Have you ever watched a movie where someone was surfing? As they paddle out to wait for the perfect wave, you see the look of concentration on their face as they wait for that moment; that feeling that tells them to paddle as fast as they can!
Well I remember watching Soul Surfer and seeing that look on AnnaSophia Robb’s face. She is the actress who played Bethany Hamilton in the movie. She tuned out the world while waiting on the feeling that would connect her to the perfect wave. Her hearing turned off the best she could, she focused on the water and the sense to paddle at the right time.
Although surfers do this all the time, can you stop and think of a time that you did the best you could to tune out the world to focus on something you wanted to accomplish? Just think, Bethany Hamilton has one arm and she is an amazing surfer and an amazing person to push past having to do things differently in life than a person who has two arms. It was a struggle at first, but she persevered and become very successful. Likewise, with a great attitude and perseverance you can do anything you set your mind to.
This reminds me of my son and all the kids that were a part of the Silent Surfers event this summer. There were Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind and Visually Impaired kids of all ages that came out to Jacksonville Beach to learn how to surf, despite their different-abilities. I watched these kids have the time of their lives as they would paddle out, wait for a wave, then paddle as fast as they could, stand up and ride the wave! Sometimes they would fall and sometimes they would catch a wave, but either way, they were smiling the whole time. They didn’t let fear of falling off the surf board (or actually falling off the board) stop them from having a good time.
How many times have we let our circumstance stop us from going forward? “This is too scary!” “This is to hard!” “I don’t know anyone there!” Etc. Well my friends, I have been there several times and I wonder what I have missed out on because I used these excuses too. My son has helped me realize that I need to try new things and I am having a blast and making new friends in the process. It was a scary thing for my husband and I to step out of our comfort zone and go to Deaf events. We had turn off our voice and use our very limited sign language vocabulary as our main communication. I had thoughts of… What if I mess up? What if people laugh? What if nobody wants to talk with me?
Why do we let simple things like this slow us down or hold us back? I am happy that I have learned to push past those fears! I learned sign language, and can communicate better with my son. I can enjoy life without feeling scared to sign or worried that someone may see me mess up.
As I stood there watching the surf instructor, sign language interpreter and my son go further out in the ocean, I was filled with joy! My sweet boy was about to learn how to surf and I was excited. I had my camera ready as I stood knee deep in the ocean and waited for my son to catch his first wave. He laid on the surf board watching and waiting for the feeling of the right moment to paddle as fast as his little arms could take him. When the moment finally arrived, he started to paddle, got on his knees and then to his feet. Away he went, surfing on the outskirts of his first wave! My heart was jumping and my smile took up my entire face. With one hand, my finger was clicking the button on my camera to take pictures while my other hand was holding my phone taking a video. All the while, water was crashing all around me as I cheered on my son and felt like the proudest mom on earth. Not only was I a proud mom at that moment, but this was just another opportunity to see life through Michael’s eyes. He was in tune with the water, the waves, the surf board and his environment. He succeeded at the task he set out to do, without any interruptions from anything around him.
I will never have the complete peace of silence like my son does. I have to work hard to block out the noise and turn off the million thoughts racing through my head, just to get a moment of peace. Michael has an advantage over us hearing people. If he wants to tune out the noises of this world, all he has to do is take off his hearing aids and enjoy the silence. I, on the other hand, would have to shove ear plugs in my ears, put on ear muffs, turn off all distractions and sit completely still. However, my son is so blessed to be able to enjoy his quiet time.
This was a day we would never forget – surfing, building sand castles, awards, a pizza party, being interviewed by First Coast News and a thunder storm that had us running for our car at the end of the day. You’ll definitely want to check out that link to First Coast News, featuring an interview with Michael!
We never would have known about the Silent Surfers Event had my son not been in FSDB’s Summer Camp. Here is another opportunity to thank FSDB for providing another life experience for my son and me. It’s amazing how much FSDB teaches our children and all the life experiences they give to the kids. Thank you Sue Hill and Amanda Tapley and all the FSDB Staff for working so hard to make this summer and every summer a fun time for our kids!
Now here are some pictures from our day. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. Click on the picture to view larger.