides:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher