Before I was married and had children, I lived at the beach and liked to surf. I’d jump on a board and paddle out into the ocean. It was so peaceful off the shore. I would often sit on my board and enjoy the solitude before surfing in.

Surfing is exhilarating. When you catch a wave and ride it in, you feel like you can do anything.

I would have days when I would just rule at surfing. I’d catch most waves, and I’d ride that high for weeks.

And then I’d have the bad days. I couldn’t catch a wave. I’d get one, only to lose my balance and fall off my board. But I’d keep trying.

And then there was the worst day. The water was cold, the waves were big and unforgiving. They rolled in sets of three, and I could see them coming, bigger and bigger. The only way to get to the beach was to ride a wave in, knowing that I was out of my skill level and there was a 100% chance I’d be chewed up.

I caught a wave, and tried to ride it in. The water broke messy and pounded around me. My board flew out from under me, and I was thrown in the water. I wasn’t smart enough to take the third wave in the set, so just when I’d found the surface another wave would pound me back under. And my mind briefly flashed, “what if I don’t get out of this?”

Eventually I made it to the shore after being dragged along the bottom of the ocean, coughing and choking on sand and sea water. I curled up into a ball and swore I’d never do it again. I went home and stayed inside, but I’d look longingly at the other surfers. The ones that hadn’t been through a horrible wipeout. The ones that had never swallowed a gallon of seawater.

Eventually the ache in my throat and belly subsided. My sand burns went away. I started to feel better, and I went back to the beach. Not the same. Much more cautious. Afraid of getting pulled under for good.

There are some big, messy waves coming at me. I can see them on the horizon. I am preparing to be battered. But every now and then the ocean gets control and a rogue wave comes and knocks me off my feet, pulling me under, down, and I don’t know how I’ll get back to the surface.