Today I attempted to paddle out at Ocean Beach. Notice that I said attempted. It wasn't a particularly gnarly day either but ultimately it is still Ocean Beach. If you aren't familiar with Ocean Beach it is located on the west side of San Francisco.
The water at Ocean Beach is noteworthy for its strong currents and waves, which makes it popular among serious surfers. The water is cold, due in part to a process known as upwelling, in which frigid water from below the ocean surface rises to replace the surface water that moves away from the beach as a result of the Coriolis effect. The rapid rip currents and cold water make the ocean dangerous for casual swimmers and even those who simply want to set foot in it, and swimmers have been swept away and drowned. Nevertheless, the beach is one of the Bay Area's top surfing spots." - From Wikipedia
So essentially it's a bitch to surf for anyone that isn't already great. It isn't the place you want to try to learn to surf. I've only been able to actually get to the outside a couple of times. Most times I fail, but I try to go out in the hopes that I will get outside and maybe that I will even catch a wave. I'm a big believer that surfing can teach you lots of little life lessons. Today when I decided to throw in the towel I was annoyed that I didn't actually get to really surf. I slogged my way back to the beach and sat down for a moment and watched enviously as plenty of other surfers made their way outside. Then I was reminded that there was a time not too long ago that I wouldn't have even tried to paddle out at Ocean Beach. Then I thought about how a goal always seems monumental when you see it from far away. It's almost paralyzing to think about the effort required to achieve it. However, Rome wasn't built in a day ... big progress is a collection of all the smaller moments of progress along the way; learning to pop-up, learning to stay out of peoples way, learning that there are traffic laws while surfing, learning to get tossed, learning to get smacked by your board... each of these is a moment of progress no matter how it sucks.
The same is true of creative work. There is the place we want to be (out in the line up with the rest of the good surfers) and there is the place that we are (still struggling to find the channel to get to the outside). We know we have the skills, we know we have the basics down but it takes time and dedication to get better. Paddle, Paddle,and Paddle some more and just when you think your done paddle a little bit more. Do a little everyday and you will get closer to your goals.