I spent the better part of October and November bobbing around on a big piece of fiberglass in the Pacific Ocean contemplating life and, every so often, catching a couple waves. Lots of times this sitting and surfing happened against a backdrop of cotton-candy skies to close out what had almost always been a pretty stellar day of keeping it extremely real in places like Puerto Escondido (Mexico), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) and Santa Teresa (Costa Rica). It’s the sort of scene that inspires gratitude and reflection so here, in this very blog, I have a few things to share about what I learned whilst absolutely nailing a 2 month surf vacay. (Disclaimer: I’m not even going to try to reign in the metaphors here. If you weren’t feeling my post about trees, I doubt you’ll get through the next 400+ words.)
1. Balance is everything: Too far to one side and you’re going to look like an idiot in front of everyone else who’s figured this thing out already.
2. Look to where you want to go: When you’re sitting at the crest about to drop in, look down the line to where you want to end up. If you stare into the well of the wave and focus on your fear of getting tossed and swallowed, ouch. That’s gonna suck.
3. Take turns: You can’t catch every wave, every time. Not only is it physically impossible, it’s not OK. Play fair. Be nice.
4. Celebrate the process: Remember how you never used to be able to walk or talk or control your own bladder, but then you learned how and now it’s all super easy, except when you’re drunk? Learning new things takes time and not everybody moves at the same pace, in the same way. Sometimes you just need to spend hours getting thrashed and humiliated in order to progress.
5. Pick your waves: Know what you can handle and what you can’t and be OK with that.
6. Go with the flow: You can’t control the size of the surf or the crowds at the beach or the fact that you broke your leash yesterday and the shop is closed on Sundays until noon. Is it really so terrible to have to spend a day eating fish tacos and drinking cold beer from the comfort of your hammock?
7. Actions speak louder than words, and are way less annoying: If you’re a good surfer, everyone will see you out there and remember you later. I promise. No need to tell me about it in line at the bar or while you’re ringing in my grocery order. If you’re doing something because you really want to, honestly, then just do it. If you’re doing it because you want to brag and make yourself feel bigger, better, faster, stronger, that’s why God invented Facebook.
8. We are tiny: The same waves I surfed in Mexico and Central America are still breaking, apparently, despite the fact that I’ve been gone for two months already. They were there long before I arrived and will continue to rock and roll long after I’ve left, whether or not I’m there to surf them and regardless of who else shows up. They’re not a corporation whose success or failure is dependant upon public opinion or the economy: They’re a natural phenomenon that I can’t even wrap my head around and their existence actually has almost nothing at all to do with me. I’m simply fortunate to have played in the waves for a little while.