Being the adventurous (read: stupid) person that I am, when I was 40 years old, I thought it would be a terrific idea to learn how to surf. I figured that since I'm an athletic and dexterous person, I'd pick it up no problem. Little did I know how inane it is to underestimate the ocean and its power to humble a mere mortal. After taking me two years to not soil my bikini bottoms even in the wimpiest of waves, I began feeling comfortable with paddling to the outside of breaks, at least on diminutive days. I especially enjoy my local break, Ke-ei, when it's not pumping. The pure joy I feel when dropping in on the outside, then catching the reform for a long ride all the way in, can't be matched by any other activity.
One small day at Ke'ei, I was out enjoying an uncrowded surf session, catching wave after wave with ease. I felt elated that my skills weren't so rudimentary any more because I'd truly become a surfing zealot. However, the ocean doesn't like it when humans show hubris, and that day I got the smackdown—in the form of a fin to the face. As I was ready to go in, I made the rookie mistake of turning my back on a wave, only for it to tumble me tail-over-teakettle. Then I felt it; the slicing and sharp pain as the fin of the Wavestorm made contact with my face. I'd been hit by my board several times, but I could tell this time was different. I knew immediately that this one drew blood, and I felt with my tongue the gash that had sliced through my upper lip.