Life and Inspiration

How To Ride Life’s Challenges When Confronting Killer Waves

Vishnu has a large following of monks and nuns who secretly read his blog at !! He blogs about spirituality and overcoming challenges. You can follow him via Twitter.


How To Ride Life’s Challenges When Confronting Killer Waves

(and how to get kicked out of surf school)

Have you ever tried surfing?

How did you do?

The last time I tried surfing at Pacific Beach in San Diego, I was given 3 things by my surf instructor Kyle at the end of the lesson.

1) My car keys and wallet which the surf company had graciously guarded for me

2) the $120 I had paid for the class and

3) a certificate that said I could never come back to the surf school again.

I don’t get it – I’ve always thought it was the surf school’s fault. Twenty minutes after we get out in the ocean, I’m on my board trying to catch a wave. Before you know it, Kyle, the surfer dude, tries to blindside me and grabs the back of my board out of nowhere.

Genuinely frightened out of my wits when I saw his glimmering black and blue bodysuit in the ocean, I did what any rational human being attacked would have done – I yelled ‘shark’.

To keep a long story short, after the lifeguards, beach police and beach evacuation concluded, I took my money, wallet, pride and vowed never to surf again.

Waves can make life a b_____. (not beach)

Life in many ways can be a series of hard-hitting, unsuspecting waves of challenges, problems and worries. We could be swimming in the calm part of the ocean to be struck by waves that push us to places we didn’t want to go. Or waves that are unsuspecting, that bring heavy burdens and too fast for us to cope with. (Or waves that bring shark-like unsuspecting surf instructors near you)

Waves are scary, dangerous, unpredictable and with strong winds, try to wipe us out.

If life seems like a series of unpredictable and challenging waves, how do you ride the waves rippling through your life?


Failures, mistakes, bad luck, destruction, devastation, challenging life events continue to happen to us in the course of our lives. These are the things that we don’t have any control over – these wipe out waves may make you feel like you’re drowning or just not able to deal with life.

Calmness in the ocean floor.

An ocean is a fitting metaphor for life, isn’t it? Think about the depth of an ocean – it gives me a picture of calmness, serenity, peace and stability (minus the damn sharks of course). Fishes swim, plants flourish and there’s a sanctity about the depths of the ocean. It seems like nirvana can be found in the middle of the ocean – don’t you wish you could sit there and meditate (sure, in a scuba diving suit and oxygen tank) but even with all the scuba gear, it would be a divine experience.

Is your daily life like the depth of the ocean or like hard hitting waves on the shoreline?

How to deal with life’s challenges and struggles?

We can cope with life the same way we cope with waves. No, not yell ‘shark’ and get your money back. That’s how you deal with suspicious surfer dude instructors who attack you.

We have to accept that waves, big and small will come our way. We can’t control the size, frequency and dangerousness of the waves but we can control how we respond to the problems and challenges life washes over us. Life will happen to us like it or not – we have no control over that. We only can control how we respond to life.

We can chose to live life with the inner strength and calmness found in the middle of the ocean. We can use faith, awareness and understanding of the cosmic oceans to realize that even in the hard times, we can find inner peace and calmness. This takes work, patience and practice but can be done.

How do you deal with life’s problems? Scream ‘shark’, ride the wave or find the strength of the ocean floor?

~ Vishnu


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An inspirational writer, a creativity and writing trainer/coach, I write about life, gratitude, healing, wellness, relationships at Everyday Gyaan. I offer training/coaching to anyone looking to explore their creativity and heal through writing via The Frangipani Creative, located in Secunderabad, India. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for my weekly newsletter, Bytes of Gyaan, on Substack.

29 Comments on “How To Ride Life’s Challenges When Confronting Killer Waves

  1. Vishnu, 
    Awesome post! 
    “How do you deal with life’s problems? Scream ‘shark’, ride the wave or find the strength of the ocean floor?”
    Ideally, I would love to say “I am strong like the ocean floor” but that would be a lie. Though, it has been a very long time since I metaphorically screamed “shark” in real life. 
    I’d say at this point in my life I am dealing with the waves. I am getting a feel for the flow of life, trying to work with it, trying to read it, and then trying to ride it. 
    Maybe as I get older and wiser I’ll reach a point when I can honestly say I am like an ocean bottom, but for now I’m cool with learning how to ride the wave. 

