I had not long moved to Melbourne and I decided to explore the Surf Coast west of the city. I drove through Geelong and then on to Torquay, stopping for coffee, lunch and a bit of shopping. My final destination was Bell’s Beach – the famed big surf beach, home to world class surfing competitions. I am not a surfer – body surfing, yes, board riding, no – but I love watching surfers interact with the waves and skilfully do something I cannot do. I went down the long flight of wooden steps to the beach – not really a beach but more of a rocky foreshore – and found a dry rock to sit on. The day was cold, and the sky overcast, but that did not deter the wet-suited surfers from making the most of the available waves. I expected to enjoy myself but I found that as I was embracing the present surprises came my way.
Embracing the present is a choice
My faith or world view perspective is that of acknowledging a presence bigger than my own, which I call God. As I sat down, I was very aware of my connection both with what was going on in front of me and around me and I also wanted to touch base with the Divine. So, I said to God, “If you want to talk to me or show me something, I’m open and listening. But if you just want me to be here with you, I’m really OK with that.” So, I found my rock and watched.
I watched the surfers paddle out and sit astride their boards or lay full length as they too watched and waited. I watched as they caught a wave, black-clad bodies lithely springing up and swaying and dancing on the board as they manoeuvred it to make full use of each wave. I watched as more surfers arrived, stretching long limbs in readiness for the waves, picking their way carefully over the rocky foreshore before sliding effortlessly onto their boards to paddle with long strokes out to their compatriots.
They had made a choice on this grey day of embracing the present, be present to the pull and tug of the waves, and the vagaries of the weather. I had made a choice to sit, to watch and to wait.
A surprise and an answer
I watched too as a red cattle dog trotted back and forth at the waves’ edge, looking out at the riders. His master must be among the surfers, I surmised. And, after a while, the dog saw me too. Over a period of about ten minutes, with no encouragement on my part, this red cattle dog gradually came closer and closer to the rock on which I was sitting. He circled the rock a few times before coming slowly to stand beside where I was sitting, as we both looked out to sea.
I did not touch him or talk to him. I just watched and waited. Gradually, he sat down beside me, then he lay down beside me and finally he lay his head on my feet. We sat together, like that, for another 15 minutes or so. I resisted the urge to pat or stroke him – after all, he was an unfamiliar dog. But I was able to see the name written on his tag, Enzo, Prince of Darkness.
I knew I had the answer to my question of God – in the just sitting, in the being present, I had the opportunity to experience the Divine through this dog. We were one and connected for this short space of time, for this moment in time. We were both, woman and dog, embracing the present.
What other surprises await in the moment?
I didn’t know that this would be the surprise awaiting me when I made an intentional choice to embrace the moment on the cold August day at Bell’s Beach. And I think that is just the point.
Embracing the present opens us up to unthought-of surprises, unanticipated events and occurrences that stay with us forever. I know I will never forget that day at Bell’s Beach and each time I recount this story I am taken back to the day, to what I experienced and how I felt as Enzo chose to join me, chose to share his present with me.
Not every time I embrace the present am I gifted with a wonderful surprise such as this. But if I don’t choose to be in the moment, then I will never be gifted with such moments or if I am, I will not notice them, or they will pass unappreciated.
What about you? Do you have an “in the moment” surprise that you would like to share? I’d love to hear what it is so please add it in the comments below. We can encourage each other to make choices each day, to be in the moment, and to embrace the present, and see what surprises await us.