Surfing lessons and shark teeth.

On a recent family vacation, we hired an instructor to teach the kids how to surf. She and her husband, a former east coast surfing champ, met us at a designated spot on the beach with surfboards and wet suits.

Curiosity was the mood as adults and kids listened. Three hours later, we were filled with awe and gratitude and had learned more about human nature than surfing.

She talked about rip currents, the art of putting on a wet suit, sea creatures, paddling properly, making the quick shift from lying down to standing up which needs to happen in one swift motion.

She encouraged, she hovered and she offered impressive patience. She did not seem rushed, despite the fact that it was peak season and her livelihood depended on the number of lessons she was able to fit in a day. She laughed with the kids, conversed with the adults and enjoyed the morning on the beach with a group of total strangers. She was completely engaged and just as curious about our family as we were about surfing.

At the end of the lesson, she offered to bring surfboards and wetsuits for the kids to borrow. She invited them to come and practice the next day while she was giving more lessons. She said she would deliver a few interesting things to the house the next day.

Sure enough, the next morning she showed up with a big plastic bag full of goodies for the kids. Surf decals, silly straws, and the most treasured of things 50 shark teeth. Real shark teeth that she had collected from spending so much time on the beach.

This chance encounter with a stranger on a beach vacation was one of those fleeting moments in life that will last forever as a shining example of how wonderful human beings can be. When we allow ourselves to be open with each other; no defenses, no need to impress, no fear of being genuine; magic moments happen. We all learned that generosity and caring are possible in any situation. We were all reminded that love for each other, sometimes through the love of what we do for a living, can be life-changing.

When the surf instructor dropped off the shark teeth, she also returned the tip that we gave her. She doesn't accept tips for doing what she loves. She thinks that she gives surf lessons. I think she makes the world a better place one kid at a time.

She made me a better person because I am more committed to being more deeply engaged, more generous, and more loving in all that I do. How about you?

With a smile,
Diane Strausser