September 25, 2012 § 22 Comments

I grew up with the surf and ocean as part of my life.  My mother used to say that the first day of each summer season, I would always run screaming directly into the surf- full sprint- undiluted joy.  I still feel that way about the ocean.

In my adult life, it is my sanctuary.  A place of peace, a spiritual place.

I now understand that the ocean is also a great teacher.

When you are trying to paddle out against a strong surf, you soon discover that you can’t just bust through the big waves.  You must learn to maneuver yourself and your board to create the least possible resistance to the wave and allow it to wash over you.  Even the strongest surfer cannot bend the wave to his will.

And when the surf presents itself like a roiling cauldron, as on the eve of a great storm, and you go out without the board, you must give yourself over to the surf.  You swim and struggle to get out but once in the midst of the raging surf, you’re best off just letting go.  Letting the crashing and ricocheting waves bounce you around, push you under, and have their way.

The ocean is a mighty thing.  When it rises up, resistance gets you nowhere.  But letting go, accepting its power, can bring moments of great bliss.

This is true in life- everywhere, always.  We do not achieve our moments of transcendent bliss by wrenching them out of the cauldron of our busy lives.  Effort, thrashing about, resistance- not the path.  Those blissful moments come to us only when we are open to the wonder and energy that surrounds us.

So I try to live the lesson the surf has taught me.

It’s effortless.

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§ 22 Responses to Effortless

  • sandybeachsf says:

    Your lovely words really strike a chord. I too am enthralled by the sea. I don’t remember the first moment I saw it. Like my mother it was just always there, embracing me. And at times shaking me up. The Atlantic Ocean raised me, and now the Pacific Ocean keeps me company.

    Thanks so much for sharing your way of viewing the world, and the human experience, Tom. You have a really easy way about your words, something I aspire to tap into. You seem to pack so much meaning into so few letters.

  • Julianna says:

    Stopping by this morning to see if you’d posted something recently that I missed (not the case). But just seeing this now, and loving it. All of it, but this line struck me today, as I continue to learn to let go of the Doing (why do we learn this lesson so many times and still need to relearn it?): “Effort, thrashing about, resistance- not the path.” – Thank you for this reminder!

  • l0ve0utl0ud says:

    That’s a nice lesson. The hardest thing is learning when to go with the flow and when to give something all our energy.

  • Dear Tom, I love the element of water and the place I always seek out to rest and breathe is a little beach I discovered close to my home. This post resonates with why I too find a refuge in the ocean. I actually just posted my Secret Beach on the blog. I believe there is a special truth in learning from the sea. Sharon

  • I connect your thoughts about the ocean with my favorite part of the Serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Often I fight way too hard against things I cannot control. Nice reminder that sometimes it’s okay to let go!

  • julienmatei says:

    Allow me to paraphrase you:

    LIFE is a mighty thing. When it rises up, resistance gets you nowhere. But letting go, accepting its power, can bring moments of great bliss.

    Great post !

  • SprinklinThoughts says:

    Yeah, ride (not fight) the wave of life… but often people forget that to ride that wave, you have to keep your board in good shape & properly waxed…
    …just a thought

  • Anne says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful post Tom. So true in life….



    • phlyfitmama says:

      Tom – I SO agree with you. I think of body surfing…when I was small. Letting the waves take me where they may. Sometimes it was further out and a bit scary…but when I trusted, I landed softly back on the sand. How the ocean echos life and our relationship with it, is awesome. You ROCK! Love this piece. xo Heather

    • Thomas Ross says:


      Thanks for the faithful attention to my writing. So kind.


  • Gigi wanders says:

    I love this one, Tom!
    Probably because growing up in Fiji, the big blue was my first true love.

    The ocean features in RUMINATIONS also, and I’m sure you’ll appreciate it:


    my solace
    my spirit
    my soul

    my playground,
    the ocean.

    30 July, 2007

  • Thank you Tom…and the tremendous relief and release that comes fro letting go, when we are in that space, is almost beyond description.

  • brendamarroy says:

    Great message, Tom. Thank you for sharing your life lessons.

  • a beautifully written piece, Tom. Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to just let go…

  • How true. Letting go offers more sometimes then railing against life struggles. The railing part is exhausting, rarely offering up any relief. But we do it anyway. Today I am letting go and there was am instant sense of peace. I should do this more often… 🙂

    • Thomas Ross says:

      “Letting go”- acceptance, ending resistance- odd how it take great strength to do what seems the “passive” thing. But it isn’t passive, it’s strongly choosing to be in the present.

      Susan, I have come to appreciate so much your constant responses to this work. I feel as though we are in a community of writers, supportive and kind.

      Thanks you.


    • Thomas Ross says:


      It’s an amazing thing. “Riding with the tide” is actually a source of great energy. Not weak and passive- strong and confident.

      It’s so good to come back to my posts and find these kind, thoughtful responses. Thank you so much.


  • The sea change you mentioned? This is a wonderful post…thank you.
    Speaks to me so much – the sea, the blissful moments, the energy..effortless it may be but I am so impatient !

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