Surfers – Not Your Average Beach Bums

Hurricane Bill Cocoa Beach August 2009
Hurricane Bill, Cocoa Beach, FL, August 2009

I surf because it makes me a better person. The stigma is that surfing is a waste of time. Surfers are unkempt, irresponsible, and reckless.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. I work hard during the week and I play harder in my free time. I would love to live on Kona, Hawaii. There is no night life. On weekends, or during off-working hours, it’s not unusual to see people walking around with their paddles, outrigger canoes, surfboards, boogie boards and flippers at 6 am. At 9 pm, many folks are asleep. They’ve paddled, swum, surfed themselves into a peaceful state of mind and soft, cozy bed.

Surfing was at the top of my list when I came back to life after climbing my way out of the crisis of my life. I had been a shell of a human being. My family and friends had started to recognize me again when I bought my first board, nicknamed “Blue Lightening” – a fun board I bought in Cocoa Beach, Fl, hometown of surf legend Kelly Slater. I had already hired an instructor, Marcello, who was a fabulous teacher. We sat on the beach and he talked for a half hour and I listened. I learned all about safety and the basics. He then pushed me into waves and told me to paddle! paddle! I wasn’t paddling! I wasn’t paddling? My arms felt like noodles.

I wasn’t paddling. Surfing is mostly paddling. Nobody tells you that. Nobody tells you how much work it actually is. Nobody tells you, “Hey, the ocean. Yeah, it doesn’t ever stop. Always watch. Always.” Nobody tells you how hard you will have to work to paddle through all that damn whitewash to get to the outside of the break. You want to give up. The waves never stop. The ocean is not prejudiced. It doesn’t care about your age, gender, ethnicity, financial status, or physical fitness level. It will keep coming. You have to turtle roll or duck dive your ass off to get to the outside, often getting pushed back, wiping out before you ever get up on a wave. Over and over.

Surfing is work.

But the waves! That’s why you have someone teach you to pop up and push you into waves. If you don’t experience the exhilaration, you’ll never sweat and toil to get there. And once you experience that mountaintop, that first ride, you will be changed forever. The stories of “that wave” and “that wipeout,” the people you meet along the way, the relationships you make, and the calm that comes through the toil and the fun, allows you to be a much better person after that surf session than before. And the ocean, the ocean is not prejudiced. It doesn’t care about your age, gender, ethnicity, financial status, or physical fitness level. It will keep coming. And it will provide hours of challenges and fun resulting in relaxation and a better state of being.

Surfing Kaahaluu Break Kona, HI
Surfing Kona, Big Island, HI, Kahaluu break, June 2009

 

So, yeah, next time you meet a surfer and you want to scoff, do the right thing. Smile and wish them a great day. And, go ahead and ask where you can rent a board. Learn a little and you’ll never regret it.

Peace.

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9 thoughts on “Surfers – Not Your Average Beach Bums

  1. Did you learn as an adult or did you already know a little before you got an instructor? How long did it take you to learn? I’d love to live somewhere where I could learn to surf – I’ve only tried once, on Maui, but I loved it! (The paddling, yes I remember that!) Great post! Surfing has such a reputation for being an insider thing, this was an inspirational read!

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    1. Thanks! I learned as an adult. I understand about not having anywhere to surf as I now live back in my hometown in Florida, 2 hours from decent surf. My father surfed in the sixties and said he’d teach me when I was younger, but it was too difficult back then to travel and pursue that father/daughter adventure. I used to live near Cocoa Beach, so it was easy to surf then. I think most surfers are open and willing to encourage and help out. Many of us know how healing and freeing it is.It is a good idea to be aware of surfing etiquette, though.

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  2. I don’t surf but I love watching surf documentaries. There’s something so relaxing about watching them. I do love to ski and I think it must be similar, a similar joy – being on the mountain in the snow, being in the water, that connection.

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    1. I would love to snow board sometime. With surfing, the ocean never stops. You are constantly “on,” and that’s part of the excitement. Check out surf documentary “Step Into Liquid,” by Dana Brown, son of the director of the iconic “Endless Summer,” Bruce Brown. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0308508/. I golf as well, and I agree that the joy is mostly about being outdoors – connecting with nature.

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  3. thanks for sharing- it’s like calling in sick to go surfing when it’s pumping, because we know there’s only a handful of opportunities in life where we will ever see and feel the ocean that magnificent

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    1. I can’t say I’ve called in sick. I did take a Monday off for a 3 day weekend to go surfing out of town, and everyone knew. Here in Florida, on the gulf, surf isn’t as consistent, but it does happen. You really have to live on the beach to surf it, so I understand the temptation. ✌️😊

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