The universe can work in not so subtle ways. Just when you think you have your life totally under control, you’re smoking busy and completely kickin’ ass, the universe intervenes and goes WHAM! Why? Because the universe wants us to fulfill our life purpose, not complete our never ending “To Do” list. Control is an illusion; the truth is we are barely keeping up in our increasingly fast paced lives, just existing and completing impossible lists of tasks. Is this truly living life to its fullest?
In the past when I have been wrapped up in just existing and my own never ending “To Do” lists is when the universe decides to kick me in the head . . . literally. (Full disclosure: I am an Aries and we are notorious for hitting our heads.) I have learned (after hitting my head a lot) not to ignore the subtle hints from the universe that are trying to tell me to slow down. The hints start subtly like running out of gas (that’s always a good one and seriously inconvenient) or tripping over that non-existent stump and hitting the ground at full speed (that one usually hurts). When I have ignored those hints, they increase and then I get really CLOBBERED (it is no wonder I have had so many concussions!).The universe doesn’t like to be ignored so when you don’t listen, it will make arrangements for you to STOP. That way you are forced to listen; you physically can’t feel your life with distractions.
Well a few days ago, after being on fire for three months and seriously rockin’ my life filled with distractions and my “To Do” list, I got my ass handed to me on a platter by the universe. Yup, I had done it again, ignoring the first subtle warning of almost running out of gas and then the second of wiping out coming down the stairs. I still have the bruise on my ass from that one. After paddling in from a long overdue stellar surf session and feeling great, the universe slammed me. Wham! One foot from shore I stepped down onto a rock full of sea urchins. (Ironically this particular urchin-covered rock was in an area that I paddle in and out over regularly and I have never seen urchins there before.) My golden rule is to never step down unless I absolutely have to. But, yesterday to avoid possible damage to my fin, I did. So the universe took me out. Boom! Instantaneous mind-blasting pain. I dove onto my board and crawled to shore. Once I hit the sand I checked out the bottom of my foot and thought, shit! Fighting back tears, I did what any tough-assed surf girl would do: I pulled as many spines out of my foot as I could (approximately six) and then hobbled back through the jungle and went for tacos and margaritas with my surf sisters.Having experienced urchins many times in the past, I asked the waiter for a bowl of very hot water and filled it with my disinfecting gel (an essential in my surf bag) and stuck my already swelling foot into the hot water. That pain was directly followed by a big chug of my margarita. My surf sisters assessed my infected foot and determined that the rest of the urchins needed to come out so some tequila and serious picking were in order. An hour later I am biting down on a wine cork in between shots of tequila, watching my foot turn into a red swollen ball as my girlfriends pick away at the black spines buried under the skin. Finally my surf sister (who is the toughest of tough) states, “There is no way in hell we are gonna get these suckers out, they are way too deep!” We decided to go to the clinic and get the doctor to lance my foot. On the way to the clinic the jabs and jokes increase with statements such as, “Marjie, that’s the first time ever that going deep is not a good thing” and “I guess it’s not all about the length, it’s the thickness.” Thank God the tequila was kickin’ in, for everyone!
We arrive at the Mexican medical clinic margaritas in hand, and quickly receive service by a very handsome mid-30s doctor wearing fabulous Lacoste leather loafers. I love a well-dressed good looking doctor who doesn’t even bat an eye when three salty, giggling surf girls walk in with margaritas in hand. Everything was great until he stuck the 4-inch Linocaine needle into the bottom of my swollen foot. My giggling was replaced with screaming and swearing – thank God for the wine cork I was biting down on! Once my foot was frozen the picking began, which incidentally, one surf sister really enjoyed because she is a biology nut and was seriously getting her flirt on with the well-dressed doctor. I blissfully kept sipping my margarita while watching the black thick barbs be removed from my foot and not feeling a freakin’ thing! Then all of sudden he dug too deep and I almost kicked him in the head.
It couldn’t be, noooo . . . the last few urchins were way too deep to extract without more Linocaine, which meant another needle. My eyes bugged out of my head and the sweat starting dripping from my temples. The second needle was loaded, the cork went in my mouth, and my surf sisters held down my leg.
I screamed, cursed and spilled my margarita. Once the pain subsided, the only comment that came out of my mouth was, “I better be frozen from my foot to my vagina after that needle!” My surf sisters erupted into fits of laughter but Dr. Well-Dressed was shocked and not sure how to respond to that comment, but I did see him snicker behind his mask. Moments later, out came the last remaining 3-inch barb buried deep in the ball of my foot. I was bandaged up and 300 pesos later (approximately $25 U.S.), I hobbled out still sipping the last little bit of my margarita! Only in Mexico can you go to a great medical clinic, drink a margarita, have a hot well-dressed doctor stick you with drugs and only pay $25! (Shhh… don’t tell anyone! People may realize that what we pay for and the service we get in North American hospitals and clinics totally sucks!) I actually think we got a deal because Dr. Well-Dressed thought we were hilarious and my girlfriend, who is seriously hot, was flirting with him!
But in all seriousness, even though this story ended up freakin’ hilarious (mainly because my girlfriends are a total riot), the fact is, the universe was warning me to slow down and I didn’t, so it forced me to physically STOP! And trust me, after two needles, 15 urchins and several margaritas, the past few days have been pretty rough! But I was forced to stop and sit for the first time in three months.
The universe dictated that I sit so now I do! I sit in my hammock with ice on my foot and look at the new moon and its tiny glowing sliver of iridescent light. Interestingly, I am not suffering from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) because I am not at the party. I am just content. Content to reflect on the past few months. I am content to be grateful for all the love that has come my way, grateful to be sad for the losses of loved ones, grateful for loving what I do and so incredible grateful for the return of my surf stoke. Urchins are part of Mother Ocean; they will always be there and odds are good this will happen again to remind me to STOP! The waves I caught a few days ago will never happen again; the laughter and experience with my surf sisters is irreplaceable and my moment of reflection in this hammock at this moment is bliss. However, have I learned to listen to the universe’s warning signs? I seriously hope so!
Surf Tip #1: Don’t step down unless you absolutely have to! Keep feet and toes tucked in tight. Always fall flat. If you get hit by urchins, soak the area in very hot water and vinegar and get them out as fast as possible. Tequila is helpful at this point! If you start to swell you are reacting to the poison so hightail it to the doctor ASAP or take an antihistamine. Usually you cannot get all the barbs out, but after a few days they will calm down and usually work their uncomfortable way to the surface as just another little reminder to slow down. The universe and Mother Nature work in mysterious ways.