About a year ago, I was in Jacksonville, FL at Mayo Clinic for multiple health concerns that I still battle today. My mom and I took a break from the doctor visits and went to the beach one day. The beach was a wreck, and most parts were closed. This was after one of the big hurricanes tore through Florida in 2016. But surfers were still surfing, shop owners were still running shop, and the doctors at Mayo Clinic seemed unaffected despite all of the destruction around them. Some told me about the destruction in their own home while I was getting blood drawn, tests run, and x-rays taken. The resiliency of the town left me in awe.
I watched this particular surfer for a very long time. And I can honestly tell you that it was this moment that my outlook on chronic illness changed drastically.
The surfer stood still and waited. He trusted the waves. He waited for the perfect one. He waited with patience and didn’t rush the process. After all, it was not a process that could be rushed. And when the moment was right, he took the first step and everything fell in to place. Sometimes he fell, but he let the ocean catch him. He would float for a bit, then get back up and start over. Never frustrated. Never angry with the waves. Always patient.
Patience. That’s what I was lacking. And I’m sure this surfer didn’t always have patience. He practiced it.
You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.
I can’t stop this particular illness. So I “learned to surf.” I’ve learned patience with my body and with my mind. Patience with doctors when they can’t quite help me as quickly as I would hope. Patience with others as they learn how to understand my illness.
I’ve learned to just sit and watch the ocean rather than catching every wave. It hasn’t been easy. But it’s been worth it and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing.