Well of course I am going to surf again, the very idea that I can not fills my being with a dread I can only hope you never feel. What I want to write about is something that is becoming more apparent to me as my surfing life goes on. It is that I should never surf again.
Quick Background: I first felt the motion/feeling/addiction of sliding down the face of a wave on my father's old windsurf board when I was 9 years old. I grew up in a small fishing town on the South Coast of England (which is in Britain) which rarely received swell of any real significance, except when it did. One of those days I just happened to be paddling (sitting on it and paddling with an old inflatable dingy oar) the old 'Vinta' windsurfing board into shore.
It was a stormy day and we would not have been in the water under normal circumstances, we didn't like the waves as they made it harder to go fast and that's all we cared about. The 'Vinta' was known as a tank of a board among windsurfing circles, and easily supported me and my brother, who was age six at the time, he was in front of me (lightest at the front) and we were heading to the shore when a freak wave caught us. The rest is history.
My whole life has been either trying my hardest to deny my inexplicable link to the ocean, or embracing it and I now, looking back, can see that the happiest and most real times I have had came when I managed to forget that feeling. The times when I was not controlled by the impossible and irresistible force that compels me back to the ocean. I know what I need to do, but I lack the conviction to do it. I need to forget about the ocean. I need to remember my relationship with the purest and most wonderful entity in a sectioned off part of my mind, like a dream.
Why, you might ask? What have I figured out? What has changed? If explain this carefully enough I think that some of you may find a parallel. If you do let me know.
Part One - The Addict
The Addict in me is my worst enemy, it can rear its ugly head at any time, I am most susceptible to succumb to the need is when I have just had a surf (in the last 1-3 days). I can get ratty if someone tries to get in my way of surfing. The Addict knows no one, it recognizes no allegiance, not friends, family, work. It needs what it needs and that is it. Sometimes the nearer I get to surfing I can feel the Addict shaking inside me, the fix is getting closer. I hate the Addict.
Part Two - The Holiday Epiphany
Just recently I had a holiday, an actual holiday that was away from the ocean, for a whole week. I decided to delete the wave forecast apps from my phone and not talk to any of my fellow addicts for that week. I decided to focus on my surroundings and talk to those around me. Essentially I was going 'cold turkey' on anything surf related.
It was bliss. I was the most relaxed I had been in about ten years (which was the last time I had spent any time away from the ocean). I did not have the constant reminder that I had to make a decision about surfing, did not have to worry about possibly missing out, planning the week's work and commitments around forecasts of potential surf. I liked it a lot. I liked a non-surfing me.
Part Three - The Todgers (Wankers)
Being able to take a step back from a problem often means that you will be able to see it more clearly. So after my realization that I liked non-surfing me, I thought about my life, my waves and what life has left for me. I pondered about the state of surfing now as opposed to the purity that I had been trying recreate from the age of 9.
When I first slid down the face of that wave on my dad's windsurfer board, I had not heard of professional surfing, Kelly Slater, Quiksilver, any surfing associations or leagues, I just wanted to feel that feeling again. Simple. That is all I wanted, and that is all I still want. People talk now about having role models who are professionals and careers from a young age. They say it's all about furthering the industry, but actually they mean lining pockets with cash.
Back in the bad old days, all surfers were friends, if you paddled out you would chat to the other guy out there, share waves and have a laugh. Today's reality is a touch sadder, it seems that the other guys in the line up are looked on as competition for 'your waves'. If you try and talk to anyone you get looked on as a weird dude, like why is he trying to talk to people. Maybe it's not them but their 'Addicts' inside them. Maybe I am being too harsh. But maybe there are just more wankers who surf today.
Part Four - Am I Talking Bullshit?
Well, the thing is, I am back from holiday now and I have been trying to keep away from the sea, not look at the forecast or talk about surfing myself. I realize that I write about surfing for a living, so I am living dangerously. I have also to tell you that I have failed. I got a call from a friend about the surf and immediately dumped the company I had at the time, threw my favourite board in the van and disappeared in a cloud of dust with 'The Addict' at the wheel. He drove like a maniac and I could feel the shaking expectancy of being able to surf again return to the surface of my being. It was over, I had lost.
So this is why I know I should not surf again, but I know I always will, until I pluck up the courage to move to a landlocked country and delete any whiff of surfing from my life. I am currently like a meth addict trying to sell to others whilst trying to give up myself. It is the definition of impossible.
Thanks for sticking with me through this ragged wreck of an article. The idea has been to put it out there and see if anyone feels even remotely the same. If so, drop me a line on social media or through the website. Love to hear your thoughts.