    1.  @30YearOldninja thanks for dropping by Izzy.  Sorry to hear that you metaphorically scream ‘shark’ because I actually do in real life:)
      I don’t think any of us can be completely calm and peaceful like the ocean floor. Even the ocean probably has a couple shakes due to earthquakes and the such:) but we can definitely strive to be there more times than not. even when you’re learning how to ride the waves.
      the waves of life are going to be bumpy and take us for a ride of our lives every now and then. but we ourselves internally don’t have to go for the ride. We can try to keep calm when a shark or surf instructor chases us!

  2. you’re everywhere! love it.
    did that really happen with the surfer dude???
    great intro and love the way you flow into your ‘moral of the story’. 
    i always try to go with the flow of life. the only problem is that it often means i don’t assert myself with what i want and ‘waste’ time in paths that don’t suit me. but in the end it is still my journey to align me to my purpose! can turtles surf? or pandas? I hope so. 

    1.  @JanetBrent Due to the continuing investigation regarding this surf incident, I can’t really comment too much further or declare my innocence on this blog. But my lawyer will be happy to clear up the facts:)
      Life and waves don’t usually take you the way you want. Especially waves. lol They take you where they want to go but I think we can strive to make a choice about how to react to where the waves take us! You’re definitely riding the waves and aligning to your purpose.
      Yes, pandas can surf! I’m sure purple pandas can tear up the ocean floor:)

  3. Hey Vishnu,

    Never surfed,mand probably never will. Not sure I have the co-ordination.

    However metaphorical waves I have encountered many times.

    I have found some inner calm very recently, but even in the midst of that there are days when I am truly dunked by the power of the wave. Previously I would have given up on the calm, spiraled and sunk to the bottom. What I do now though is allow the wave to take me. Accept it is there and try not to fight it. We naturally float to the top when we aren’t using our energy to fight with it, so by surrendering instead, the wave brings me back to the calm.

    This realisation has made my metaphorical surfing less painful. It also changes my expectations about a permanently calm ocean. The thing about waves is you don’t know when they will come or how strong they will be. The only thing for certain is that there will always be waves 🙂

    I now choose to let myself be carried.

    On a side note, I really need to work on becoming more succinct. Let’s call it a work in progress 🙂


    1.  @Keith Clarke Keith, I think I was done after my first surfing lesson. I was done with the waves in the ocean but definitely don’t have a choice about the waves of life:)
      I like the concept of trying not to fight the wave of life and riding the wave instead – or surrendering like you say. Yeah, the ocean may be calm at it’s deepest points but there are plenty of waves on the shore or when there’s a violent storm. Expecting and embracing the waves is the best way to survive. Which takes me back to my point in the post – we can’t do anything about the waves at all. the only power we really have is to react to the waves. Surrender to the ocean! But not to surfing instructors – those guys you must challenge and fight on! 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  4. Wow! wonderful post.
    How do I ride the waves?
    Scream ‘ shark’, then, ride the wave and if I am not scared out of my wits, try to find the strength to go on.

    1.  @Janaki Nagaraj thanks for your comment and feedback. It’s always a good idea to scream ‘shark’ but please do so at your own caution when at a diving school, surfing or swimming program. For some reason, those instructors don’t seem amused, from my experience:)
      Embracing the wave will give us strength to go on. If we fight it, we tend to get thrown off the surf board pretty badly! Embracing the wave, or surrendering to the waves of life as @Keith Clarke  points out below, is a helpful tactic.Happy surfing!

  5. The biggest one is prayer. When I give my problems to the one who made me, who knows all things, I feel so much better and it puts everything in correct perspective.

    1.  @Elizabeth Young oh yeah, i was doing a lot of praying all right when i was taking surf lessons and even more so when i thought a shark was attacking me!
      But i completely agree with you – giving our problems or life’s waves to a higher power, God, is one good way to find calmness and peace during stormy times in our lives. Thanks for your comment!

  6. I initially scream shark, but after it’s sunk in I dissect the situation and try to figure out how to fix it or how to deal with it so my life can be more like the ocean floor.  Never easy!

    1.  @femmefrugality hello femme – lol – hopefully you scream shark only after you realize it is in fact a  shark and not a false alarm. We are all allowed to get scared and nervous and even fall off our surfboards for a minute but we can regroup and then make it to calmer waters. Remaining calm like the ocean floor is a journey all right!

