You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf…

I found out last week that I have pneumonia. I swam a week ago Sunday and felt pretty good, went to work on Monday and came home two hours early because I had the chills, and then managed to sleep for about twelve hours hoping to beat whatever I had. I was concerned as the BC Provincials Masters swim meet started that Friday. I went to my doctor and found out the bad news. When I asked if I could swim a 1500-meter free on Friday night he gave me that look – not a big fan of that look.  He said…”Rod not to long ago people with pneumonia had a 50% chance of living even at the best hospitals”.

We all deal with things in a different ways and I definitely did not want to fall into the poor me’s… “Pour me another drink”. I quickly took inventory, calculated the days before the Channel and had something to eat – if I can’t swim I will train in other ways!

Below are some of the quotes that help me surf the waves…

“What we do does not define who we are, what defines us is how we rise after falling”    -Unknown

“The Best Part is the Hard Part”   -Fred Coogan, Austin, TX

“All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dream with open eyes to make it possible”.   T.E. Lawrence

H2O: two parts Heart and one part Obsession

Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft might win, By fearing to attempt. – William Shakespeare.

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”. – William Greenough Thayer Shedd

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out when the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.  So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”     -Teddy Roosevelt

A month before my first cold water qualifying swim I had a conversation with a friend of mine. I was talking about the Channel and confessing my doubts about cold water. He let me rant on for about ten minutes without saying a word. When I finished there was a long pause and he said, “You know Rod…if a Samurai Warrior goes to battle with any doubt, he will die”. After another long pause, I thought…wow, bit dramatic, but there is a lesson here…

“Those who are reluctant to give up their lives and embrace death are not true warriors…Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory, and you will come home with no wounds whatever. Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will be alive: wish to survive in the battle and you surely meet death. When you leave the house determined not to see it again you will come home safely: when you have any thought of returning you will not return. You may not be in the wrong to think that the world is always subject to change, but the warrior must not entertain this way of thinking, for his fate is always determined.”     – Samurai Warrior

When we leave for Dover on the 9th of July, suitcase in hand, I will look back at our house determined never to return…

6 responses to “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf…

  1. I remember the first time I gave birth to my daughter Melanie. I was 19 years old and I had just watched a film on childbirth. Afterwards I was so scared I approached my doctor at my next appoinment and told her that I didn’t think I could do it! Sorry I made a mistake and now I wat to stop. So maybe I could be given something to go to sleep and I could wake up with a baby…and without all the pain and screaming and mess. I remember the look on her face was…sorry you’re here now, it’s too late. This is what the last nine months were about. You have to do this. There is no going back. After I shook my head and left and 2 days later I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. She was “HUGE” …over ten pounds. The pain was unbeleivably hard and I was terrified. But afterwards I held my child and I knew I could do it again if I had to. I have 3 more children and it always was painful and difficult. But I am so glad that I did it. You will to Rod. This is your baby. And there is so much time invested in training and sacrifices that have been made, you must do this. Setbacks and all! Love ya bud! Sue

  2. Rod,

    Great post. It hurts to watch the warrior suffer but I understand the fight a lot better now!


  3. great post Rod, fear turns into faith, doubt into certainty.
    In taking photos of skateboarding, I see this internal battle all the time, I still remember telling me who Natas was when I was a little kid, probably played a part in me becoming a skateboarder….
    um abraço
    dhani b

  4. hi rod yer grate

  5. Dolly Braithwaite Abney

    When I heard you were swimming the English Channel I had to send you my best wishes. In 1998 I stood on the shore of Okanagan Lake as the gun went off for the start of the Ironman Canada Triathlon 3.8km swim,180 km bike and a 42km run. I turned to my husband and said, “I want to do this race”…the following year I crossed the finish line with my 3 kids beside me. There were those that told me I was crazy, but there were those who believed in me and and made me believe in myself, and never asked why.( If they have to ask why, they will never understand). I felt that I was the luckiest person in the world out on that race course. I was healthy enough to race, I had the love and support of family and friends, and I live on the Ironman Canada Race Course. I was so excited for you when I heard you were swimming the English Channel. You will be in our hearts. Draw your strength from those who love you, there are many.

  6. Pat Gjerdalen


    I am so proud of you, always have been but now even more. you have been part of our family since you joined the swim club, where even then I knew you were a star.
    GO FOR IT MAN, I will be thinking of you.
    Love ya Pat xx

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