finding the time


Danger in the Shallows

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When I first began surfing, I was more comfortable near a sandbar, just in case I needed to feel something that wasn’t moving as much as I did on top of my board.  Deep water seemed scary.  Even now, it’s fun to launch my board from a standing position when my paddling arms give out.  Reasonably flat sandy beaches make that easy.

But you need to know there’s a downside to getting too comfortable in the shallows.  A big one.

I’m typing this today from my sofa with my left foot propped up on an ice pack.

This morning our local break was nearly nonexistent.  One-to-two foot waves breaking nearly onshore at high tide, and just enough activity on the outside to make us hopeful for some peelers when the tide headed out.  But, as usual, we had no time to wait.  This was the second time this weekend we had made it out. Yesterday’s trip up the coast had taken a good part of the day, leaving little time left before weekend chores came calling.  We were at the beach, therefore we would surf whatever we found.  We’re tough that way.  Big or small, we’ll surf it all–or at least try.

There weren’t a lot of waves to choose from, so we did our best to choose those that weren’t overhead shore pound and hoped for the best.  We each found a few, but there was really no choice but to ride them to shore…into the very shallow water.  We’re experienced at this, but as each of us caught a wave, the others kept an eye open to make sure the landings went well.  For the most part they did, but we each took a tumble or two.  We left after an hour or so, confident we had conquered all the waves there were to be had and happy to enjoy water warm enough to wear wetsuits sans booties.

On the way home, I noticed a twinge in my ankle. I vaguely remembered a particularly awkward jump off my board which didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.  A couple of hours later, here I sit, ankle on ice.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a surf related injury. Most of time they were accidents.  This was too, but totally preventable.

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It’s more than just the wave


Looking back, I can appreciate what it took to take those first few waves.  I learned a lot more than just how to stand up on a moving surfboard and take a ride.  I found out my competitive spirit was alive and I still had a little balance left in this 40+ year old body. I also learned that the years had finally taught me patience (which probably surprised my mother even more than me).  

Unless something drastic happens, like me winning the lottery and paying Kelly Slater or Laird Hamilton to be my personal surf trainer 24/7, I will never be a big wave surfer.  The small 2′-3’s, with occasional 4’s sets are fine by me.  But that’s okay. It took time, but I accomplished what I set out to do.  I learned to ride waves and enjoy the ocean again.  The friends I made were a great bonus. 

Next time you’re out and you see someone paddling furiously only to miss the wave, pearling their board, or executing a popup that looks like they are crawling across the living room floor, think back. You were there too once upon a time.  (If you’re like me, some days you still are.)  Don’t judge them on their ability, or lack of.  Look at the determination in their eyes and the smile on their face.

Categories: finding the time, learning to surf, patience | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Aquatherapy—it’s good for the soul.

Sometimes the schedule and the waves don’t see eye-to-eye. Last weekend, after a challenging work week, a session or two of surf would have been a welcome relief. But it was not to be, as the weekend brought washing machine conditions one day, and family obligations the next.

Tuesday, my BFF and I schemed in the early morning to make an appointment for an aquatherapy session immediately after work.

Finally, the magic hour arrived. I amazed myself on how quickly I changed from work gear and was on my way to the waves. The water was warm and the waves seemed to know just what I needed to melt the stress away. We left the beach tired, but happy, just as the sun started to drop.

Today I’m back at work, refreshed and busy as ever. You’ll note that look of concentration you see on my face when I’m in a meeting, or at my desk.

Of course, it might just be me reliving yesterday’s waves, and what I’ll do better next time.  I’ll never tell.

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Wave cams lie, but we don’t care.

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