Monday, August 2, 2010


I’ve been watching surf videos but not enjoying them as much as I’d expected. While they're certainly easy on the eyes, there isn’t much connection between the pro surfing onscreen and surfing as I've experienced it so far. Because most shots depict surfers already upright on their boards, there are few visual cues as to how they got up there in the first place.

And, right now, getting up there in the first place is what I'm all about.

Fortunately, this weekend, our good friends were staying over and agreed to watch the kids while Brian took me to the beach for an actual, bona fide, one-on-one, 8:30-in-the-morning-before-the- wind-blows-out-the-waves, lesson.

With a divine and glassy surf before us,  Brian worked with me for about forty minutes on the proper way to go from lying on my stomach to standing on my board.  

If there's anything I can't stand, it's doing something wrong and not knowing exactly how I'm doing it wrong. From dancing, I know that, without feedback from someone more experienced, a beginner at anything can get stuck developing bad habits.  And given the clumsiness of my previous attempts at standing on my board, I've known I was doing something very, very wrong.

It turns out I was habitually shifting my weight to the rear. Popping up this way on a board that’s about to barrel down the face of a cresting wave automatically throws a person off-balance and “over the falls.” It took a lot of tries but, ultimately, I got the correct position with my weight on the front foot. As soon as I did, my body felt much more “surfer-like” – as if there was an invisible template carved by millions of surfers over time and I’d finally made the fit.

Surfboards are a lot more wobbly than they look, so popping up in the water is obviously a greater challenge than on dry sand.   

There is, however, a sensation of solidity that occurs when you’re in the right position to catch a wave that makes it easier to pop up at that moment than at any other time. The mush of the water’s surface disappears and it feels almost as if you’re on solid ground – but better. The force of the wave pushes you upwards, encouraging you to stand and practically doing half the work for you.  The wobbliness disappears and the potential materializes, even for me, even if only for a moment, for oneness between rider and board.

That said, I still haven’t made it all the way up - but I did make it to my knees, which is more upright than I’d gotten before.

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