The Art of Surfing

I did not post anything yesterday, as some of you may have noticed. Instead I went surfing. It was suggested by a friend, who noticed the omission, that surfing was a waste of my time. That I would be better off writing.

“But you run!” I countered. He replied “Yes, but that does not take much time.”

And so the question was posed by myself to myself:

Is surfing worthy of the large chunks of time spent in its pursuit? Would I be better off doing something else with my time? If the downside to surfing is the amount of time it takes to do it, what are the positive aspects of surfing that non-surfers might not appreciate? And in the pursuit of one passion (writing), must you give up others (surfing)?

My friend is right. Surfing is a very time-consuming activity. Particularly if you, like me, want to make the most of it every time you go out. Typically I surf for three hours straight. Then I might come in, go home to eat something and watch to see what happens over the course of the day. If conditions are good in the afternoon, there is a good chance a second session will be undertaken. The second session is often shorter, but can be as long as two or two and a half hours. On REALLY good days, I’ve been known to surf three times.

The end result is that entire days can be spent in the pursuit of waves. That is a lot of time to spend doing a sport. Some would go so far as to call it decadent. But is surfing just a sport? or is there more to it than meets the uninitated eye?

The label “surf bum” is often applied to surfers who spend a lot of time surfing and less time working or taking care of the things that other people feel they must do in the course of their daily lives. And certainly, the perception is that the surfers are “wasting” their time.

An older surfer I know has been quoted as saying:

In my life, I’ve had a wonderful time wasting my time surfing. And the most important word in that statement is “wonderful.”

Hedonistic? Maybe, but I submit that this notion of surfing as a waste of time is completely subjective. Who are we to say that anything one does is a waste of time?

You are right now exactly where you should be.

The spiritual nature of surfing must not be dismissed. Between sets, sitting atop his board, surfer becomes meditator. The only sounds he hears is the roar of the waves and sea birds’ calls. She bears witness as whales breach and cavort outside the break. Sunrise and sunset are greeted partially submerged in the pulsing, breathing, life-giving Ocean. Immersed in nature, surrounded by beauty, the surfer is transformed.

The metaphorical becomes reality when the surfer literally walks on water. Unlike a mountainside or other solid surface, the wave is ever changing and dynamic, requiring of the surfer so much focus and concentration that the mind is released from the craze-inducing endless stream of thoughts. The surfer realizes a Zen-like state. Surfing offers release and the surfer returns from the adventure calmer, more centered, content.

The end result is EXACTLY the same as meditation!

So you tell me, is meditation a waste of time?

Yesterday’s surf at Nine Palms, Baja, Mexico.
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