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What We Can Learn About Life from Ocean Waves

There’s something magical about swimming in the ocean.  Nothing makes me feel so renewed and cleansed on a physical, spiritual and emotional level like emerging from the salty Pacific after hours of trying to master unpredictable waves.

Some girls like to enjoy the ocean from the sand while suntanning and “keeping it sexy”.  But being a Southern-California girl myself, there’s nothing that can keep me from diving in to swim and surf until my muscles grow weak.


This week is our annual family beach house vacation in Carlsbad, just minutes from San Diego, and I realized it  took almost a year for me to start forgetting how much fun this trip is for us.

For one week, Kevin, the kids, my parents and I stay in a beautiful house just steps from the beach, with mornings spent laughing over coffee and days spent building sand castles and swimming in the Pacific waves.


Today was no different.  The kids and I splashed in the waves before I headed out for open water leaving them with “Grandpa” to play in the sand.  And then it came- the one wave that every person encounters while daring to confront the ocean.  It’s the underestimated wave that as it comes closer, you realize it’s going to take you under because it’s too large to ride and too late to retreat from.

After my wave- “the one”- came today and sent me crashing to the sandy ocean floor, I emerged with just a scraped elbow and a nose full of salty sea water before realizing that we can learn most of what we need to know in life from ocean waves.


As in life, if you can make it through the break of the tumultuous ocean waves, minutes (seconds, more like it) of tranquility and beauty are waiting ahead.  Each of us face tough challenges and chaos in life, and it’s only when we make it through do we get to exhale and experience that inner peace that comes from realizing our strength, however brief that moment may be.  And, the more arduous our challenges are, the more joy we get to experience.

So, with board by my side, I take each wave straight on to make my way further out into the ocean.  Some waves are easy to confront and I walk through the break with ease.


A bit more effort is needed with bigger waves and with board overhead, I jump through the break making it triumphantly through.

And then, as in life, there are waves that hit you so hard they send you falling backwards to the beach as if to say, “only the strong can make it past me.”


And at least once during the day (or a lifetime) there’s one wave that knocks you down so hard, you retreat to your beach chair to lick your wounds.  Or, while looking ahead at  peaceful sea awaiting you beyond the breaking tide, you decide to stand up and make your way through the waves again without knowing what will come next.


And then once you do make it through the turbulent waves, what lies ahead is time to float effortlessly on your board while gliding over the rhythmic swells mimics the feeling of floating in the sky.  It’s then that you realize the vast breathtaking open ocean of unlimited possibilities, while  the chaos  of waves crash on the beach long behind you.

For a moment, at least, you feel that connection to your inner strength, wisdom and to what’s larger than- and connects- each of us with limitless potential, love and possibility because you had the courage to make it through.


This post is dedicated to my best friend, Jason Beck.




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