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A Schmuck in the Waves

Just got back from a lovely, relaxing week in Huntington Beach, reading, hanging out with friends and going to the beach. Swimming and body surfing in the ocean are among my favorite things to do. Looking at the vibrant beach scene, I decide that the next time I’m here, I’ll bring along a boogie board.

Southern California beaches are home to some of the finest surfers in the world, the waves are big, the current is strong, and the undertow can be powerful. I’m a good swimmer, do laps in an Olympic size pool and have for many years; this is my element. My wife takes a picture of me holding the Boogie board before I plunge into the ocean. I’m looking confident (maybe even with a bit of a swagger) and from a distance I’m still looking pretty good for an old dude; get closer and you can hear my sometimes-labored breathing.

I paddle out, feeling free and frolicking in the waves as the strong current carries me far down the beach and I ride the waves into shore. When I get off the board, I’m standing in ankle-deep water, the crashing waves behind me and the returning undertow in front of me create a cloudy turbulence causing my heels to dig into the sand. Unable to see my feet in the churning waters I get a little out of balance and drop my boogie board to regain my equilibrium. When I stand up I can’t easily pick up the board because it too is being sucked into the sand. Having difficulty extricating my feet and boogie-board simultaneously I’m getting shorter and shorter of breath.

I managed to extricate myself but by the time I get out I’m breathing so heavily I just crash on the beach. My old certainties and confidence not only illusory but perhaps delusional.  I have always functioned under the impression that with intelligence, effort and commitment you can overcome whatever your limitations and hardships. Turns out that such certainty is only a tribute to the arrogance of the ego.

Aging is nature’s way of taming the ego, add any physical limitations and it intensifies the process. The ego is the manager of our lives, it was never intended to be the boss. Lying supine and breathless on the beach I feel like a bit of a schmuck. Surely, I can negotiate these new ego-taming waters and ask for a little help from my friends without feeling minimized because of it.

I want to be truthfully present in the here and now, loving life and appreciating every moment.

Have a great week Relatives… reach out and touch someone’s heart today

I say this for all my relations, Mi Takuye Oyasin

2 Responses to “A Schmuck in the Waves”

  1. Rick Huntress says:

    Sounds like my efforts at surfing last summer in Nicaragua visiting my daughter and grandkids-lots of heavy breathing and unable to stand up with balance. But was enough just to be back out in the waves and sun! Big incentive to get more physical exercise each day, and pursue more physical chores and activities and to spend less time on my couch! More time at the beach, in the mountains, on the trails, and chasing grandkids! Good to see you staying active and happy! Big Love & Hugs, Rick & Elisabeth

  2. Carl Hammerschlag says:

    Good to hear from you and Elizabeth and sending my fond regards. :O)

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Dr. Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D., CPAE is a psychiatrist, author, and professional keynote speaker. He is an authority in the science of psychoneuroimmunology mind, body, spirit medicine and speaks about health and wellness, healing, leadership and authenticity . He has delivered motivational keynote speeches to corporate and business clients around the world.