Have you ever met anyone that casually said “Oh yeah, I used to surf”? I have. More than once. And I’m always left scratching my head in disarray, wondering how on earth they can just stop surfing, once they have experienced it in its full glory. Sure old age will inevitably rob you of your well-mastered cutback, or other legitimate reason to hang the towel up like an injury. But in my mind, anyone that mutters such words, was never a surfer in the first place.
I suppose when you become caught up in the spinning vortex of trying to meet work and family demands, constantly bombarding your brain with information through forever connected devices, and god-forbid, not surfing through the general business of ‘being an adult’, you can easily forget about all of those powerful feelings that come from being in the ocean.
So if you’re a surfer that’s found yourself a little land locked of late, I’m going to remind you why you need to alter some of your priorities.
Surfing is a meditation
Perhaps not at a crowded point break, where you’re battling multiple personalities, and leaving a one-metre square gap of water per human. However, if you find yourself totally alone at the back of the breakers, watching the sun rise over an ocean that’s painted with kaleidoscopic reds, you just can’t help but reach that happy place. You know, that kind of feeling that you were just born to be a surfer. Meditating is all about using the breath to clear a busy mind, and reach a place of absolute peace and contentment; something surfers consistently attain in the ocean.
You can slow down time when slotted in a barrelAs you make the vertical drop, you grab your rail as you begin to position yourself for the barrel. You lightly brush your fingers through the cascading wall of water, that’s now rushing next to your ear, you hear every drop of water in slow-motion. A silver curtain of water begins to feather in front of your eyes, and you find yourself locked, deep inside the spinning tube.
If you can relate to the unforgettable sensation of being in the barrel, congratulations, you’ve nailed one of the most technical aspects of surfing. This is the Holy Grail; to some, spiritual and sacred. Somehow you develop a super-power to make time stand still. A five second barrel can feel like an eternity, where you’re likely to be left stumbling for words, as you try to describe the indescribable, to your non-aqaurian counterparts.
Surfing teaches you to live in the moment
Surfers are some of the most laid-back, carefree humans to ever walk the earth. That’s because surfing gives you on-the-job training, on how to live in the present moment. Buddhist Monks meditate for hours on end to attain this same presence. Not you though.
When you’re paddling out into one of the biggest swells of the year, that towering wave that’s about to break square on your head, kind of has a way of forcing you into the moment by slapping all of your senses to life. That overdue phone bill, or many other land-stresses, tend to vanish from your once cluttered mind, as you think about things that actually matter like surviving the next five set waves.
Unforgettable encounters with nature
When you hang out in nature’s fish bowl, anything can happen. If you think about it, your average person only ever wades knee-deep between the flags, carefully watched over by lifeguards in speedos. Hell, I bet your Auntie Hilda still gets a spine tingle, re-living the moment that hammerhead shark, passed over her head 20 years ago at the local aquarium. Surfers however get to experience the risk, and blood pumping thrill of being up close and personal in a wild environment…without the overpriced admission fee.
This is what it feels like to be alive. When a large-finned sea creature races under your toes, or a wave towers so high before you, as to cover the rising sun, you’re reminded in a heartbeat, just how small and insignificant you are. Consider yourself very lucky to experience the world through a surfer’s eye. And please do yourself a favour, dust off that board and get back out where you belong.
SHANNON DAVIDSON is a passionate surfer from Byron Bay, Australia with an obsession of all things beach life. Inspired by the perfection and mystery contained within the ocean, Shannon loves to share with the world, through her writing, all that she finds along the way. Follow her adventures on surfchickareta.com.