Thursday, October 25, 2012

Surfing is No One-Night Stand

Surfers make riding waves look so effortless. I'm awestruck every time by how graceful a guy can maneuver a board and look like he's dancing on water.

I've always been drawn to finding my balance - gymnastics, figure skating, cheerleading, cruising on my skateboard... so surfing is something I've wanted to pick up for a long time - I've just been waiting for the right environment.

I have been in Bondi for 5 weeks. I'm out in the water at least four times a week for about an hour or two at a time. Before coming to Australia, my only experience surfing was two hours in Bali with an Indonesian who pushed me forward in the white-water so that my board zipped straight to shore - with that type of help, of course I was able to stand up. I'm glad I got that lesson though, because it whetted my appetite for the surfer's lifestyle.

Let me be clear, I am not a surfer. I am someone who can barely surf. I haven't had a lesson since I've been here so most of what I've learned has been from watching. I spend the majority of my time battling the breakers with my foam long board, trying to get to the back before the waves start picking up. My board doesn't allow me to duck underneath the waves, so depending on the conditions, I'm constantly getting tossed around, gulping seawater, and having brief moments of panic when I think I can no longer hold my breath.

Despite feeling like a fish out of water, I can't wait to get to the beach. I only go out there during lunch hours or after work and I avoid the weekend crowds - so conditions aren't always ideal. I may only catch a handful of waves, but I'm already infatuated with the process.

Sometimes the swells roll in constantly and there's a buzz of energy from the surfers paddling fiercely to get the last push before the wave breaks - other times the ocean looks flat for miles and there's a moment of peace as everyone floats around waiting for the next set to appear.

I can think of few activities I can do that allow my mind to be completely focused on the present moment. From the moment you arrive on the beach and start checking for the best entry point, you are forced to reconnect with nature. You have to evaluate tide, wind, and currents. There is no technological distraction (I leave everything, including my shoes, at home) and time does not matter.

So far, the best feeling is racing to catch a wave I think may be a bit too big, giving that full push and feeling my board drop in front of the wave, popping up on my knees or feet (if I'm lucky), and riding along the line where the wave breaks. I'm always surprised and it happens rarely, but it's enough to keep me coming back for more.

I'm going to miss Bondi. I'm really fortunate to have spent 9 weeks here and build the foundation of my surfing abilities. It's an activity I've fallen in love with, despite the challenges and slow progress. It's more than just being able to stand up - it's about appreciating everything that needs to come together in order to ride the wave. I'm excited to continue the journey.

*Photographs were taken using the LifeProof case :)

1 comment:

  1. what a great post! I agree.. when I took my surf lesson, for an hour my coach made us stay on the beach pretending to be on a wave, pop up in that 4 step motion from laying on the board to actual balancing on the board. surfers make catching a wave so easy. but the real work comes from paddling out, evaluating the current, all while not being wiped out the wave--- remember to paddle forward! when i first learned, i was in the water for 4 hours and wiped out at least 10 times! but the rush you get from riding a wave, going so fast, its amazing! i think those moments when you are wading in the water for the next set of waves, in calm waters, are the greatest. you just think and talk to people! its definitely an efficacious experience of Balance.