My Surf Addiction

Paddled out at around 10:30. First decent swell in weeks. Slight offshore conditions. Usual late-morning winds not yet stirred up. Long intervals between sets, waves almost head-high on the drop, slow pitching, long length, occasional A-frames . looks like backdoor-shooting-the-curl is a possibility. Water getting cooler at 66 degrees but real glassy. It’s mid-tide; tide going out, looks ideal for some long rides.

This is a fitting first surf diary entry because in a way, it represents a renewal. Today was the first time I surfed in three weeks. While that may not sound like a long time to someone who, say, sold their soul to the devil and took a corporate job that sent them away from the coast for a couple years; nonetheless for me, I started to feel like a Heroin junkie. I needed a surf fix. My “Mojo”, as Austin Powers would say, felt like it had been stolen.

I used this time out of the water to try to reconnect with my Zen sense of self. What does that mean? It means trying to perfect the art of being emotionally calm and not having anxious and negative thoughts. In the past I’d worry that if I took off three weeks from paddling, the first session back out would feel like my very first one. (My arms sure did feel that way today. Thank God for the long intervals!)

Being my true self means not letting negative, self-deprecating thoughts creep into my soul. I bet some surfers in their minds were saying during this particularly swell-less summer, “God damn it! Another day of this flat crap; this summer sucks. I can’t wait for swell. When the hell’s it gonna come?”

I imagine I’m taken prisoner and trapped in my own version of personal hell: Trapped in a Las Vegas poker lounge, forced to listen to a Cher impersonator, everybody smokes cigarettes. Obese Mid-Westerners smother me at the buffet, fighting for that last piece of bacon. And of course in my personal hell, there are no waves.

But to transport myself to surf nirvana, even if I’m in a Wal-Mart (another personal hellacious experience) or 30,000 feet above ground in a plane, I meditate on surfing. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but if I try, I can zap myself out of a chaotic-mindset and remember some of the best waves I’ve ever ridden. The image that most comes to mind is carving up and down the wave face after executing an effortless bottom turn.

Today I had one of the best sessions of my life. Although the set waves were infrequent, I caught about a dozen 15-second rides. The waves weren’t crowded. I looked up and saw wispy clouds change shapes. Remember doing that as a kid? A bucking bronco transformed into a rat, then to a rabbit. Three dolphins swam by me (this was not imagined), a mere 30 feet away from me, arching their backs and blowing out their blowholes (Anybody know the fancy term for that?).

Another reason I had an “epic” session today is because I gave my passion a rest, at least in the physical realm. Sometimes when you do something every day, you lose that “Chasing the Dragon” rush, much like a drug addict. I’ll admit it, I’m addicted to surfing. But forcing myself to quit the habit for almost three weeks, experiencing withdrawal symptoms is something I’ll likely do again-though not anytime soon-to “score” another epic session.


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