Sometimes taking a step back from surfing for other pursuits can actually make you a better surfer.
It was a fishing line that saved my life. A wisp of monofilament thread, just a hairsbreadth in width, nearly invisible to the naked eye, about as insubstantial as physical objects get. Nevertheless, it was strong enough. When I reached out and felt that tiny bit of clear plastic thread, I grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. The line and the rod it was attached to pulled me up from a dark and unpleasant place. I held on tightly and the line hauled me toward a light—a bright, shining future full of vibrancy, promise and renewed life.
Wait, shoot, sorry about that. I meant to say a fishing line saved my “surfing life,” not my, you know, life life. Although, to be honest, for quite awhile I’d had trouble telling the two apart. That was sort of the problem, actually.
Surfing had taken up so much of my daily existence, it began setting the tone for pretty much every facet of my being. If the waves were good and I had plenty of surf time, I was happy, (relatively) fulfilled, experienced a deep and anchored sense of purpose and just generally felt like myself. I’d skip up and down the beach like Pat O’Connell in “The Endless Summer II” when the waves were pumping, even.
But if, and when, the surf was bad or I just couldn’t surf for one reason or another, I’d become listless, irritable, bored, deeply dissatisfied, concerned that my performance level was slipping, envious of surfers in other places who enjoyed more consistent or higher-quality waves. My wife would become justifiably annoyed with my moping. In other words, I behaved like a typical hardcore surfer, if one who was unusually dedicated to the pursuit—plus, working at SURFER, it was kind of my job to surf a whole bunch and to think about it all the time.
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Volume 59, Issue 8