Elemental Viewing

If you’re a surfer and, like me, you’re lucky enough to be currently living near the ocean,  then you spend inordinate amounts of time looking out to sea. After a few years of clocking up vast cumulative hours “checking the surf,” it’s the sort of pleasure that we just take for granted.  Whilst all of the non-surfers lock their gaze on the distant horizon and ponder the great questions of life, we stand there gauging the size and surf-ability of the waves, counting how many waves there are in each set and mentally mapping out the easiest route to paddle to the peak.   

Checking the surf

I have sometimes employed a “three turns” rule on the days when average surf conditions coincided with me having a lot of work to do; I watch the assembled pack of surfers for about five minutes and if any of them got in three good turns on a single wave then I paddle out and join them.  We’re not all lucky enough to be that picky.  My point, however, is that when we look at the sea as surfers we are observing and analyzing so many interconnected variables before making the decision to commit our time and energy to a particular spot.  For us the act of staring out to sea is a functional stage in our surfing routine, whereas for many it is a rare treat – a chance for them to take a short hiatus from their daily grind.  So the next time you pull up in the parking lot overlooking the beach and lean forward to check the conditions over your steering wheel and the steam from your cup of coffee, remember how enormously lucky you are:  Not only do you get to go surfing, but before you’ve even got your feet wet you get to spend a few minutes doing something that an awful lot of people categorize as rare “me” time.  By all means check the wind and time the gap between the sets, but at some point before or after your surf also take a few minutes to disconnect and just lose yourself in the view.  Because time is precious, and so is an un-interrupted view of the ocean.  

- By Mat Arney

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