I wrote it before and I’m going to write it again: if you are on my pages in search of something interesting to read, don’t forget to check on Rebecca’s blog “Making friends with the neighbours”.
The web is flooded by useless surf blogs that only have fancy pictures. It seems like people have the need to appear and be somehow recognised, but they want it with the minimum possible effort and zero engagement.
Instead, Rebecca writes. A lot. And she is a pleasure to read. She focuses on female surfing and the issues around it. But even so, there are so many things I can relate to in her texts.
Recently she has been very ‘productive’, and she made me think.
These posts stand out for me: ‘The Ocean doesn’t care’ and ‘Sitting wide’. And partially ‘Stupid women’.
Reading them makes me feel a range of emotions so wide I wasn’t able to write a single meaningful comment. I had to stop and think. And read again. Think more.
The fact is, she put into words a lot of things that I go through while surfing. Things that I write as well (but not as well!). Things that I think as well, and things that I don’t think.
Rebecca is from Byron Bay but she has been living in Brisbane for a number of years now.
And she’s giving me the impression that she is going through, or she has gone through a transformation in her mind: from being a local surfer to being a commuter surfer. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that she is finally writing as someone who’s not living in front of the beach anymore. (Here I use the term finally as: I can finally see ‘a local’ understanding me.)
Even if she wrote about the lineup problem and commuting before, it’s like now, all of a sudden, she’s putting all the pieces together and saying: being a commuter surfer is bloody hard! Commuter surfers work harder than the others!
BTW, this is my opinion only. This is only how I perceive her writing.
And so, to me, it’s liberating!
My surf mind is having a party.
It means that what I’ve been living and feeling, and writing, in my own little solitary surf world, finds recognition, or confirmation, in the words of a proficient surfer that has a story, a background, knowledge and an understanding of surfing that I may never have.
Here are some sentences from those posts that stood out for me:
'Getting shit waves might not have too much of an effect when you can surf all the time, but when it's rare that you get into the sea, it can really bite.'
I never thought that getting shit waves could not have much effect on a surfer. To me it sounds impossible, as my surf experience is always being one of one shot only, then wait another 6 days, at least.
'..how surfing every day can make you even hungrier and less appreciative of waves than people who get to the coast to surf much less often. And yet, I saw these people - me included - treated as though they'd given something up! As though they - we - weren't real surfers.'
This sentence hurts me. It upsets me. I can’t stand the thought of my commitment to surfing being ridiculed by such a weak argument. Not after all my bloody, tiring, never ceasing bargaining with my wife and friends and commitments. It’s an insult. My surfing translates into such a mental and physical effort that their surfing looks like a lazy, random past-time. Believe me. It really hurts.
'.. it also means that belonging to a place is a bit different, and seems to be more based on going to a place, rather than claiming a place.'
I like this. Belonging by going to a place. And it’s true. I’m deeply in love with a lot of the places I go surfing. I can’t stop looking at the mountains, rivers ’ mouths, skylines, trees, colours and all. I got to know pubs, cafes, restaurants, parking lots, streets, shortcuts, rocks, currents, tides, waves, showers, toilets, locals(!) and all.
I really feel I belong to those places.
'Getting waves when you live away from the coast isn't easy. It is a hard won prize, based on decision and effort. When you're working a lot (by choice!) then going surfing means taking a day off or waiting for the weekend, or not seeing your friends, or not getting things done around the house, or not sleeping in when you're dog tired, or missing a deadline, or myriad other things that you have to decide not to prioritise, when surfing means all of that, well, surfing means a lot.'
Exactly. A lot lot.
'I was sitting wide for more reasons than my board and my ability though. I was sitting wide because I don’t like being in the thick of a hassle-heavy lineup. I don’t like fighting for waves, I don’t like having to win them. I surf because I don’t like competitive or team sports. I surf because I like just being out in the water, in nature, on my own terms.'
Rebecca made my think about this and I discovered that while I hate the busy lineup attitude, I’m not being part of that partially because I’m not confident enough. If a fairy would give me exceptional skills overnight, I’d probably go there to take my revenge and satisfy my ego. (I’m just a human). Then, to my credit, knowing myself, I’d do it only if I’m desperate. And I wouldn’t enjoy it that much.
Sitting on the shoulder has always been my one and only option. And while I’m trying to surf better, I’m also trying to maximise my wave count like Rebecca says. But when the crowd is big I’m also so desperate and impatient that often I go for the wrong one, wasting sets, time and energy.. Still a lot to learn here.
'Sitting wide has taught me how to surf outside a lineup, and to value things other than status or performance. It’s helped me find more patience in my surfing, to expect less, and to make more room for other people with less confidence and skill than me. Out wide, the stakes are lower: take offs are less critical, the water less crowded and there are fewer egos. Not always, but mostly.'
Funny. As mentioned above, sitting wide has always been a constriction for me. When I know is going to be busy I don’t expect much, but my absolute need for a good wave still makes me unhappy. Until it happens. And when it doesn’t happen, I’m really down.
Then, yes, don’t take me wrong. I love smiling people in the water and I smile a lot, believe me. I never take two waves one after the other because I’m absolutely aware of the needs of my neighbors (just like mine). And sometimes I resist the urge of giving people advises.
And sometimes I can’t help to give a compliment to someone else (when watching them makes me feel happy).
But I’m not sure if I can say, like many people do, that the Ocean thought me something.
I don’t know. Maybe I learned that I could be a better person?
I learned that surfing, and ALL aspects of life around it is/are hard?
'I don’t have respect for people based on their surfing alone.'
'For me, the best surfer in the water is someone who gets waves, but leaves waves for others, who take pleasure from watching others have fun, who doesn’t surf at the expense of others.'
'Sitting wide helps me be a better surfer. It helps me see more, understand more, know more. It helps me be more patient and expect less. It helps me better appreciate the waves I get, and to take more time to appreciate being in the sea.'
You can’t believe my sense of release/relieve when I’m finally there.
Thanks for giving me things to think about, and perspectives, and direction.