The 24th of January, 2017
The only time you could potentially have the ocean to yourself is in the night – a surfer’s holy grail. I learnt my favourite sport at the Beach in Kuta. It’s familiar, a little forgiving and lets you flow. When you’ve grown to know every wave, every rock, every little boil, surfing is almost a meditative ritual. The moon, a waxing gibbous, gave me light. As did the company of a coach who taught me how to need only three things: your body, a surf-board and a wave. Never recognized the allegory as a tot but I do now: Mind. Means and Purpose. And you realize, we don’t need much more to go after our cause.
We paddled out like we had the very first time. Happiness, as it always does, came in waves. And we rode the ones we were given. It was here: the most blissful rush of blood. Here, in an illuminated darkness.
Our moon hadn’t made it there yet but we found ourselves stargazing from the sandy foyer of the Full Moon Café on the beach soon after surfing. I was forced to look away when a teeny, insolent crab, crawled up onto my foot to more snugly eavesdrop on our conversation, refusing to scurry into her hole even after I shook the land beneath her feet. The land basically being my foot. How can I tell it’s female? I would never second guess a woman’s commitment to snoop.
In a voice as deep as his closest buddy, the Ocean, Coach Kai, tall, tanned, strapping, lean (but the muscular kind), bearded with salt from the same friend, brought me willingly back from the crab, “Look at the stars, Kiz – it won’t fix the economy. It won’t stop wars. It won’t give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it’s important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe. That we’re not so important in the grander scheme of things.”
“She was a set-up, Ms. Krabs!” I conjectured, far away in my thoughts. Coming back soon to ask, “Did you motion for the crab to come just before saying that to me? Because she’s so small.” We both laughed at that. Our calamari rings arrived. Fried to a crunchy caramel. With its special dipping sauce. We bit into the hot crisps. They tasted like the first time I ate them. “I love coming home!”, I said, with relish, between bites of battered squid crumbling in my mouth.
Coach Kai’s sea green eyes turned a tad darker, “And that’s why you need to go away, Kiz. So, that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
“Yup…”, I waited a while before saying, “I guess I’ve got to step out of my shell. I bet Ms. Krabs wants to. Even an earthquake didn’t shake her resolve. There’s a big, beautiful world outside and I can’t hide from it forever…”
“I think she came to tell you how important the small things are. That life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. Don’t lose sight of them no matter how extraordinary the dreams you chase are. Joy, sometimes comes to us in the most ordinary moments. The journey’s worth every mile. And if you ever feel lost. It’s a lovely place to find yourself.”, he added with a wink.
The orchestra of waves was giving us a recital of sorts. It was a fishy melody. As though these liquid wonders were trying to manifest the vagueness ahead. The Coach made sense of their song.
“Know that everything in life comes in waves. On some days you will drown, on others you will float. On some days you will feel broken, and on other days you will feel renewed. Be patient with yourself. Go live and learn, Kiz. Adventure is out there.”
“And you’ll be okay?”, I asked, joylessly. “Without reveling in whipping my sorry arse at just about every sport every other day?”
“I’ll be okay,“ his eyes twinkled with assurance and our shared satire, “With the Ocean all mine, of course I will!”. More earnestly then, he sort of soothed himself (or so I thought), “I’ll be better, in fact. To know you aren’t playing small. To know you aren’t settling for a life that is less than the one you’re capable of.”
Coach Kai let me have the last ring in the plate. “You know I’ll get you someday, right? Without you letting me win on the rare occasions that you do.” I feigned resentment, although I was secretly glad he’d let me have it – the victories and the calamari.
“Sure you will”, he confirmed, just as playful as he was positive. “But only if you’re willing to go where you’ve never been.”
I haven’t admired many men besides Pops. This one is just as hard to bid adieu to.
Oh Bali! Make me brave. Just enough to be the woman these men raised me to be.
I made the Ocean promise he’d take care of his playmate. With quicksilver wit, the silver tide told me, “Your next waves are waiting.” Oh! We’ll ride them. And we’ll drift with it.
Amid a high five to last a while and a salute to the big man, for the very first time, I saw the sea green pair get wetter than they already were. I couldn’t stop the sniffle either.
Pujian Pelatih Kai! Aku akan membuatmu bangga.
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