My friend says I look pouty, like I’ve had collagen. I know she’s being kind. It really just looks like I’ve been punched in the mouth and my marriage needs intervention. For the record, my marriage doesn’t need intervention. I just need to learn to surf instead of face planting into the sand. But dammit, when did learning something new become so hard? It‘s been 11 months now, and instead of having it nailed, I’m being nailed.
Surfing is the first thing I’ve tried to teach myself as an adult. In the accumulated hours I’ve spent being tumbled in the whitewash, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a direct correlation between getting older and a diminishing capacity to learn. Remember struggling to ride a bike? No. That’s because it was no thang. Remember learning to read? No thang. Maybe kids can absorb better because someone else is running the logistics of their lives. Or maybe it’s because a hundred failures haven’t caused fear to fully form just behind their eyeballs. Or maybe it’s simply because we’re designed to learn when we’re new, not when we’re 30 years used.
That realisation is a sock to the gut. I’m no longer the kid with the infinite horizon of possibilities. The kid paddled out, turned 30 in the process, realised the horizon actually has an end, saw the end in the distance, and felt just a little scared. Suddenly, you realise you’re getting on. You’ve lost some things for ever. Like the ability to verbalise text speak — OMG ROFL — without jeopardising your next pay review. Or the permission to fall asleep anywhere, at any time, while you’re sober. Or to climb on someone’s lap and stick your fingers in their mouth.
If what I’m experiencing is a quarter-life crisis — and FFS I hate that phrase — then the good news is I’m already over it. I don’t believe them when they say the best days of my life are behind me. ‘Best‘ is not a word I associate with more than a decade of overt bullying in the schoolyard. Or 18 years of forced sobriety. Or the indignity of being grounded. ‘Best’ is yet to come. ‘Best’ is being able to say no when you want to. ‘Best’ is having the discernment to pick friends who make you laugh, not make you look cool. ‘Best’ is marrying the person who turns every day into a sleepover party. And ‘best’ is finally liking the person in the mirror.
Still, none of this pop psychology fixes my problem of getting on my surfboard. You’ll have heard that rule about 10,000 hours of practice right? Apparently, after that many hours of repeat, repeat, repeat, you‘ll master your task. I figure I can spare two hours each weekend day after hanging the washing and before making the dinner. So, that’s four hours a week and — taking off Easter and Christmas — that’s 100 hours a year. I’ll finally be getting up on my board in 2114.