  7. I completely get this analogy because I am terrified of sharks!  About life’s challenges, though, I have learned to not be so quick to label them, or judge them.  So many things I thought were terrible events turned out to be blessings.  So now I try to sit with it and wait, to pay attention, to be curious, to keep my heart open.  Can I do it all the time?  No, especially when I’m surprised, like you were by seeing something that your brain quickly labeled as a shark.  But most of the time, when I can take a deep breath, I can see that I’m “creating” the shark by the story I’m telling myself.  Great post, and very funny story!

    1.  @galenpearl Galen – not only sharks, but if I’m terrified of surf instructors too:) I know what you mean by labeling life events too soon. I mean it really could have been a shark but maybe 10 years later,you realize it was a large delicious salmon that you could have barbequed up for dinner. Kidding! We shouldn’t label life’s challenges ’til we understand their lessons and meaning. 
      I think we all regularly see ‘sharks’ in our lives but if we can take a breath and see things for what they are, we’ll realize it’s a tiny friendly minnow. Thanks for commenting and your kind words:)

  8. I agree to you completely when you say an ocean is a perfect metaphor for life. I can completely relate to your school of thoughts as I always believe life has its own ups and downs and as you said we really need to learn how to ride the waves and enjoy it too 🙂

    1.  @privytrifles i’m glad you like the analogy. I wish I could be the ocean floor when life’s sometimes like that violent storm on the shore. As long as there’s no tsunami or moody surfing instructors, riding the waves of life can be enjoyable. thanks for your comment.

  9. What a lovely analogy..about life. For me, I sometimes do scream ‘Shark’  but at other times I am peaceful and serene like the ocean floor or rising the wave. I do want to learn to be calm but when things get overwhelming I do panic…

    1. i’m glad you enjoyed the analogy. We all panic when the shark bites the surf board:) but after screaming shark, breathing a couple minutes and turning around to see it’s not the shark but the surfing dude, we can take a calmer approach to solving the problem.

  10. Well, I’d like to think I sit at the bottom of the ocean, which is easy to do when the waters are calm.  But when there’s a sharp wave, I tend to panic, get nervous, scarred and forget a about the fact that the tide will change.  
    Really enjoyed reading this.  I like the humor because it’s always good to laugh a little.

    1. @Myrna thanks for your comments. If you do sit at the bottom of the ocean, do take scuba gear! I’m glad you enjoyed the humor but it wasn’t funny when I thought I was being attacked by a shark! 🙂

  11. I think I am a droplet of water that sometimes crashes in the waves and other times finds myself closer to the ocean floor. Being a Mom, I have screamed before 😉 Especially to keep my kids away from something I think is gross. Beautiful post, Vishnu!

    1.  Wendy_Irene  I didn’t think of that Wendy! Of us as the droplet of water:) I think that can only make my analogy stronger. 
      When you’re a Mom – you do have to scream ‘shark’ especially when there is one lurking nearby. Or even a dolphin for that matter. And to keep the kids away from danger and grossness. But I know from reading your blog, those moment happen less and less often:) Thanks for dropping by!

  12. Hi Vishnu,
    My good friend who is a psychologist says “grab onto the handles of the dinghy and HOLD ON!” and that’s how I handle the waves. Though if there are sharks in the water, I think I’m make for the shore pretty quick!  I think I like best how you said, “We can chose…” We forget that we can choose how to respond at times like that. This post is a lovely reminder 🙂

    1.  @Lori Get the heck out of the water and to shore sounds like a plan to me when. But that swim back can be tumultuous and anxiety-filled (and the swim back may take forever with prolonged challenges of life’s events) The question is how do we make the journey back to shore – terrified and scared out of our wits or with peace of the ocean’s depth. How we make that swim back is definitely a choice! Glad you enjoyed the post and for your comment:)

  13. I am afraid of real waves ~ I fear being drowned. It could also be said of life challenges. I do not face the waves by surfing. If I have other ways, I’d use them. Sometimes, I’d postpone til the sea becomes more calm.
    I do believe that the waves are just on the surface…but deep within is peace. I’m not saying I have reached full understanding of this. My SD says it takes practice. 
    Oh well. Thanks for sharing this BS 🙂

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