On our SUP Vets Retreat to Punta de Mita, Mexico (read within), legendary surfer turned pro surf coach Ian Cairns said something profound to me. In casual conversation, he stated that people can’t just “get over” fear. Instead, they have to replace it with something else. We were talking about surfing, but as in surfing, so in life. Kanga explained that the way to conquer one’s fear in the ocean was to develop the skill set surrounding the challenges that create anxiety. Then, we learn how to manage the situation with confidence, thus overcoming the fear.
How do you conquer fear? “You acquire the technique and skill set to put yourself in that situation and know how to manage it confidently.” - Ian Cairns
My own journey of buying and publishing Standup Journal has been one of learning to lean into the fear (of the unknown, of uncertainty, of not wanting to fail) in order to accomplish one small task every day that leads to the publication of this quarterly labor of love you hold in your hands. We can either learn through fear, or we can run from it. As a motivator or excuse, fear creeps into our daily lives and mindset. Unless we develop strategies to combat it, we run the risk of missing out on opportunities that - from afar - may look scary, but up close and in the moment are actually a matter of pulling ourselves forward one paddle stroke at a time.
The first time I paddled through Hell’s Gate on the East River here in New York as part of the SEA Paddle NYC, I remember looking up-river, taking in the swirling, boiling torrent of water in front of me and saying, “Head down. It’s one stick and pull at a time. Don’t look left. Don’t look right. Eyes right in front of you, body low and … just keep moving forward.” Stick and pull. Stick and pull. That water was gnarly (understatement!) and my fear was that if I fell off I would be somehow sucked under. One stroke at a time and with total focus I made it. And that’s how we pretty much roll to this day.
So much of this Spring Issue of Standup Journal 2.0 is about overcoming fear in order to accomplish a goal or achieve a lifelong dream. Inside these pages, you will read how Red Bull Heavy Water 2X Champion Casper Steinfath learned to override his fear of the ocean in order to become a world champion SUP racer. There is the rich telling of conquering the Mississippi River in a solo, 2,400-mile expedition told by New Yorker LouAnne Harris. You will dive deep into the importance of camaraderie and community which allows our United States military veterans to decompress and reconnect in a visual recap of the first ever SUP Vets retreat to Punta de Mita, Mexico. Listen to Pro Surfer turned Graphic Design icon David Carson on overcoming his reluctance in order to learn to fly the innovative efoil made by Lift Foils. “It was the most fun I can remember having in a long time,” he said when he could just have easily said no and decided to forgo the entire experience.
We overcome. We lean into it. We learn to love the fear as a sign we’ve reached the edge of our comfort zone and are about to embark on something new, unfamiliar and possibly risky. But, as Kanga says, when we are confident in our skill set, we see things differently. Only then are we able to meet the challenge with courage, and face fear with grit.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Standup Journal on rising above the voices in our heads that shout, “Don’t go!” Or whisper, “Be safe. Stay in familiar territory.” We hope, like us, you are inspired by these amazing people doing radical sh*t on the water and who meet a different part of themselves on the other side of fear. As on the water, so in life. We hope that you, too, can rise above and just go for it. Aloha.