When we try a new hobby or interest, we sometimes believe we need a sort of miracle to see that we have a gift or a certain talent to validate it and to motivate ourselves. That’s simply not true.
The first time I tried surfing was in 2005, with a friend of mine in Wollongong, Australia. The conditions were a bit rough and messy, I didn’t like it. The whitewash was powerful, and my swimsuit uncomfortable for this kind of sport, I think I took 2 waves, got washed out and I left the water. Thanks but no thanks. I’d say this first attempt was not quite successful.
I tried again though, 7 years later, in Vietnam, 2012. I booked a private lesson not far from Nha Trang. I tried to stand up on the board but I fell off, totally normal. But then I grabbed my hardboard (the teacher didn’t have soft boards) and I carried it back in front of me to turn it around. Wrong choice, wrong position, wrong timing. A wave hit me as I turned around, pushing me under the water. I rolled with my board, and the fins hit my face. I came out of the water with my lip and nose bleeding. One of the fins had just hit me between the eyebrows. I felt a little knocked out, the teacher was shocked. Obviously, that was it for the surf lesson, but I still had to drive my scooter to the nearest hospital which was about 30min away. I got 3 stitches, then later a black eye, and a swollen lip. People on the streets thought my partner was hitting me at the time. “No, it just happened while surfing”. Well little did I know at the time that one of the first rules of surfing is to never put your board in front of you when you’re making your way to the line-up. I tend to learn best from experience. Ahem.
You’d think I’d lose interest after that? Muahaha, nope. 2 weeks later, still in Vietnam but in another place, Mui Ne this time, I took private lessons with a very chilled Australian teacher. During one week, every day I woke up at 5.30am, drove to his shed and carried a huge soft board to the water.
I paddled out, paddled for waves, I fell off, tried again, but I was happy and I enjoyed myself. At the end of that week, I got one of the best memories of my life: I caught a green wave on my own and I rode it. Something I will never forget, the joy it brought, the soft slide, the calm sound as surfing on whitewash is noisy, on an unbroken wave it’s quiet. The teacher was so nice, he said: “That’s it, you’re a surfer now”. Wow.
I was still living in London though, so making surfing a habit was difficult. I only surfed again twice until I moved to Portugal in 2016 with the intention to make surfing part of my daily life. That’s when the adventure really started. Portugal is not the easiest country to learn, the Atlantic ocean is rough, the winds are strong, the reef doesn’t forgive, the water is a bit cold. I took lessons the whole summer of 2016 just to feel safe. And I haven’t looked back since then.
What an adventure it’s been, and still is. The best thing about surfing is that you can discover new places, new waves while doing a sport that you already know. I absolutely love that I have surfed in Cornwall, France, Portugal, and that the next one on the list is Spain. I love that each time I get in the water, it’s different. No session is ever the same. But it goes deeper than that.
I can’t even start to say how much comfort the Ocean has brought me over the years. The smell first, then the sounds of seagulls, followed by the incredible sight of a never-ending huge blue space is the true definition of life for me. I feel I can’t breathe if I’m not near it. The frequency of the waves, their sound brings such a powerful calm within me that for some time I struggled to find this inner peace when I was too far away.
But again, it goes deeper than that. I love the lessons the Ocean, this sport, and others teach me. The main lesson is that we cannot control the sea, and we cannot control the waves. It’s a difficult thing for us, humans, to accept that we are unable to control everything, especially in these modern times. So at first, we feel frustrated, we tend to put the blame on bad conditions, bad equipment, bad teachers, or bad waves. But the thing is, there is no bad wave. A wave is just a wave, it does its own thing. It was only requested by us that it’d be this height, this power, this speed. It’s us, as humans, who make the conscious choice to surf this wave or not. We feel we can surf it, we try, we fail. We’re disappointed, and so we lash out on the Ocean instead. But the truth is that we feel ashamed because we tried to get our power over something that is way too wild to ever be controlled. Taking the Ocean for granted is a mistake we make. It’s totally beyond us. Our sense of pride makes us believe that we should have power over the sea, that we should be able to control it like we ride horses. So many times, unfortunately, we’re being reminded that we don’t and that we never will.
Try to fight the Ocean and you’ll only end up fighting yourself.
It’s only when we have come to realise that the Ocean is only going to give us the reflection of our own state of mind that we understand the powers of surfing. I also fell into the trap a few times. I went into the water, feeling confident I’d get a lot of waves, that I knew how to surf by then. And I’d have a bad session, I wouldn’t be able to read the waves, I would fall off too fast, trying to do too much in too little time. I had to change my perspective. Now, I give thanks for the waves and for the Ocean before getting into the water. I tell myself that I am a beginner, today, like every other day. I accept that the Ocean will always be stronger than me, and that’s how I can connect to it. By surrendering first. I tell myself that I’m not here to win a battle, or to dominate the waters, but I’m here to learn, to share, to connect, to feel joy. Since then, even a session with no waves becomes a great one. And I feel so lucky to be able to swim in salt water, no matter my level of surf.
The Ocean ultimately teaches us about humility, simplicity, and connection. It’s a magical force that can soothe us as much as it can move us, but in all cases, it only has space for the truth within us. When we accept this and surrender to it and its powers, we become free. That’s when we become able to truly enjoy its gift, and then we get to ride our best waves.
For this layout, I used Paislee Press latest release, Most Memorable Templates.