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My View of Life Through Surfing

A man doing Yoga in the morning at the Santa Cruz Beach, with the pier in front of him, California, USA.

You might want to stretch before we jump right into the water…

I have a little thing for making analogies of what I do in comparison to my life, or just life in general. Today, I’ll speak about Surfing cause I went yesterday for an early morning session. This are all analogies, be open minded to my view.

Young surfer riding a wave at Playa Jaco.

Young surfer riding a wave at Playa Barrigona.

Ok, I think I’ll start with a blunt-straight out-comparison; we are all surfers. The sea: life. Simple, that’s it.  No, I think that’s not it. All of us, when we are born, are handed a “neewbie” board; a big longboard, and helped out by the people around us to conquer our fears of the sea. Water will splash, always, but we’re mostly never alone; if we fall, we’re picked up, and placed again on track.

We get used to the water; balance, calmness, and at first never even sent to the big waves, that would be chaotic and outrageous! As life passes, and we head on to other stages of life, our board get’s smaller; you’re helped out, but parents usually start letting you paddle by yourself. This is all the “boring” part. You look at the sea, and say, “Wow, I want to be like THAT surfer, and want to get THAT wave.”, but you try going out on your own, and acknowledge that you haven’t got the skills yet to be on your own. It’s fine, you’re floating around, exercising, taking breaks, it’s always that process for everyone; HEY! nobody is born skilled.

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It’s always a process.

Breath in, breath out; balance, learn to duck the foam. Problems are not as big as they seem. You’re still living at your parent’s and even if they look as if they are strong for you to fall, you’ll be ok.

Then comes the fun part. You’re in the section where waves are not that big, but manageable. You turn around, and start paddling, gain speed, and like your parents taught you, boom, you’re up! Still a bit twitchy, and maybe only straight, the wave doesn’t last that long, you fall. You’re in the water again. “Hey! I like that! I’m happy, I finally got a wave!”. Probably your struggle in school start to re-organize, getting better grades, probably relationships start to strengthen, other friends are also in your place, so they help you out, and you’re there, getting that wave, knowing that some day, you’ll be out there with the pro’s.

A woman using a standing on a Paddleboard on the ocean at Laguna Beach, California, USA.

It’s still a process; it takes time.

That was your first wave, but you’ve gotten used to the speed, the movement, getting tips and tricks to general living. Maybe falling down a couple of times help you understand why everything had happened, and then you can duck better, and get up faster. So getting waves and confronting problems seem to get easier. But there’s always a trick. The sea is never the same. Currents start to move faster, winds blow harder, waves get bigger, even when you’re not completely inside. That’s when you’ve got to have your chin up, and remember that your board, what you have accomplished, how you have grown to bewill be your lifeguard, and not anyone else. Except, that is, if problems are obviously too big to handle and you reach out for that help towards friends, or maybe they see you falter.


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Keep your friends close; they will bring joy and seek help if you need it.

Remember always that those who get big waves, or those who you see thrashing those cuts have all passed through this process. None of them got that small board and headed to the water and started ripping it at once. They have probably had to pass through the worst nightmares of currents, winds and “big Kajoonas” to be where they are. Always you have to keep in mind that once you start getting waves, breathing becomes easier. You feel that joy of being a part of nature and understanding that you have no control over the sea, but you choose to have control over

Sets* will come. Once you see a big wave coming in, you have to make a choice, get it, or paddle towards it to duck it? Well, that mostly depends on where you’re standing, but remember; most sets come in 3-4 waves, so be weary that behind that one, another one will hit. Your cold mind will help you not to despair. And then, if you take any of those waves: look left, look right, is there anyone getting it already? which way will you take? Will you use that set of problems to your advantage and let them make you stronger, or are you going to just wait there for them to hit you and keep you underwater for some seconds? 

The right conditions will set at the right time. Take breaks. Breathe, sit on your board and stretch. We all have the capacity to ride them waves. Some of us just do it for the fun of it, the adventure. Some of us want to get better always and are trying to re-invent their game. It’s your choice who you want to be and what decisions to take.

 DSC_5532Always enjoy your ride.

What have I learned through surfing?

 Well, I’ve learned that through all adversities of live we have a choice to make: getting sunk inside our heads, gasping for air, or calming down and let everything flow; no problem will sink you down forever and calmness will arrive. I’ve also learned that The Sea does not have to be feared, it has to be respected. Currents will always bring you back to shore, just never get tired with fear if a wave break your leash and you’re left floating. Do exactly that: float, relax, you can start again when you’re in shore, safe.

I have also learned a very important thing. In the sea, there are sharks, and crocodiles (at least in my country). Be weary of both, but be scared only of crocodiles. Sharks are those people who know the ways of life and that have lived long enough to swim about, scaring out everyone with their intimidating power and jaws. But sharks bite only rarely (You have a 1 in 63 chance of dying from the flu and a 1 in 3,700,000 chance of being killed by a shark during your lifetime.). Crocodiles, instead, eat everything they see; they will take you down the moment they have you in their eyes. Those are the people that look calm, but try to take the best of you and sink you for their pleasure or just to be on top. Distinguish between both and remember to, even though they might not attack, have your defenses up, be ready to paddle like there was no tomorrow.

 

What I mostly love about surfing is that every time I head out of the water, I feel lighter, stronger, breathing fluent, tired but in a good sense. My friends will be waiting for me and we will share that joy, smiling back at the wipe-outs and how we struggled out there, but never faltered. We have each other, and we know ourselves better after each session.

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It’s impressive what you can do once you’re there, enjoying the ride.

*Sets are a group of 3-4 waves, generally, with the biggest size after some time of “average” waves. It depends on the the tide, the beach, and they vary in size, but they are always the biggest ones. I try to compare them with those times around when you feel like you’re going to die with so many “negative” things happening around you. You won’t, I promise. They are just tests to make you take better choices, and make you stronger.

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