Surf isn't just another pleasant and pointless way to live your life. It might be your moral coach!
Are you a moral vacuum? Do you happily swipe past a photo of a drowned Syrian child for the latest Insta gal mocking you with her ass?
Of course you do. We all do. Just empty vessels awaiting salvation.
But let me go out on a limb here, out on a limb with a chainsaw in my hand, and announce something. In the irreligious west, where feelings of pointlessness and futile are endemic, and where school teachers peddle liberal cliches and a new wave of politicians sling right-wing ruthlessness, mindless activities like surf might actually be our moral coaches.
What does surf teach us?
1. There’s no substitute for hard work
Surfing at a low-level is fun, for a time. But, soon, your lack of technical ability to navigate tubes or wrangle a beachbreak takeoff or get close to staying over your board in the air, becomes tiring. How do you get better? You can read all the how-to’s you want, but it’s time in the water, waves caught, that reveals secrets. Work like a son of a bitch and the oyster opens.
2. Breath is the essence of life.
All those damn things like a lack of money, a job that inspires, a woman that doesn’t shriek at dick, don’t mean a thing if the one thing you need above everything isn’t present. And being pushed underwater until all the oxygen is squeezed out of your body is a regular-ish reminder of life’s hierarchy. (Air, water, sleep, food, sex.)
3. Sometimes your enemies are your friends
You know the play. Paddle out, get talking, set comes, pal paddles around you and takes off. Being open to trust is good, mindlessly giving it to whomever is naive and destructive.
4. Be present
As Niccolo Machivalli posited: “… if one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they are heard of only when they are great, and then one can no longer remedy them.”
In other words, surf teaches you to keep your eyes open, ready to…act. You know, I know, languid surfs where you float around, drifting from one conversation the next, are the least satisfying. Take that into your life.
5. Avoid flatterers.
Being told you rip is a lovely thing. All that dopamine sloshing around in your brain like a chemical bean bag. But it’s the pal, or observer, who’ll deliver a clear and, likely, hurtful message that will make you grow. In the water, and in the cubicle.