Surfers—we are a little different. Don’t get me wrong, it might not be shown on the outside when you are working or with ‘non’ surfers, but inside that is a different story.
We run on nature's time. In natures time, the ocean doesn’t know what Wednesday is and it doesn’t care if you are working or have already made plans. When there are waves, there they are and as surfers, we tend to pretty much blow anything off when the pop up (especially in Florida). Those who love us understand, those who don’t, well…oh well! Our bodies are tuned into the earths rhythms. We are driven by the wind, tides and swell. We understand the moon and its forces. Being a surfer is actually pretty neat.
There are so many things about the ocean that reflect life. Sometimes its rough and stormy and other times it is amazingly calm, clear and perfect. It can go from being rough to a storm moving through and then it becoming super flat. The ocean is completely unpredictable and totally humbling. When you think you go it down, it surprises you time and time again, always keeping you on your toes.
Being a surfer and spending so much time in this huge unpredictable body of water, you become connected and start to realize that surfing is not only the best feeling in the world and insanely fun, but it also teaches you many life lessons. There are prob. A million more but here are a few that have always stuck out to me the most:
One thing, is to understand and accept fear. There are times when you are paddling out and its rough and drifty and pounding on your head and you have to just hold your breath, go under water and calmly wait for the time you can reach the surface to get your next breath. There are times when you come up for that next breath, only to realize you have to hurry up and go back under because here comes another wave hitting you on the head. You cant panic you have to just relax and go with the flow in order to conserve the oxygen and energy needed to make it out alive.
This brings me to the gnarly white water and impact zone right before the glassy perfect peak. In order to reach this sweet spot paddle like hell and sometimes take quite the beating. Im sure most of us know the feeling of paddling out, but only moving sideways, then turning around, paddling in, getting out and walking ALLLLL the way back down the beach only to try again. Getting out there can be the hardest part, but where there is a will there is a way, and you just have to keep paddling. You WILL make it to the sweet spot, even if your hair is messy, full of seaweed and boogers are coming out of your nose when you arrive, you WILL get there.
Now that you finally made it out past the mess it is important to look around, relax and enjoy the bliss because you worked hard for it.
Not done yet! We haven’t even gotten to the surfing part.
The absolute #1 thing about surfing, and everything in life, and you must have to succeed is commitment. You must be committed 110%. Once you see that wave and turn to catch it, you cant look back, you cant hesitate. You must always look forward and focus. If you are not committed you will decide last minute to pull back and most of the time it is too late and you eat it over the falls (ouch!) Once you say you are going, GO! Don’t let fear hold you back, you will only get hurt.
Just like life, you are not always going to succeed even if you are committed. That’s ok. You mess up and eat it, you learn what you did wrong. Now you get to paddle back out and try it all over again!
Another great life lesson is adaption. No single wave or spot stays the same forever. Storms come through, sand moves around and things change, especially here in Florida we know this. That being said, you must adjust and move quickly. You must have knowledge and be flexible. Even when you are riding the face of the wave, it will break differently than the time before, so you must adjust. Nothing great lasts forever, but neither does anything horrible. Adapt and overcome.
There are some days where you paddle out and nothing seems right. Sometimes you feel like you even forgot how to surf. You are eating it on every wave and getting more frustrated as you go along which causes your flow with the ocean to be completely messed up. But then you get one good wave, and that’s all it takes. Catch that ONE good wave and your happy the rest of the day. It is important to keep your head up to see that wave coming and try and try again until you get that wave of the session. Don’t give up. I must have paddled on my stomach for 6 months before I even thought of standing up, and then it took me another 6 months to even catch a wave. But I didn’t give up.
Someone once put it like this, and it couldn’t be more correct. You have to move towards what scares you, duck under the bad stuff, lean forward into the things you flinch back from. Enjoy life when its beating you up and always watch the horizon and be patient
Surfing (and life) is all about decisions. Most to the time you don’t have time to think about it when you have to make one. The ocean tells you, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!
Prepare yourself, trust your self and your knowledge, and always look forward.
Random yet interesting fact that I once read is that, surfing depends on the interaction between wind and water to create swell. Once the swell reaches the land it breaks. That breaking swell that we ride is simply a medium that transmits the energy that has been pushed from across the ocean. The actual water molecules are more or less stationary as the waves themselves travel thousands of miles across the ocean. What does that mean? We are actually riding energy when we are surfing. Pretty cool, huh?