Tonight, I asked Alvaro what his worst surfing injury has been to date. He told me about a time when a flying surfboard hit him right between the eyes. I’ll spare you the gory details about the effect on his face.

“It’s so important to be calm no matter what happens out there,” he added. “If a board hits you, if a shark attacks you, or if a wave throws you under, you have to stay relaxed.”

I would not look one bit like I do in this photo if a shark were chomping on my arm. But when a jellyfish floated by us on the water tonight, I did not freak out at all … even though it bore a suspicious resemblance to the one who stung me in Mexico when I was in eighth grade.

Here I am walking into my home after tonight’s lesson. Every time I emerge from the ocean, I feel pacific, a word that means “peaceful in character or intent.” How apt that it is also the name of the ocean on my home turf.

Here’s to all the airborne surfboards, hungry sharks, and violent waves of our lives. We can take ’em. Stay calm out there.

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About the Author: Katie Burke

Katie Burke
Katie Burke is an award-winning author, San Francisco attorney, journalist, and surfer. Her first book, Urban Playground: What Kids Say About Living in San Francisco, was critically acclaimed. Her next book, the forthcoming Sea Change: Women and Nonbinary People Reshaping Surfing Wave by Wave, is scheduled for publication in July 2023.

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