Try to surf more like Laird, just copy him... everything he does... everything he is... be Laird.Betty, I hear that and agree. You use the word "flow" and that's a term used by many when discussing "the zone" and peak performance. We are talking about it in another forum thread actually at the moment. Flow is what it's all about no matter what you're talking about in life. It's the place to be.
You use the analogy of learning to walk and that's a good descriptor of the body's intuition and adaptive resilience. The body does well with adapting to things like balance when you just give it the chance to. Excessive thinking and analysis freezes and inhibits the body from doing what it needs to. From a biomechanics perspective, good form is actually less work and less movement than bad form. "Skillful" execution occurs in time when the body trims the fat on its physical movements and simplifies it and streamlines it. It's a simple formula but not always easy to get into or maintain the relaxed mindset.
My search for improvement on a technical level stems from not taking for granted what surfing requires at the higher levels of execution and naively thinking I'll keep progressing if I just go out there paddling any which way and turning into a wave any which way expecting that it will just happen. If there are aspects of my technique that are a hindrance or detriment to moving forward at all, then I want to identify and modify those aspects. If I'm hitting a sticking point and not catching many waves or being able to get longer rides, it could be a matter of poor conditions and close outs but it's also likely that aspects of my form could be changed to change the result. Someone in the "saw something cool today" thread talked about a kid they saw shredding crap waves with a half broken sponge top with no fins. The technique, form, and strategy we use has great consequence input performance and that's undeniable.
Mental assessment and off-time deliberation is part of my process just as the many hours I've been fortunate to get on the water are. I enjoy all of it.