Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Quest for New-ness #5

When I first started this blog, I was really intent on my Quest for New-ness. On my website, my New Thing label has 84 posts, more than any other. I described it this way:

If I don’t want to get stale in my Third Third, I need newness. I need jolts and shake-ups. Actually, my whole life has been about wanting and liking jolts and shake-ups, but the difference is that now I feel I need them to ward off any encroaching stagnation.

And that was even before the relentless staleness of Covid-19.

So here I am after days weeks months of same-old-same-old. But then we got vaccinated and Tim announced, “Off to Maui!” which jolted me so badly I had to hide for a while. But I emerged, boarded the plane, and traded Alaska snow and cold for Maui sun and heat.

This is the thing about sun and heat: you can lie down in it, you walk around in shorts and tank tops in it, you put sunscreen on in it. You maybe stay indoors during the hottest part of it, but mostly you are breathing air-that-has-not-been-in-four-walls – outside air! You do that for most of the day. It’s kind of miraculous.

But you still have to eat, you still have to acquire food and do something with it – cook it or order it or look at a menu about it. You still have to take showers and wash your hair. You still have to brush your teeth. You still have to put dirty clothes in the dirty-laundry bag.

You still have to wake up and go to sleep. You still have to decide what you’re going to do today: hike or beach or pool? You still have to get in a car that you’ll drive to wherever you might want to sightsee. The car will still need gas. If you read a book, you still have to open it and turn the pages.

Do you see where I’m going here? Most of our days repeat most of our days no matter where we are. And if you’re suffering from too much routine and the psychologists report an emotional state of “languishing,” then you just might not be getting the New-ness your spirit requires.

I grew up on Long Island, so I grew up on water. Beaches and pools. During those sticky, humid days, water was our sanity, our pleasure, and our thrill. I would body surf till my scalp was covered in sand, till I carried loads of sand in my swimsuit. The town pool was daily until my friends got driver’s licenses, then the beach became a daily after work option. I am better in water than on land.

And on Maui, the water is delightful. You can swim in it and play around in it, but it’s very shallow. The thing you can’t do is body surf in it. You just can’t grab a wave and let it take your body over a four-inch surf. That must be why everyone is holding a boogie board, which I don’t quite get: is it like a toy? A baby surfboard?

One of the new things on this trip was staying in a condo. We’d never done that. In this condo was a supply closet with beach chairs and beach mats, umbrellas and towels, flippers and wet suits. And boogie boards. It was like a personal summertime R.E.I.

So we took the boogie boards to the beach. Let me tell you about boogie boarding!

I stood out there, holding the board in front of me. I know my waves; I picked a good one at the right time, threw myself forward on the board.

And I flew!       I was a bullet, flying through the water or the air or whatever it was! 

I was on top of the whole world 

until the wave disappeared below me and dropped me down – free fall! – to the next wave which caught me and took me to shore

where the next wave positively drove me up the beach on two inches of water and sand.

Aaaiiieeee! It was incredible!

When the water went out, the board was buried in sand and I had to dig it out.

I woke up.

That’s it: my fog lifted and light emerged. It wasn’t the adrenaline rush of risk (I gave up terror after the Chilkoot Trail), and no fear was involved in this at all: we’re talking shallow shore breaks. It was the sheer delight of New-ness. A brand-new experience had entered my life, charged new neurons, ignored the same-old-same-old.

Finally, an 85th New Thing!


  1. Your wonderful description makes me want to try boogie boarding. Maybe I'm not too old to try it.

  2. What an absolutely joyous time you had! Thank you for sharing your adventures.


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