Surfing Comfort Zones

For every large swell that graces the shore, there are those that will paddle out regardless of the size. But these surfers didn’t just acquire this skill overnight. For most normal humans that choose to take up the activity of surfing, it takes years, sometimes decades, to break down the fear barriers that come with taking on big waves. They’re continually pushing their comfort zones. And owning their progress. So how far would you say you push yours?

If you’ve ever watched an interview with Gerry Lopez, on the topic of near-death wipe outs, you would have noticed something pretty uncanny about his interview style. He’s got a ridiculous grin, as he re-lives some of his biggest wipe outs.

And I know you grin like an idiot too, when you tell your mates about that one huge day, where you were standing knee deep on a sand bar, staring at the face of a looming 6ft wave crying to mommy. We are a sick bunch, to find humor in near-death experiences. But then again, surfers are a rare breed of lemmings.

So, you’ve been surfing for a while now. You’ve probably got it pretty sorted in your mind, what you will and won’t surf in terms of size. But are you sure you want to be forever locked in the confines of your softly padded comfort zone, or is it time to break free and tickle your adrenaline supplies?

If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating

You might have heard this one before. It doesn’t just apply in the business world, your career or your relationships. It will forever apply to your surfing capabilities. Everyone knows a Derek, who surfs the same break, with the same people, in the same terrifying 1ft conditions. Word of advice. Don’t be a Derek.

Continually pushing your comfort zone in bigger waves, or at least bigger than you’re familiar with, offers an exhilarating thrill, not found anywhere else on the planet.

 Shannon Davidson Surfing

//Photo by: Alex Frings
//Surfer: Shannon Davidson

You leave the safety of the shore, and paddle as though your life depends on it (and it often does). Your heart’s somewhere between your sternum and your throat, as you push underneath sets big enough to block the rising sun. When you finally make it out the back of the line-up, a rush of relief washes over you. And you didn’t even break a fingernail.

When you catch your breath, you muster enough courage to actually turn around and paddle into one of those giants. Yup, this is happening.

You dig your hardest to get into the pitching wall of water, the offshore spray like daggers in your eyes. Finding your feet, you’re now staring down the face of the most perfectly formed green wall of water you’ve ever laid eyes on. And it’s all for you. Your body is loaded with a double shot of adrenaline, as you pump your way down the line, drawing lines as you hack that wall to smithereens, belting out gallons of spray. And here’s the best part. You remember that wave for the rest of your days.

Big waves put all the important things into perspective

When that huge clean-up set catches you, and every surfer around you off-guard, and your defenseless bodies are tossed around the ocean like ragdolls, it doesn’t matter what fancy toys you have on land, the car you drive, the title you have after your name, or how much money you have in the bank.

The point is, it’s just you, and mother nature in that moment. Some days you have to pull together every ounce of your surfing experience out of your bag of tricks, just to survive. This undoubtedly forces you to live at a greater depth. With more passion and presence in all that you do. Surfing bigger waves puts everything into perspective, keeps you grounded, and always dishes out lessons on being humble and grateful.

Maybe surfing big waves just isn’t for you. And that’s OK. After all, surfing is all about enjoying yourself. But if you constantly find yourself striving for bigger conditions, you’re living and breathing a very high level of surfing. A level not many people will ever get to experience. Bask in all the glory that is personal growth, and make a point to own your surfing skills, as you would any other degree or diploma. All those reminders of the sheer power and beauty of nature, will forever tingle your bones, and add a spring to your step.

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