10 December 2015

The Joy of Surf

Every so often, there is a day when I just need to surf. When onshore stuff in my life is dragging me down, I need to get offshore to lose myself and find myself in the ocean. Today was one of those days.

For me, there's nothing that compares to the feeling of riding a wave born from the interaction of wind and water many miles away. It puts me fully present in the moment; for those scant seconds, there is nothing else but my dance with the sea.
Recently I dipped a toe into the dating pool after a long marriage ended, and my friend Nancy's book has been inspirational. Everything I Know About Dating I Learned Through Surfing has pearls of wisdom like "If it looks good, don't just sit there. Paddle over there, and get it!" and "Have patience. Don't jump on the first wave of a set because you're tired of waiting."

I was thinking about the parallels at Hennemans this morning. Mid-period swell brought shorepound steadily into the cobblestone beach. The waves raised a loud clatter as they hurled stones toward the cliff and I watched the horizon for a break between sets before I plunged into the ocean with my 6'2". "Timing really is everything."

The crowd was moderate and I stayed to the side on the secondary peak. The benefit of the shorter-period swell was that there weren't many lulls; another wave came almost as soon as I paddled back from riding one. It's not in the book, but there will always be another wave.

As the tide dropped, there were boils everywhere, places where the reef was shallow, spots that distorted the waves in unpredictable ways. Several times I pulled back from a wave I'd caught when the face before me mutated into something unrideable. "Trust your gut when it's time to bail." But once when the wave changed its mind about which direction it was breaking as I popped up, I was able to quickly respond and go with it. The functional stance I learned at Surf Simply is becoming habit, and it is much more flexible than my old stance. Like my coach said, it's a matter of being fully in control of the board on the wave, rather than a passenger on it.
"If you're not having any luck, maybe you're at the wrong break."
So far in my nascent dating adventure, I've tried for a few waves that looked promising but never broke. And I've paddled for some and then stopped, thinking, this is not going to happen so why am I wasting my time? But during this morning's oceanic musings, one thing became clear, which is that I need to be looking for a surfer to share my life. Surfing is so important to me that I had a wave tattooed on my shoulder as a permanent marker. It's like oxygen; something I must to have to live. I need a guy who gets that, who feels the same pull of the ocean and has the same compulsion to seek the indescribable joy that comes from riding a wave. Someone who understands the magic of watching the sunrise while floating in a glassy sea, who looks in wonder at a passing seal or dolphin, and who will duck with me when, like this morning, a flock of pelicans flies low over the water straight at us and breaks to the sides at the last moment. I don't think it really matters what he uses to ride waves – as long as it's not a Costco Wavestorm – although it would be nice to find a shortboarder who could push me outside my comfort zone. A regular foot, so we could split A-frames, or a goofy foot, so we could seek out the best lefts together – I'm not particular about that.

I don't know how long it will take to find him, but he's out there, somewhere. I'll keep smiling and chatting in the lineup, and maybe one day we'll bump into each other. One last thought from Nancy's book: "The ocean isn't going anywhere. Tomorrow brings more waves."

No comments:

Post a Comment