“Give. Give more. Give what you didn’t get.” ~ Garry Shandling, comedian
Garry set his elbows on his knees and leaned toward the T.V., pointing. “See that? He’s totally in the moment. That look, you see it?” He paused the fight. We examined the look in Floyd Mayweather’s right eye: something beyond focused, beyond determined, just so… “He’s so fucking present,” said Garry. “He’s not in his head. Like you,” he added. “I’m just kidding. I’ll leave now. Wait, it’s my house…”
The break… The ring… The wave… The fight.
It’s an ecstasy that bleeds you. It’s the stigmata of…
“If in doubt, paddle out.” ~ Nat Young
Christian and I have been hitting a new spot closer to home. A couple days ago, he made the call to head back to this break that I have yet to understand. I love the wilderness there, but my hackles go up at the wave height, even though it can be soft.
It’s capricious and dodgy in front of the jetty, but the wave rolls for a hundred yards and when it’s working, the magic shoots through your marrow like a good drug.
“Here’s the strategy,” he said, his trucker hat on…
“I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths
and a great fear of shallow living.” ~ Anaïs Nin
Agatha Christie was a surfer.
Yes, the English mystery writer loved sliding the waves, and even was one of the first women to rock a one-piece swimsuit out on the water.
If you didn’t know this about her, neither did I.
“Forbearance in the face of fate, beauty constant under torture, are not merely passive. They are a positive achievement, an explicit triumph.” ~ Thomas Mann
Your mental health depends on surfing?
So does mine.
Your favorite break is empty because everyone is sheltering at home?
So is mine.
Let’s talk about why it’s important as surfers to form an alliance to shelter in place, and what you can do to ease the discomfort of not paddling out. There have been divisive arguments about this, and I’d like to set my rail right here, against my ottoman.
This is why you…
“Hark, now hear the sailors cry,
Smell the sea, and feel the sky,
Let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic.”
— Van Morrison, Into the Mystic
“The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears, or the sea.” — Karen Blixen, novelist (Otherwise known by her penname Isaac Denisen)
Surfing is sexy.
A quick scroll through images of waves on Instagram lulls you into a dreamy quixotic dream of magical blue liquid, curling in slow motion, plunging a nimble surfer down the line, easy as breathing.
Just stroll down the street of my local surf town, Encinitas, CA, and you’ll be met with compelling glimpses behind curtains of water as young (always young, btw) men and women poised on billboards and in shop windows showcase the appealing…
“I know what I have to do now. I’ve got to keep breathing because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
– Tom Hanks, from the film Cast Away
I stand in the parking lot in the eerie, predawn light. It’s a reverse twilight that paints the world in shades of silver, pewter, charcoal. Ghost palette. The moon in the west hangs like a burlesque dancer in the spotlight from the ceiling, one garter pulled up half way, messy and dainty, still young enough not to be old. She knows all your secrets.
Every morning I splash cold water on my eyes, then check the tides on my phone. I make a fresh cup of black tea, goat milk and honey before the sun rises, and sip out to the deck while my son sleeps peacefully in my bed.
I dream of the dark sea.
My son is 6 now. He can run as fast as me.
I remember breast-feeding him at 3 o’clock in the morning, how intimate it was, to hold him to my body, his urgent need, tiny fingers clenched, and my anxiety about whether I could possibly sustain the…
March 22, 2018. In my last dream of the morning, I see a text message from my surf coach Christian that says, “We’re going to a new spot today.”
An hour later at 7am, he calls me and says verbatim, “We’re going to a new spot today.” By 11am at low tide, Dog Beach is a piddling beach break. So we cruise over to Cherry Hill. It’s raining, a few plump drops from incontinent clouds overhead, and as cold as San Diego tends to get, hovering in the low 60’s. Water temp down in the mid-50's.
Mindset almost doesn’t matter…
It was 2 weeks before my 40th birthday, in October 2016, and I would carry the grief, confusion and previous ocean traumas I’d endured into the cold Pacific with me, shaken to the bone, but determined to overcome whatever I could, if anything at all.
I’d always wanted to surf. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, California, many of my friends (all dudes), drifted into home period at Pali High with wet hair having set their alarms before dawn to hit the waves before class. …