It’s the middle of February and the Christmas blub still hangs dubiously over your waistline. The swell has been gigantic and there has been little or no chance to surf during the winter months, no chance to equalize the extra calorific intake of beer and food over the cold solstice. You know you need the gut to go before the shorts and t-shirts shed the confines of the closet for the spring months. The toil has to start now, you need to get in the water, and fast. You make little promises to the druids and other deities that if they bless you with surf you will not squander it. You will be vigilant of the forecast and conditions, you promise and plead, knowing the only other option is some very boring form of exercise (which is anything apart from surfing). You wait…
With your surf radar turned up high, almost to screeching, you become as twitchy and stiff as a coiled cobra. The slightest rumour of surf and you are in the van, wheels spinning, compass sniffing out the swell and wind combo needed for a blissful slide.
The disappointment of messy, angry winter sea reality sinks in. The rumour was just that. No surf today. This disappointment you know. Is it time to dust off the Reeboks and join the flab shedding thousands on the running path, feeling like a normal member of society, a mouse trapped in a wheel? No, you are not ready to throw the towel in…
You will wait until the call goes out again, until the spotlight shines on tubular perfection or cutback alley. These times are to be endured, you tell yourself. Time for head down hard work, don't squander a second, give yourself a head start for when the swell comes. It’s difficult. As you sit in your chair the fatty deposits around your waistline do a shuffle, reminding you of their existence and your need for waves. You push the thought of a Reebok shod sweat session to the back of your mind.
Ten agonizing days later, it happens. The swell falters for a day and a half. The wind plays ball and the fragile, ugly sacks of mostly water (humans) can again pursue their ridiculous active fascination with being propelled by moving slices of energy in water. You will feel it again. You are robing into your rubber playsuit, it feels dry and tight. Your gut reminds you of those extra beers again, but it can’t touch you now, you are going to be free of it soon. You are going to surf.
Paddling out you feel alien. Something that felt as familiar as putting one foot in front of the other now feels detached. You have to think about everything. Every stoke. The salty buoyancy seems top heavy. You can’t read the waves. What has happened? You paddle. No strength. No power.
Blowing like a dragon who has lost his fire, you paddle for position, desperately attempting comprehension of the lineup. Strength and endurance having left you, one comes to you. Your instincts kick on. The primeval surfers’ reactions muster as your cognitive mind salivates in preparation. The wave is there. It’s the one.
You surf. You recharge. Life suddenly finds its clarity again. Sucked back from the grey path of normality and back on the mental pedestal of the surfers’ high. Thoughts and spirits elevated you paddle back out, muscles complaining and remembering, you catch a fellow’s eye who has been through the same. You remember there are others in the world. Someone makes a joke that you look like a penguin in your fat black suit. You laugh. You are back. Surfing.