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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

‘Look at the trees’

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Rachael Ward, Bermuda

Surfing in Byron Bay is definitely a bucket list activity for any visitor. My enthusiasm, however, was not matched by skill so I needed to find a school that would get me to, if not stand on a board, at least float on one.

Along came Dave my surf instructor, yet the lesson I took away from my wonderful experience was much more than learning to surf. It was that language and surf are connected and there is power in the way we communicate and use expressions to help one another.

Dave wasn’t just a master of the board but of language. He articulated difficult instructions so that the more challenged of our group (aka me) could grasp the basics. From ‘make the shape of a banana’ to ‘now bend like a banana’ and his witty observation that ‘the warrior two pose was the worst thing to happen to surfing,’ he had as much fun with words and imagery as he did the water.

But the one expression he valued and was his mantra, that he knew how to say in a variety of different languages and wanted to know if we could teach it to him in another language, was ‘look at the trees.’

To ‘look at the trees’ meant to look up from your board, and, on a literal level there were trees on the shoreline, but it was more than that. It meant face the world assertively (a word he told me to apply to my surf moves) because it was by ‘looking at the trees’ that you would find balance. If you didn’t look up, you were sure to plunge into the water, and he was right.

I think that to ‘look at the trees’ is a wonderful way to capture my first (of many) visits to Byron Bay.

Your community reminded me that balance comes with confidence, with holding your head high, and to always strive to ‘look at the trees’ so that you can ride any wave, find your peace, and see all the things this wonderful world has to offer.

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