Originally uploaded by pwallroth.
Laird Hamilton once said, “I don’t want to not live because of my fear of what could happen.” Brilliant words and even more so when you know the context. It was during an interview about a wave he caught in Teapou, Tahiti – the heaviest wave ever surfed on film. When you see this thing…. well, it’s breath taking. His survival of the wave was a combination of all things coming together in one poetic moment - his skill, the wave, timing, the universe. He was smart enough to be humbled by the experience and even said that it took some edges off him.

I’ve had those moments, myself.

Those experiences that seem as if the whole of creation came together – myself included – to take part in something extraordinary, scary and breathtaking. Some of this has come, also, in surfing in waves that were bigger than my “skill” level. I am sure many parents would say the birth of their child was akin to this type of experience. And the edges are shorn just a bit. We are smoother where we needed to be.

This morning I was thinking about Laird’s statement. Being an English major I couldn’t help but rethink the double-negatives, asking, “What would it sound like if they weren’t there?” The result is something like this: “I want to live because of my excitement (?), enthusiasm(?), joy(?) of what could(?), will(?) happen.” There’s enough meaning behind each word that I had to have options. And this isn’t an exercise in rhetoric so much as an exploration in how I want to live my life.

When I let this new version sink in, then I am pretty stirred up to live well. Part of what comes with the change of words is a change in responsibility. It’s not just up to me that life will be grand and amazing. It presumes an Other that is the one who fills in the “will” the “coulds.” It presumes belief and not just reaction. I want to live and live well because of all the giddy excitement of what’s coming down the line. That is the opposite of fear. And it’s not longer just about facing one’s fears and defying them. It’s about facing one’s joys and embracing them. Far from pie-in-the-sky optimism – for anyone who knows me knows that doesn’t fly – it is a choice in what one gives attention to.

Now, for all the awe that comes with Hamilton’s accomplishments, he is still merely human. No more or less than you or me… except in how we choose to live our lives.

Like Mike Scott sang: Once you were tethered, well now you are free; That was the river, this is the sea! - This is the Sea