Other people’s words about … surfing
He tried to show me the basics [of surfing], but he made it look too simple. Surfing was in his muscle memory, in his blood, in his thoughts. It was like his shadow, simply part of him …
We got back into the water one more time, and the sea tugged me under and tossed me around under a wave, like a plaything, like it was laughing at me. I came up ready to go home, mouth full of salt, hair full of sand.
from Season of Salt & Honey
by Hannah Tunnicliffe
( p. 134)
I know a man who is a surfer. In his fifties now, he started surfing in his teens, catching a ride to the south coast with an older friend who had a driver’s licence.
Though I love the sea, I have a fear of waves, of getting dumped. Still, when I first came to know this man (nearly twenty years ago now), I wanted to give surfing a go. I wanted to see what made him love it so. I asked him if he could help me brave the waves.
So one day, we paddled out into the salt water, he on his surfboard and I on my boogie board, paddling hard. He set me up for a couple of waves. Each time, when the wave rolled towards me, he said, ‘Now!’ and then, when I froze, he gave my board a push, and away I went. I rode the wave towards shore, lying flat on my belly on the board as he’d shown me, and it was fast and terrifying and exhilarating all at once.
And I got it. I got what he felt out there in the ocean. I got the magic of it. The awe.
But I’ve never attempted it again. I can’t read the waves or the currents. I’m afraid of getting caught in a rip. I don’t understand the sea. I love it; I’m awed by it; but I don’t know it.
She gives me that sad, hopeful look that says [surfing] can be for everyone, should be for everyone. That surfing is the best thing in the world. Her strange, blue-grey eyes fix on me, like she wants to explain. I imagine her in the sea, like a fish, moving as though made for the water. She would know where to put her feet, how to balance, how to fall without hurting herself, without drowning. She’s probably one of those girls who rides the waves as though she’s dancing with the whole of the ocean; her and the water taking different roles, moving in different ways. The ocean leads and she simply responds.
I think, for me, the sea will always remain a beautiful, mysterious, unknown quantity. There are different ways of loving it, perhaps. Mine isn’t the way of the surfer, but it’s still there. It will always be there. I have lived by the sea for twenty years or more now, and the sand and the salt and the sea are in my blood.
And that is enough for me.
2 thoughts on “How (not) to surf”
Beautiful photos! My son’s girlfriend is a pro surfer (#32 in the world 🙂 ) and I expect she is like the girl in your quote, so at home with the sea. I am more like you, I admire it but I fear it, too. Not my medium. 😉
Nice to know I’m not alone on that 🙂