Surf Lessons: What I’ve Learned after Surfing 10 Years

After 10 years of surfing consistent, mostly beginner and intermediate level waves here in California, I think I’m good enough of a surfer to be featured in a photo spread in a surf magazine.  If only there were a publication called Average Surfer, my mediocre surf chops would be immortalized on a glossy page for life.

Of course, being glorified has never been my intent.

Having a daily spiritual connection that I absolutely love doing more than anything in the world was and is always the goal.

After 10 years, mission accomplished!

If only George W. Bush would have been a surfer instead of a preemptive starter of a dubious war, maybe he, too, could unambiguously fly the Mission Accomplished banner high.

Surfing has for the last decade brought me a profound sense of joy, otherwise replacing a life that surely would have been filled with melancholy and countless wasted hours on Facebook, and other “social media” sources that I think drain the life force rather than supplying humanity with it.

I’ve learned that I still have ways to go, not only to improve my surfing, but to also improve as a human. More accurately, I’m trying in this lifetime, and every subsequent one, if in fact I do end up reincarnating, to act, at times, superhuman.

This means smiling in the lineup, even if deep down inside I am so thoroughly disappointed at how crowded my local break has become. It also means learning to accept that all things evolve. As much as I want my mellow beach town to remain a small speck on the map, bypassed by tourists, I’ll have to accept the fact that paradise has in a way been somewhat lost. The secret is out. Surfing has become so mainstream. How many thousands of other surf websites like this are there? Am I just rehashing thousands of other’s surfers sentiments?

If so, so be it.

I count my blessings that I lead the life I do, full of abundance in many things.

Yet, after a decade of surf stoke, there are many days where I forget to focus on the stoke and instead focus on the negative emotions; mostly anger. Fans of the movie, the Big Lebowski will surely recognize a negative energy that all too often plagues surfing and contradicts the Aloha spirit. It’s called “Unchecked Aggression.”

This aggression will not stand, man, to quote “The Dude.”

At least with me, it won’t. I refuse to allow unchecked aggression into my surf soul.

Ten years later, it’s a daily struggle, but I reaffirm my goal of being present every moment, recognizing anger and immediately transferring it into a positive thing.

After all this time in the water, what tools have I learned to use to make each session a more enjoyable one?

Before each session, I pray that I enjoy a fun and safe session. That’s all I ask for. The overwhelming majority of the time, the universe answers my prayer. After 10 years of praying for fun surf, I’ve realized that praying, like surfing, or playing guitar, takes practice.

So does practicing what Duke Kahanamaku, the early 20th century ambassador and emissary of surfing, advocated on a daily basis: realizing that there will be other waves and that we should thoroughly enjoy sharing waves with others we might not even know.

Easier said than done.

I also know that after 10 years of surfing and now being close to age 40, I have to stretch after each session and eat properly if I’m to surf for decades to come.

I’ve learned that in order to be a surfer, it helps to have a job with flexible hours. Thank God I Surf and Thank God I work for myself.

Surfing is an endeavor that can eat up 4 hours, easily. Average sessions last an hour and a half. Add getting ready and walking or biking back and forth from the break, a shower, post-session grub, and if necessary, a power nap.

It’s a miracle I can get any work done being a surfer.

At the end of my life, I’ll remember all the fun I had surfing, not all the awesome times I had in a cubicle.

For those stuck in a cubicle, Monday-Friday, I feel your pain. But I’m also glad you’re not in the water, making the breaks impossibly even more crowded. But I hope one day, you do discover something like surfing that fuels a stoke you’ve never experienced before, as I have for over 10 years….


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