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A love letter to: the ocean

Ocean,

Your vibration and energy calm me. Your vastness brings me into a space in which it almost feels comfortable to be as small as I am. I think, This is where I belong.

Your waters have always been a place of automatic peace and tranquility for me. With a disability, I’m not able to walk or move on land as easily as I would like. Gravity pushes down on me so hard on a daily basis. Being in a chair, my back and hips always hurt. I feel heavy, but you provide me with a feeling of grace. In the water, I’m weightless.

When I’m riding a wave, I’m totally in the present, and that’s like gold to me. Every swell is different in its direction and in the way it breaks. In those moments, I don’t think about the past or the future.

When I first connected with the water, it was at such an important time in my life. I had just had an unfortunate experience at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, as an alpine ski racer. I won a silver medal in the downhill, but in the following race, the super-G, I had one of the worst crashes in my career, landing face-first on my chin before losing consciousness.

Afterward, I took my grandma to Honolulu to see Pearl Harbor and happened upon a program called Access Surf. Surfing is a challenging sport—you work so hard to get past the shore break and once you’ve done that, you’re already exhausted. But I loved every second of it; finally catching a wave was one of the most gratifying experiences.

Ocean, you healed not only my superficial wounds, but the wounds in my heart. Your inspiration has summoned some of my best performances. You make the world disappear. I become so hyper-focused, I’m not focused at all. You’re so unpredictable that I’m forced to surrender control over what’s happening and allow my movements to develop on their own.

I’ve always pictured myself in and around you as a pregnant woman. Your salinity is the same as the salt content of the amniotic fluid in my womb. I felt even more connected to you as I surfed while harboring this little flicker of life inside of me. I can’t wait to get back to you soon, floating, my baby and me.

Love, Alana