“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” ~African Proverb
On a Tuesday morning, it is already past ten.
In the hot South Indian sun, my wet board shorts and blue tank are drying quickly.
After my session surfing in the beautiful, warm Arabian Sea, I feel alive and exhilarated.
Surfing waves consistently has been my goal for the past two years, and I’m doing it. It’s amazing, considering the fact that I didn’t think I would ever again surf.
The trauma and fear from a surfing accident ten years ago, that nearly knocked my teeth out, was still lodged in my body for years, and my life’s focus had shifted from sports to yoga.
In Kerala, India I wanted to study intensively with Ashtanga yoga for ten more weeks before returning to Rishikesh (North India), where I was based.
Through a chance invitation, I was invited to visit the coast town that has been my home for more than two years due to the pandemic.
Good surf is a given.
Reentry to surfing was slow but steady.
My fiftieth Birthday present was ten lessons in surfing.
To get back to surfing, I felt like a beginner so I took some lessons.
An Indian man in his mid-thirties who was in my surf class asked, “How old are you?”
“Fifty,” I replied.
“I hope I am still surfing at your age,” he said back.
He may have intended this to be a compliment. I, however, took the comment self-consciously and wondered how it was relevant.
Now, it is two years later.
From a novice surfer to an intermediate one, it has been a gradual progression.
As I sipped a hot chai out of a dixie cup on the side of a busy fishing village road, after my morning surf, an older Indian gentleman with grey hair asked me, “What is your age?”
“Fifty-two,” I replied.
His jaw dropped and he said, “I thought you were seventy. You have really bad skin.”
This really did happen.
It has been repeated more times than once.
Every time it’s happened, I have allowed it to knock the wind out of my sails.
It’s amazing to me that my appearance is so different from when I was twenty one.
My skin is not blessed with good genes. Combining my love for the sun, and the fact that I spend most of my time outside, has led to me looking like an alligator.
I used to lie about my age until my late forties.
A woman asked my age about me on my forty-sixth birthday. She laughed at me and asked if she was sixty.
This chaiguy encounter inspired me to lie.
How about telling the men that I’m eighty-five years old?My Mahindra scooter was being driven from the Chai Shop. This made me smile instantly and felt empowered.
Instead of being ashamed of my skin I chose to give it back to them.
It doesn’t matter what you or I think of my appearance. I don’t care about it.
It doesn’t matter to me because inside I feel amazing.
I practice the whole of Ashtanga yoga’s challenging intermediate series six days a week, which is something I never in my wildest dreams thought would be possible in my forties, and I surf every day.
The young twenty-something Indian surf guys are now giving me fist pumps and saying, “You are really surfing and catching some big waves now!”
They stopped asking my age.
This story made me think: How can we age without being allowed?
How embarrassing is having skin that looks old?
Why can’t I have wrinkles and grey hair and own it?
It is the job of the body to do this.
It is a living thing.
Also, we are not supposed to be our own age. In my case, even more!
I am taking a stand to change the tides.
My age, my position in the surfline and truth are my claims.
You are permitted to age.
Polly Green is the founder of Other Side Channelling Academy, a signature spiritual coaching program that supports driven, adventurous mid-life women as they move from self-sabotage into sobriety, unconditional self-love, and radical self-acceptance so that they can feel worthy and whole within themselves, and confident in speaking their truth. Download her FREE guide 10 Steps towards Radical Self-Acceptance. You can join her YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and website trainings for free.
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