Was I Predestined to Surf?

A girl from England recently contacted me. She’s studying Outdoor Education and is working on a dissertation on surfing as a form of therapy. She asked me a few questions and I responded off the cuff. It was fun to revisit the events which led me to be a dedicated surfer.

Can you tell me about your journey as to how you became involved in surfing.

This may sound corny, but I do believe that I was destined to surf. Not a professional or expert surfer by any stretch of the imagination; rather, I was meant to be an average surfer with a love for soul-carving, feeding off the spiritual rejuvenation that this sport and lifestyle graces with me just about every day, even on the flat ones.

But it took me until almost age 30 to figure this out. I was born with an aquatic prediliction, learning how to swim well by age 5 and spending every summer of my life until age 17 swimming, bodysurfing and bodyboarding in the Mediterranean. My mother, who comes from Israel, nicknamed me “Juke,” which in Hebrew means “Cockaroach”. I took it as a compliment, as my mother was actually calling me a “water bug” and not a roach.

Over the next decade, I lost my connection to the ocean. Age 16 was the last time I summered in Israel. For the next 10 years, I lived my life like a land-locked fool. First came the provincial university where I went to, close to Washington, D.C., which is about 2-3 hours from the Atlantic Ocean. I became a neanderthal-like party God, drinking copious amounts of beer. My greatest concern now is chasing waves. Back then, during my unenlightened period, my main motivation: chasing babes. Chasing babes to chasing waves…this has been my spiritual evolution.

Instead of going back to Israel during the summers, like I now wish I had, I stayed near home and university, partying with my mates and not having any other ambition.

I moved to San Diego, California at age 26 (I’m now 36). Intuition led me to San Diego. Not for a job, that’s for sure. I didn’t really know anything about the city and its environs, nonetheless, I figured, “How bad could San Diego be?”

I didn’t start surfing right away, nor did I have any expectations to. I was living about 20 minutes inland and while that may not be that far to the coast for some, it didn’t matter: surfing was not on my radar.

About six months after I first arrived in San Diego, a co-worker took me surfing for the first time. My very first session, a trio of dolphins surfed a wave within about 50 meters from where I was sitting on the inside. I didn’t catch any waves that first day, but what a rush to see those dolphins, aerodynamically perfect in the clear crest of the wave, speeding down the line. It was a left that I’ll never forget. Those dolphins looked like submarines, they were so huge!

Do you feel that taking up surfing was a turning point in your life ?… how

Absolutely has surfing been a major factor in my life. In fact, after the first few times I surfed, I didn’t take it up regularly. That wouldn’t come for another six months. I went through a major depression after breaking up with the girl who moved to San Diego with me in April, 1999.

I’m glad I went through that hellacious period of a few months because it’s the perfect example of: what doesn’t kill you making you stronger. Not only that, but had I not went through that experience, perhaps I never would have gotten into surfing. Because, after I eventually got my mental mojo back, I’ve pretty much been surfing almost every day and feel spiritually cleansed from its effects.

I had an amazing dream one night that gave me the motivation to get back into surfing post depression. I was still hurting from the breakup but was at least functioning. One day during that time, I took a short rode trip and walked along the pier and slumped my forearms on the wood railing next to some fisherman and watched the surfers.

I do remember thinking how awesome the feeling of surfing a wave must be, but I still wasn’t determined or aware that I’d eventually be surfing on an almost daily basis and feeling perpetually stoked. But that night, I dreamt that I was carving a wave, it was a perfect turquoise head-high right. The feeling of cutting back and doing turns felt so real. Considering I couldn’t even skateboard at that time, this was an amazing alternate reality, albeit a fleeting one.

That next day, I scheduled a surf lesson and haven’t looked back since.

How is surfing part of your life now?

My occupation is a wellness coach. I do pain releif therapy, nutrition coaching and exercise. As successful as I may sound, I have limited my income potential because of surf. I always book clients around less than ideal tides. I refuse to take on jobs that require me to be at a certain time and place on a daily basis. I like to freelance and work for myself so I can always surf.

If partying and wooing the fairer sex was my raison d’etre in college and the few years after, before I moved to San Diego, now, my main reason for being is surfing. I can’t ever see giving it up.

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