After a couple of decades of surfing and traveling, and writing about surfing and traveling, these are six lessons that I use every day.
1. The struggle is the joy.
Videos and films make surfers look like we’re always cruising around, carefree, on crystalline waves, no work involved. But extremely little of each surf session is spent actually standing up on your surfboard on a wave—maybe 1 percent. Most of the time you’re paddling until your shoulders feel like they’re being cattle branded. If you’re looking to have a good time, it’s essential to find a way to enjoy paddling, or at least good-naturedly bear it. So surfing is life. The good stuff—chocolate and great sex and weddings and hilarious jokes—fills a minute portion of an adult lifespan. The rest of life is paddling: work, paying bills, flossing, getting sick, dying. But nobody ever found lasting joy from being fed beauty and riches and ease from a silver spoon. The sea has taught me that if I’m clear on where I’m going and why it’s good, the struggle is the joy. Plus, the burn helps you enjoy the good waves even more.
2. Celebrate. Let go.
Because those exceptional waves come along only once in a blue moon, I think it’s important to celebrate them. Hoot, high-five, shake your butt. Too-cool-for-school stoicism isn’t any fun. Recent neuroscience shows that the more positive emotion we bring to an experience, the more neurons fire and wire together, leaving our brains more optimistic and open. The flip side, however, is that if the waves are perfect today, you can bet a storm is coming. Clinging to good conditions is like trying to hold the sea still. It leads to frustration. So dance, sing, toast. Then let go of its ever happening again.
3. Never give up. Do question your approach.
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Two Meanings of “the Body Keeps the Score”
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NOW THAT WE’VE BEEN forced to stop, it’s easier to see how speed thwarts us. For when we become entranced with how quickly things move, we stop listening to what matters. This is how worry feeds itself, how it fills us with psychic noise.
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Azim Khamisa, the Tariq Khamisa Foundation
“SUSTAINED GOODWILL creates friendship. Sustained friendship creates trust. Sustained trust creates empathy. Sustained empathy creates compassion. Sustained compassion creates peace,” states Azim Khamisa, articulating his Peace Formula.
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Maybe you’ve come across one of those bumper stickers that reads Let That #$!% Go, or you’ve seen a T-shirt with the same expression and a serene image of Buddha. But how to let go?
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60 Years Ahead
We had a whole plan for this year. Funny, right? Surfer's 60 year anniversary volume was going to be filled with stories nodding to SURFER’s past, with cover concepts paying homage to the magazine’s most iconic imagery. Our new Page One depicts something that’s never happened in surfing before, let alone on a prior SURFER cover. And our table of contents was completely scrapped and replaced as we reacted to the fizzing, sparking, roiling world around us. In other words, 2020 happened to SURFER, just like it happened to you.
Breaking the Waves
What has life under lockdown taught the greatest surfer on earth? That switching it up was exactly what he needed.
A World of Adventure
Epic Trips on All Seven Continents
How To Sail In Big Waves
Toby Heppell finds out about the best rough weather tactics to keep you Sailing for speed, comfort, safety and enjoyment
When Surfing Isn't Enough
Surfing seems like it should be a salve for mental health problems, so what happens when it isn’t?
A Podcast for Shred Heads, Wax Heads, Kooks and Barnies
Ain’t That Swell co-hosts Jed Smith and Vaughan Blakey discuss their wildly funny and utterly Australian audio episodic
Bianca Valenti: I'm A Competitor And I Like To Win
Bianca Valenti didn’t plan on becoming the face of the fight for equal pay in surfing, but when it comes to the advancement of women’s big-wave surfing, she’s not one to back down
Rediscovering The Art Of The Surf Film Premiere
“Self-Discovery for Social Survival” turns the afterthought that is a modern surf film screening into a legitimate artistic happening
Taking The Path Of Most Resistance
Almost 30 years after first exploring the Alaskan coastline for waves, Josh Mulcoy returns to learn that there are still discoveries to be made