Stepping off the sand into the surf is to leave everything behind-work, school and this hectic life we have here in NJ. And for a few fleeting moments, it's all just about riding waves and having fun. But stepping off also means that you're on your own. Sure, there's often other surfers in the water, but ultimately it all comes down to how you handle yourself in the sea.
My buddy, J.C., once told me that "all's good in the ocean, til it's not." I don't think truer words have been spoken. Conditions can and usually do change in seconds. Currents flowing north may suddenly go south. Gentle waves can become shallow-water beasts. A switch in the wind may rip a perfectly groomed ocean into a maelstrom of chop and currents. Nothing's absolute. Waves don't come in sets of 7. The last one ain't always the biggest. And they sure don't care who you are and how well you surf. The moment you let your guard down in the ocean is the exact moment when you'll suffer a world of hurt.
Which is exactly why I love to see kids get into the sport. Sure, it's scary watching them paddle out towards the horizon, but the ocean is the one place where they'll learn self-reliance and develop the ability to make split-second decisions firsthand. They have to pull creative ways to survive from within when they're caught inside the impact zone, staring up at huge waves hanging over them like a pouncing lion. Seconds will be all they have to figure out their next step and if they don't, then they've got to figure out how to take the beating too. And every wipeout, every set that breaks where they didn't expect it and every time they get washed towards a jetty will be an experience in which they'll grow and instinctually assess where things went wrong in order to avoid the same circumstances in the future.
Problem-solving, situational assessment, confidence-building, fear management, decision-making, creative-thinking...who knew surfing applied to every aspect of business and almost all facets of life? And you thought it was just cool.
Being a good surfer isn't just about riding waves. It's about having built up the knowledge it takes to make it off the beach, through the impact zone and out to the line-up. It's constantly testing your limits on a stage that is anything but accommodating or user-friendly. It's about applying the skills you learn in the water to becoming an all-around better person, whether you're on the beach or 300 miles from it.
One of my dreams is to be out in the line-up on a big day, watching my step-kids eagerly step off the beach with their boards to negotiate their way out to me. I'll be tracking them like a hawk and praying they stay safe until they touch dry sand again, but I'll also be the proudest step-dad ever.
by mike reynolds
Results 1 to 6 of 6
Nov 4, 2009, 03:13 PM #1Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2008
surfing a thinking mans game from nj.com
Nov 4, 2009, 03:29 PM #2
Hunter S. Thompson said that once a man enters the ocean, he becomes part of the food chain and not necessarily the top.
Even with a group or in a crowd, you are still absolutely on your own. with all the new technology--internet, better wetsuits, new boards, folks tend to forget about the 'on you own' part--even though that is the very essence of surfing.
check the surf even when the computer says it is gonna stink. build a board, even if it turns out funny looking. look at a map and try to find a spot that is off the beaten path.
be an individual!
great words dude.
Needless to say im not much for the poetic, guitar playing, pot smoking, hanging out and relaxing surfing stereotypes, but u hit the nail on the head man. and like mikey said rock on and be creative... i guess
You ever try to paddle into the storm surf, you know, the stuff that just keeps breaking, wind howling, while you're getting swepped down the beach? The waves aren't that great and it's starting to get dark but now you've made it a point to get out there. The current is bringing you closer to the next jetty down and you finally give up and get out and walk back. Most would walk back to their car. Some walk back to where they started and go at it again.
Nov 5, 2009, 04:27 PM #6Member
- Join Date
- Jul 2008