I used to get the urge to take a slab of foam and ride it down a wave, so I’d do it. I still get that urge. A lot. I’m forced to deal with the urge like never before, so I’m getting chummy with it. It isn’t the urge to follow your big brother, nor the urge to go with the crowd in hopes of being cool, nor the urge to become really good at something, nor the urge to outperform an opponent, nor the urge to fulfill a contractual obligation, nor the urge to make your homeboys proud, nor any other stupid reason I’ve ever stood atop a slab of foam and slid down a wave.
Whatever it isn’t, the urge is on. By 10am on Saturday, I’ve been to the beach four times, and not because I like the beach. Who does? The beach is nothing without the sea. The only thing the beach has going for it is the view. You never see a golfer hit into a bunker and pause to dig his toes into the sand. But plop any yokel on a beach towel and they’re stoked for eternity. Sand is a nuisance, but the sea makes it appear a worthwhile destination.
Anyway, for the second straight weekend, I’m faced with good, clean, warm waves just steps from my front door.
Finally, I swim out. I watch a couple goobers do everything in their power to blow perfect setups, but the waves are too faultless. I bob in the impact zone, ducking my head under lips for a peep. Is this satisfying the urge or making it worse, I can’t tell?
I’ve tried to replicate the feeling during the recent wave-spell known as autumn. Sticking my arm out the window on the interstate isn’t the same. Swerving my bike to ride beneath an overhanging tree branch is useless. Laying into a carve on a skateboard in the road feels too manufactured.
Thanks goodness for work. For eight glorious hours (aside from the times I’m checking my Surfline app or peeking at a heat from Trestles or Hossegor) I’m afforded a hiding place. My mind is occupied with learning plans, and IEPs, and SOLs, and PLCs, and PLPs, and ESLs, and SISs, and IPTs, and…WTF?!
Now I remember one of the reasons that satisfying the urge was my priority. It’s my way of saying FU to the BS. We all need that sort of outlet – an activity, pleasure or pasttime that enables us to disengage from the futility of trying to win the game of life, navigating the endless onslaught of shit, being “successful.” We have to be able to say, Hey life, FU!
Everybody has a FU. For some it’s drugs or alcohol or just going crazy, anything to tune out the BS. Surfing is my FU, and this year I’ve FU’ed my FU.
As of a month ago, I was winning. The surf had been below average for the year, and I had this challenge firmly by the balls. I was cruising into the final turn and looking towards the home stretch. But as the best waves of the year have since rolled off without me, I’ve begun to resent this entire project. Missing a day of surf is no biggy, but missing a year feels like my world has been pulled from beneath me.
Just as I realize that I need a shot of reality, reality obliges. On a Sunday morning bike ride with my son, reality pulls a Ray Rice and coldcocks me square in the jaw. We pedal smack into the JT Walk, a fundraiser for ALS named for my friend Josh Thompson who contracted the disease eight years ago. ALS has rendered Josh a prisoner within his own body, and his friends and family organized the walk to raise money and awareness. It raises my awareness that to whine about not surfing, with so much to be thankful for, is beyond lame. You won’t hear me do it again.