26 February 2018

Hafiz Adewuyi

An accidental lesson from the center of the ocean

"When things get rough, it means you're closer to the finish line than ever before"

Last Sunday afternoon, a moment after wrestling with the awe-inspiring waves of the ocean, about 10 metres off-coast at the Eleko beach in Lagos, I got an insight.

This is how a foray into the waves of the Eleko beach typically goes. A few steps past the chicken-hearted majority who flee back in fear, the moment the water seems like it might cover their feet, you're met with quite a bit of turbulence. At this point, the waves are not that high, but they have a force that threatens to uproot and slam you into the loose sands beneath. "Begone, for you, do not belong in here, mortal", the sea god seems to intend to say to the lowly intruding mortal that you are.

The deeper in you go, the stronger and higher these waves become. I tell you, without strategy and intent, you cannot venture beyond a couple of metres into the raging waters of Eleko beach. My strategy to go deeper, as I can't swim and even if I could, probably couldn't swim against such force, usually consists of a couple of actions:

  • Monitor the waves keenly, making sure to spot the next wave at least, a few seconds before it hits
  • When you see a strong wave coming, fall back into it or assume the position of a sideways forward lunge to reduce the degree to which the water pushes you back onto the coast
  • If the waves are high or almost high enough to submerge you, crouch into the waves, ensuring that you're completely submerged (you'd probably want to hold your nose to prevent water from rushing into them). The impact on you is less strong under the waves versus when you allow the head of the wave hit you directly
You essentially repeat the steps above, wave after wave until you reach your destination. What is the destination of a journey into the ocean, you might want to ask? Well, the interesting fact that I discovered purely by experimentation is that after about 6 metres into the beach, the waves become very gentle. Instead of pushing you back towards the shoreline, they give you the chance to play with them.

The waves don't entirely lose their momentum, no. But at this point, its force is low enough to allow you rise and sink with the waves. You're now at the very point where the waves just start to build the momentum with which they'll banish the struggling mortals behind you. And this my dear friend, is where you want to be. For before this point, there is no chance of basking in the ocean for you. Before this point, it's an endless struggle to remain on your feet as you fight wave after wave.

Distract yourself from the waves for a second, and look back at the coast. And you would wonder where the gentle wave which just passed you by got such power from. You're now behind the waves. You made it.

If it floats your boat, now is the time for you to pretend to be Poseidon in human form. Lift your hands as you command the waves to keep the lowly mortals out of your divine and pure sanctuary. Come get me if you can, you bellow out without moving your lips, knowing how little a chance any of them stands to make good on that challenge.

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