Winning a contest or even second is the best! But to weep? Like gal?
Crying is a poignant reaction to life’s cosmic drama. Diane Warwick, singer and champion of psychics, said, “Crying is cleansing. There’s a reason for tears.”
And she is right but she is also a she. Crying for a man, however poignant, whatever the reason, is a dicey proposition. Crying for the sporting man even dicier. Crying for the surfer, who practices the softest sport of all, the diciest. Which is not to say crying, for the surfer, is always wrong. We don’t believe in cruel blacks and whites at Beach Grit. We believe in open hands and open hearts. We practice a severe benevolence.
But we also look at Gabriel Medina’s watery eyes, beret perched on Rip Curl cap, with disdain. He is rubbing away the tears like a toddler after losing to Julian Wilson in Portugal. His expression is dour. Gabriel is, without doubt, very competitive but, and here is the irony, he is not old enough to cry after defeat. He is not old enough to cry after victory. He dwells in those tender years when crying is not appropriate because, quite simply, he has not experienced enough ups and downs to justify it. When he felt the watery sting begin to boil behind his eyes he should have marched off the stage in a huff. Being a bad sport is much preferred to being a bad sport and a baby.
And we also look at Jordy Smith sobbing on the shores of Jeffrey’s Bay, blubbering openly, with great joy. Jordy is only slightly older than Gabriel and has only slightly more professional experience but the way he has given himself over, completely, to emotion makes it impossible to criticise. Jordy is crying like he has just accomplished the hardest thing on earth. He is crying like he alone, through sacrifice and great effort, brought lasting peace to the Middle East. His face is a mask of unimpeded emotion and it is so out of line with just winning J-Bay that it shall forever endure as Beach Grit’s icon.
And we also look at Kelly Slater weeping into the microphone in Puerto Rico after his victory and Andy Irons death. This was a dark, dark day in surfing’s relatively bright history and Kelly’s torture mirrored that of so many. It was a fine reaction to real loss. Kelly took the burden of tears and allowed others to be remain solemn and sad without also weeping. Through thick and thin, Kelly Slater has always been our ambassador. Our great totem.
Yes, the crying surfer is the diciest proposition but, as Diane Warwick said, “The problem with fame is you no longer belong to you. You lose your persona and become the object of other people’s obsession.” Amen.
(Editor’s note: The photo of Jordy weeping like gal is by English/Surf Images)