The game of surf gifts us immunity to the calamities of life.
The sting of rejection? The burn of disappointment? The horror of reflection? You won’t feel a damn thing if you surf. Here’s how the game of surf gifts us immunity to the calamities of life.
1. Self-Reflection (watching yourself surf on video for the first time)
Most of us think we look like gilded ballerinas on a wave. Watching it, transferred to the smart screen sitting in your palm, there are snippet parts familiar to an Eastern European throwing an American football for the first time. Ever seen? It’s physically impossible to make the pigskin look more awkward, askew or asymmetrical, flying through the air like a buck-shot duck. The good news? No one is exempt from being graded on this Bell Curve. Just like the camera adds five pounds, no one (except John John and some choice elite) is immune. Michel Bourez’s arm flares are akin to a Kermit the Frog freak out with Miss Piggy in pursuit. Let’s not forget Adriano’s Bitchy Crab Stance. Options: Think of POV Go-pro vids like a reverse Monet, the closer you are the less of a mess it seems to be…
2. Introspection (Recognizing our wave-height ceiling)
Everyone lands on this vertical timeline. There are a few things that are inherently terrible but everyone pretends to like and are socially bound to accept: listening to someone’s Declaration of Independence about their kids baseball game, cute photos of the cat snuggling with the dog on the couch. Most therapists will tell you guilt is like carrying a bag of bricks, just put them down. Like telling your friend you truly hate their outfit, there is a liberating effect to saying, ‘No way man, too big for me.’ Like a 12-step program on the way to recovery, a simple equation applies: 40ish (years of age)+ 20 (years surfing experience)+ 1 solid turn + ability to thread a tube = Honestly not giving a shit what the groms in the surf shop or the parking lot crew think about your limits.
3. Rejection (Back of the bus)
That peeling point where the locals take off behind the rocks. Their little rotation, closed to outsiders, trading stories, is very similar to a circle of cheerleaders giggling over the quarterback. Paddling into one of these snake pits reminds me of freshman year in high school. Of walking into the cafeteria for the first time, desperately scavenging for a morsel. You can’t blame them. They earned it and they have the skill and knowledge to take off deeper. John Steinbeck said one of the possible reactions to social ostracization is that a man becomes determined to be better, purer and kindlier. Go back to your beachie, work on that wrap and return with a swagger.
4. Disappointment (Optimistic/confident surf forecasts)
At this point, the sexually provocative website Surfline (and the likes) remind me of the soothsayer from Julius Caesar. Sure, they can tell the future, but what kind of future? Beware, the Ides of March is a transitional season month with sudden wind shifts. Like Bob Dylan said, “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows.” I’ve made dinner plans with old friends months in advance only to have them disappear one by one like characters from the movie Clue. Turns out, the ‘best laid plans’ are the ones never made. Hyped-up swells that only show half of what they promised on the wind charts remind me of “current” Tinder pics from 10 years ago. Both letdowns are equally painful. Eventually, the light of day exposes both. If Alexander Pope was bright enough to translate Homer from the Greek, then he’s good enough too summarize limp swells. “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”