"If you added up the seconds that a good surfer actually spent riding the waves..."
There is so much VAL literature these days that I think it is officially its own genre and I have a nagging recollection that I’ve already written this but jet-lag is clouding my normally clear thinking. The VAL’s perspective, looking in from the outside while also trying to join the movement, as it were, is valuable. Like a mirror showing us our best selves and how often are you your best self?
I am not very often and especially not whilst surfing. Owner of professional surfing at co-Waterman of the Year (’19) Dirk Ziff had it right when he spoke about grumpy locals.
But a new piece in this morning’s New York Times makes me want to be better. Makes me aspire to a brighter life and I will give you the quick backstory. A 41-year-old-man decided to become a nurse but also had debilitating arthritis that left him unable to walk. So he went to nurse school in a motorized scooter then transferred to a University in Melbourne, which made me chuckle because… well, I never think of “school” and “Australia” at the same time unless I’m thinking “schoolies” and have you ever seen schoolies in action? It is Australian art. Like a debauched version of the Mormon’s Hill Cumorah Pageant.
In any case, the 41-year old man went to Bondi for a month and observed the wildlife from his window.
Watching the surfers, I noticed that the time they spent standing on their boards, riding waves — doing what nonsurfers would call surfing — was minimal compared with the time they spent bobbing around in the water next to the board, generally going nowhere. Even the really good surfers spend far more time off the board than on it.
If you added up the seconds that a good surfer actually spent riding the waves, it would amount to only the smallest fraction of an entire life. Yet surfers are surfers all the time. They are surfers while they are working their crap jobs, daydreaming about surfing. They are surfers when they wake up at 4 in the morning. They are surfers when they walk the board down the hill to Bondi Beach. They are surfers when they drink their predawn espressos. They are surfers when they paddle out on their boards. They are surfers when they wait and wait for the right wave. They are surfers when they wipe out, thrashing around blindly in the waves, praying the board doesn’t crack their skulls. They are surfers when they sit by their trucks with their friends after surfing, silently eating their grain-bowl meals.
And the thing about surfers? They don’t seem to regret all that time they don’t spend standing on boards and riding waves. Not only are they surfers all the time, they are, it seems to me, happy all the time.
And doesn’t this make you want to live your best life? Doesn’t this encourage you to make every day count? Doesn’t this inspire you to eat, pray, love?
It does me.
I didn’t finish the story but assume he went on to surf himself and learned more valuable lessons that he applied to his nursing patients.
Speaking of nurses, my cousin once became a nurse and then started robbing banks. He robbed almost thirty in California before he got caught and sent to jail where he did eight some years. I always thought that was a pretty good deal. Almost thirty banks for eight years and also “bank robber” is a better job description than “nurse.” The math really adds up on that one. Anyhow, he got out of jail and started robbing banks again. I was hoping he’d hit the all-time record (50) set in 2002 but he was caught again just shy of 40, I believe.
Eat, rob, love.