This is the best day of my life,” Joy said as we hauled our surfboards up the beach. I knew exactly what she meant because surfing changed my life, too. It’s hard to put into words what the simple act of riding a wave can mean to a person, but I’ll try.

Surfing is a metaphor for life itself. Many people say, “I’ll be happy as soon as...,” and they invariably finish the sentence with “I get a raise, buy a house, lose some weight” and so on. The truth is, the pursuit of those goals is the reward. Surfers always talk about the perfect wave, but some of the most enjoyable rides come in less-than-perfect conditions.

When Joy first stepped into my surf shop you could see it in her eyes. Her mom came up to the counter and said rather dejectedly, “My daughter says she wants to learn how to surf. I’m not happy about it, but I’m going along with it because I know it’s just a phase.”

They say the customer is always right, so I didn’t dare correct her and tell her the truth as I saw it. Surfing is not a phase; it’s a complete lifestyle. I should know; I own a surf shop. I took the time to show Joy all the surfboards that would be a good fit for her, as well as some of the accessories that went with them.

As I did this, something occurred to me. Here I was cooped up for ages in my shop and this girl was going surfing. That’s when I could not help blurting out, “How would you like a free surfing lesson?” She was only overjoyed at the prospect. —