So Happy New Year everlybuddy

Yes I know I promised to share the latest development with the PhD, but I’d prefer to wait just a little bit until certain aspects have been 100% confirmed. So in the meantime, I dug in the archives and found a little story I wrote a few years ago when I started surfing. It’s one of my favourite stories of all those I’ve written…..

When I tell people who’ve known me for a while now that I’ve started surfing, I get an assortment of response ranging from “Cool!” to “I knew you were crazy”.  Last Sunday when I mentioned to my mom that a friend finally convinced me to pickle along with him to Kung Fu classes, she couldn’t hide the fact that she thought that that would be a much better hobby for me to have than surfing.  I know from my mom’s point of view, it’s kind of her job to be worried about me, so despite the hard time I usually give her about everything she’d rather have me on dry land than the prospect of me possibly being “that” part of the food chain.  I think for most of my friends however they see the appeal that something like surfing has for me, but I’m pretty sure there might be some thinking, uuuhmm another one of her attention seeking ploys.  I won’t deny, that there are indeed times I certainly do things deliberately for attention, ya, ya no use hiding, you know me – part of my make-up, I sometimes have the tendency to demand attention from time to time, but no no, I honestly don’t believe this one falls in the same category.  I will admit however, although saying I surf does satisfy my need for getting attention to a certain extent, however, honestly, it means so much more to me.

 So last week a friend gave me a Jack Johnson CD, and listening to track no. 14 of Thicker than Water, got me thinking about this whole surfing thing. 

For me surfing is a lot like a metaphor for real life in so many ways.  I’ve always thought when I heard people talking about catching a wave, it was just a saying or cute phrase to say you’re going surfing – it’s not.  When you surf, it really literally is all about catching up to a wave.

See in order to surf, your board has to be going at the same momentum as the wave you’re trying to ride, in fact a little faster than that taking into consideration that at a point you’ve gotta jump up and mount yourself on the board to be able to ride the wave.  If you and your board are not going just slightly faster as you mount and your weight hits the board, the wave will definitely pass you if you weren’t in the right position.  Sound similar to real life maybe?

Like real life there are kinds of waves that head our way, most of the time a person is not even sure what exactly the next wave will be like – sure you see the wave coming, but and yet my humble experience surfing, sometimes what looks like a hectic wave approaching turns out to be too weak to pick up my board, and yet there are times it feels like a powerful wave just materialized from nowhere.  Whether or not you see the wave coming, sometimes you are in fact ready and sometimes you’re just not.

 There are times you’re just not fast enough for that wave and you feel the wave’s power carrying your board but then follows that feeling we can all relate to, the wave passes you, leaving you behind in it’s trail.  Other times you paddle furiously and then jump up only to realize you jumped up too soon – the wave hadn’t yet caught up to your speed thus meaning you on the board but the dang thing wasn’t under you yet, so then the wave actually does pass you;-), in the end leaving you behind anyway.  Consider the times when you had it all going, but you gave up paddling too soon, only realizing afterward, just a few more strokes then you would have had it, but the moment and the wave is gone already. 

There are also those times when you actually are going fast enough but feeling the power of the wave under you is just so amazing that you decide not to even make an attempt to mount, so you close your eyes and just ride that wave flat belly on the board all the way to the surf while thinking to yourself “If I crash into a granny out for her morning swim, I’ll just say sorry and offer to buy her lunch”.

Reading waves is another science all on its own.  I’ve just started so I’m not very good at all, however I’ve seen that even my experienced instructor doesn’t judge each wave 100% each time.  Besides that there are external factors which play a role, like the wind and currents playing with waves so you can end up riding one wave and crashing into another heading in a different direction, or riding one wave with another on its tail pushing it on……no words can describe what a cool feeling that is.  Sometimes however the one wave pilfers power from the other, so they kind of peter each other out.  However even on the weakest or crappiest waves, I’ve seen though how experienced surfers can catch almost any wave by either judging the right speed of it or compensating by changing position on the board.

No matter what wave you riding, it’s awesome feeling when you mount the board, get into a semi crouch position and ride the wave to the shoreline, and to do that you need to have at a least a certain amount of physical and mental strength, to get out there with the big boys.  Look there is always the option of playing on the shoreline with the kids, and ya sure, nothing wrong with that, I love doing that too, but it’s not the same as getting out there and surfing.

About 2 weeks ago on a Saturday, the surf was really rough and conditions were bad, having only a board shorts and rash vest instead of a wetsuit on, I ended up with scratches and bruises on my body (I haven’t a cooking clue how that happened and what could have scratched me either), but besides that I’d hiked up Platteklip Gorge Table Mountain earlier the morning and only had a handful of nuts and a yoghurt while driving to the mountain for breakfast.  When I got to the beach, after 45 minutes in the rough waters, I started experiencing mild hypothermia.  I can’t recall experiencing anything like that before, it was just weird.  I had to get out of the water and I realized how dumb I’d been to have such a measly breakfast beforehand.  My point being, that’s the way it happens in real life too, we get so caught up in what we are doing at the time, that at the time we forget to take care of ourselves.

Then there was last Sunday, when my favourite red watch came off while surfing.  One minute I checked the time was 10:47 and the next minute (ok, I don’t really know it was the next – watch being gone and all ;-P) there was nothing on my wrist.  It wasn’t nice to lose a such favoured item, so I admit I looked around a bit but I realized it was pointless to even try and search.  There are times that life is like that too.  

So that’s why I reckon, life is kinda like surfing, catching a wave or not, or letting it pass, but mostly it’s about trying, and keeping on trying, even if you lose your balance and end up doing circus tricks off the board and into the water… if you ever try surfing, I bet you’ll just get back on the board and try to catch the next one.

While riding a wave you caught is awesome, there is also something to be said about that moment just after the wave throws you off the board and you go under water.  You hold your breath, and the cold salty water goes into your nose and ears, burning and feeling refreshing at the same time.  Your body swings, and as you go deeper it’s feels like you doing a dance with the current, kind of naturally spinning you.  You go deeper in so the board passes over your head and then the wave passes.  Even if you failed to catch the wave, in a way I can’t explain, it still feels so cool, like it was worth the try. For me, that’s the real essence of surfing, what surfing’s about.  No, not saying so cos I’m still falling off more wave than I’m actually catching 🙂

If you get a chance, have a listen to that track. Surfing’s really like Native American Indian chant explains

Witchi tai tau, Kemorah, Hora Niko, Hora Niko

Hey Ne, Hey He, No-ah

Water Spirit feeling springing round in my head

Makes me feel glad that I’m not dead.

Ya that’s what it’s about for me too, No fear, No regrets, Don’t Panic and whatever happens don’t forget to breathe……just not underwater k