As I pulled through the final wave and paddled beyond the break, I turned around to see where my young fella Tim was. He was nowhere to be seen. Turning my gaze to the shoreline I expected to see him playing in the whitewater closer to shore, but he wasn’t there.

Initially I was confused, but now I was gripped with fear. A fun day surfing Rainbow Bay, with a small swell had now turned serious. Even though he had only just started surfing, I didn’t foresee any issues, I expected that we would be sitting out the back together and catching waves. Instead, I’ve become frantic.

The plan was for Tim to follow me out the back. The surf was gentle and my son was nowhere to be seen. This was not a Father of the Year moment.

I paddled in quickly and looked around. Looking north towards Snapper Rocks, I saw hundreds of surfers and people lazing on the beach, but no Tim. I looked out to sea again hoping for a miracle, but none was forthcoming. Fear became panic. I looked south towards Greenmount Point, and initial indicators were not good. A steady stream of surfers walking around the sandy point so I instinctively started walking towards them. Finally, I saw him. Relieved, I started breathing again. In amongst the surfers, there he was. Colourful boardshorts, board tucked under his arm and a brave look on his face, trudging his way back to Rainbow Bay. I rushed towards him and the feeling of relief was immense.

“What happened, mate?”

“I don’t know, Dad. I started behind you, and paddled through some waves and fell off. When I got back on my board, I couldn’t see you, so I just kept paddling out but the more I paddled, the more I got dragged down the beach. I ended up at Greenmount (the next beach north) and that’s when I was able to get back into shore and started walking back.”

I was so glad that he was ok. I’ve had feelings of relief many times in my life, but I am pretty sure the relief I felt that day was top 5. We walked back together to the spot we originally paddled out from, and caught a few waves in the shore break before calling it a day. I had to get Tim back in the water. Despite the brave face, his confidence was down and we had to end the day positively.

That was the day, I lost my son. I was forever grateful that he was smart enough to work out what had happened. He realised he had lost control of where he was, and made the decision to get back to the place he knew, the beach. Once safe, he was able to take the steps needed to get back to where he needed to be. He made it back to me.
We both learned lessons that day.

Our Lessons for Life.

Tim had got caught up in a sweep and in doing so, lost all control of where he was heading. He knew where he wanted to go, even had a role model guiding the way, but the current took him away. He had no choice, but to go with the flow until he was able to remove himself and get to safety.

He went with the flow, just like so many of us. We get caught up, we go with the flow and we lose control of where we head.

It may be a new relationship that rears up. Someone that we work with, or associate with starts giving us some extra attention. Particularly difficult if you are already in a relationship. Maybe it’s missing some love and companionship, and that extra attention makes us feel good. We go with the flow, figure what’s the harm and flirt back. Until we lose control. That’s when the drama starts. And when the drama starts so do the losses when we face the reality of losing those things closest to us. We just didn’t see it at the time. Going with the flow and the pain follows.

The biggest area is at work. Going with the flow is so common and it’s a choice we make. We choose not to raise issues, voice ideas and actively participate. We may have concluded that there is no point and we just do what we are asked to do. In this case we have no control over our external environment at work, and end up resenting it. It’s clearly our choice to go with the flow and succumbing to the demands and whims of others. Creating a life and environment we hate. And unable to see the relationship to the decisions we make. Going with the flow causes resentment.

Movements and cults are other areas we can get swept away with and we end up losing control. Some of these may be positive agents for change, but others end in disaster. Movements can be positive, while cults can be dangerous.

Don’t lose control.

The final topic is one of addictions. Our addiction to habits, behaviours, chemicals and substance are other ways we get caught in the flow and lose control of where we are going. Our habits and behaviours derail us, chemicals and substances decay us. We lose control.

Just like Tim, that day on Rainbow Bay. That day I believed I had lost him. He got caught in the flow and had no other choice but to go with it. In doing so, he lost control of where he was going. I am forever grateful that he was able to recognise this and made his way back to the place he knew he would be safe. He showed courage and had the good sense to realise when he had been dragged too far.

Can you identify where you are going with the flow? Are you being led by other things than your best interests? Have you lost control of where you are wanting to go?

What can you do to help yourself if you’re caught in that situation?

You must have courage and the good internal values to realise when you have been dragged too far. Too far away from your core values, too far away from those that love you unconditionally. When you realise that you have stopped being true to yourself. Realising when you’ve stopped living the life that you want to, and to make the adjustment back. Get back on solid ground, get out of the flow. Get back in control of your life, get back in stepping towards your dreams and goals now.

Isn’t it time that you stopped being swept away.

Have you lost yourself? Have the courage to find yourself again. Find your courage. Find YOU.

When my wife Sharon found out about our escapade, she made it her business to make sure we were easily seen. The next time Tim and I went surfing, we were outfitted in our bright fluoro green rash vests. Embarrassing it may have been, visible we certainly were. I lost control of that decision. I went with the flow.

© Tony Curl

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Tony Curl has been a successful corporate leader for 30 years. He now works alongside leaders in Australia to maintain clarity on their vision and purpose, and helps map their way around their roadblocks and obstacles. Unless you take action on your goals, they remain a dream.

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