Saturday, March 31, 2012

Are We Becoming Blazé About Surfing?

When I was paddling out this afternoon, I noticed a tiny kid, maybe 4-5 years of age, raging away, and jumping on his board at the sight of every wave that came close. It was amazing to see this young boy pop up again within a matter of seconds, eagerly awaiting the next big wave. He was just fearless. He didn’t see the “Beach Closed” or “Strong current” signs. He didn’t feel the strength of the swell that would make him reconsider entering the water. He was just there; in passion and power for his beloved sport.
I remember when I first started surfing. Every small rise in the ocean was a wave to me, and every wave was worth catching and fighting for. High tide, low tide, I would proudly paddle out, stopping only once I had aligned myself with the line up. When I popped up and sat back on my board, and caught my breath, looking out into the distance, I finally felt I was a surfer. There were days when I would fight the white wash for hours, only just to realise I would not join the line up that day. Whatever weather, whatever tide or current, I was enthusiastic, ready and full of confidence. The main goal was to stand up and ride the waves. And I knew a lot of hard work would go into making that moment true.
I guess the knowledge of waves, as I deem it “waveology” kind of kills that enthusiasm for surfing. You learn where to surf out, avoiding the whitewash, and so align yourself quicker with the lineup. Then you learn to ‘feel’ when to stand up to get the most from your wave. Then one day ‘ta-da’ you put some pressure onto your back foot, and you find you’re turning (tricks!). One packed and crowded day on the waves, you discover two things; a massive wave coming towards you, and YOU are the first in the line up. This is your moment. This is your time to give it all that you got, knowing full well there are a dozen other surfers watching and judging you; wipeout or victory?

And so, it’s very easy to become a bit blazé about surfing. Avoiding the days when the surf is small, deciding ‘nahhh’ on in between days, and saying ‘hell no!!’ on dumpy or killer high days. You kind of set into your groove of what YOUR ideal wave is and wait for it. Just wait. As you know, surf waits for no one, and easily weeks can go past without your swell. Even when the conditions look right, we find reasons to say no to the call of the sea; big night, sore muscles, ‘not feeling it’, or a lot of paddle that’s not worth the surf. We get down to that one point in time; surfing becomes only the moment we stand on the board until we fall or get off. We shrink the whole experience to a few seconds. We even dream of someone jetskiing us out, paddling for us and even standing us up on the board, so we can enjoy those few moments of “yeeeehhaaaaa”...
Do we forget the experiences that have lead us to our moments of surfing glory?

So next time when you contemplate whether to surf or not, wetsuit or not, here or there…basically, next time you get about as annoying as a bride trying on her wedding gown…take a look at the young kid ploughing the surf. Or the happy tourists proudly posing with their rented Styrofoam boards and making exaggerated surfing gestures. Remember that once upon a time that was you, and feel that passion for surfing! Feel the wipeouts, the constant paddling, the disappointment of flat days, the rogue boards, the collisions… It’s all surfing. To compare surfing to sex, remember: the climax is as enjoyable as the foreplay, for without the foreplay it would not be!

Written by Copyright © SoulSurfer 31 March 2012 at 7.44pm


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