Poking around in the all-consuming passion with which surfers hunger for their next wave, I can’t help but be inspired to think about art, innovation and the quirky thoughtfulness that makes us humans, human. International Surfing Day will take place on Saturday, June 23rd….the beach is the perfect place to spend the day. This year http://ct.surfrider.org/ will celebrate ISD in Milford, CT. …There will be surf lessons/demos, surf bands…and much, much, more! ”
Surfing may well be the world’s purest form of recreation. It is athleticism that does not require a man-made arena. It pits the human body against a rhythmic, unpredictable force that challenges its scale and its limits. It unites people around the world in ecological awareness and a self-interested activism that is, therefore, authentic. Bonus: aesthetically, it is beyond beautiful…it is breathtaking.
Like Zen Buddhism, surfing seems to inspire people to wax philosophical (unavoidable pun) about an existential state that defies articulation. “Step Into Liquid, ” a film that is less of a documentary and more of a sensory feast (available on Netflix Instantwatch), includes interviews with several of the world’s outstanding surf posses. Three brothers, for instance, traveled to Ireland and set up a surf clinic where Catholic and Protestant children could be together, both in their element.
Surfers are not competitors in the traditional sense. Sure, they occasionally want to “best” each other, but what they seem to be mostly questing after – and what we miss in other sports when it is lacking – is the essence of excellence. Hence, statements like: “Surfing is not a lifestyle. It is life…style is optional.” And, “Surfing is not a matter of life or death. It is more important than that.”
Science tells us waves are an energy transport phenomenon, with cross-cutting properties regardless of medium. Throughout the universe, wave nature surrounds and envelopes us. In approaching the ocean, a surfer is concerned more with its energy than with its matter. Is it too big a stretch to try and make a connection to today’s workers in the new economy dealing more now with “ideas” than with “stuff?” Aren’t we all trying to ride the waves in one way or another?
Every project, every flow of work contains some rhythmic unpredictability. It is a pattern we cannot escape, so we might as well bring to it our agility, a deep appreciation for others’ agility and a spirit of contagious courage. We may as well try and get chaos down to a human scale where we can have fun with it.
My friend Ellen, who lives nearby in our shoreline community in Connecticut, has this voicemail message, one of the best consolation prizes I’ve encountered for missing someone who’s unavailable:
“We can’t control the waves, but we can learn how to surf. Surf, baby, surf!”
I hope you will celebrate International Surfing Day with me on June 23rd by mastering whatever waves you may encounter. Even better, why not do a little traveling in search of the challenge of bigger, riskier and more awesome ones?