Mastering the Art of Getting Back Up

The Secret of Windsurfing

A few years ago we were in Hawaii watching a group of young men windsurfing. It was wonderful to see how they attacked the huge waves, jumping or crashing through them for a thrilling ride.

They seemed to fly, hitting the waves, apparently without ever falling down. This amazed us. Most of the windsurfers we had ever seen spent the majority of the their time falling down, struggling to get back onto their boards, then fighting to stay upright.

It seemed impossible that these young men never fell, so we watched them more closely. What we saw at first seemed like magic, because their movements were so swift and smooth. They did, indeed, fall. In fact, because they weren’t afraid of falling they moved freely, ventured more risk, and fell a lot. Their falls, we saw, were a graceful part of the ride. As they hit the water they swung their big sails toward the sky, and their bodies and boards lifted as if by magic onto the next big wave without missing a beat.

So it seems, the secret in windsurfing is not how to stay up, but mastering the art of getting back up when you are down.

What a great metaphor for mental health! In windsurfing, as in good mental health, no one can stay up all the time. We all have times when we get fragmented or knocked into the water, so to speak.

But the secret in mental health, as in windsurfing, is in knowing how to get up again rapidly. Many people expend most of their energy trying to stay up and that is impossible. Relationships are the same way. Working on them constantly is exhausting; learning how to get back up is much more exciting. With a little practice you can learn to “surf” your own well-being and that of your relationship.

From Jack Rosenberg and Beverly Kitaen-Morse authors of The Intimate Couple

2 replies
  1. Dr. Julie Macecevic says:

    So true! Why is it so hard, especially for us perfectionists to embrace the fact that everyone falls, it is ok to fall, and in fact, beneficial, rewarding and potentially transformative to allow oneself to fall? I have lately been listening to Pena Chodron’s “When Things Fall Apart” and being reminded that it is so easy to get caught up in the shame and bad feelings of the “fall.” The work is in the witnessing of how we berate ourselves for falling and having compassion, forgiveness, and dare I say even an adventurous spirit regarding picking ourselves back up again, or gee, maybe even enjoying the pit into which we have fallen for what it has to offer. Every day a new learning/growing/evolving opportunity!

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