What surfing has meant to me

dsci0021As I enter my fifty second year as a surfer I came to consider all that the sport has meant to me and my life.

My first thought was of just how old I am. The second was of how blessed I am to still be enjoying it, especially in the manner I am still able to. I thankful to be able to still ride mostly short boards and in all of the conditions we are presented with here on the east coast.

To a certain degree I have always felt that surfing has saved my life or at the very least enriched it to a great extent. After nearly drowning as a child I didn’t for the longest time dare to even enter the ocean. On top of it all, coming from a very difficult home environment as a child, I also carried with me a very low self esteem and fear of so many things.

My first attempt at surfing, though meager at best, seemed to change something deep within me. I started to become more self assured, strong and self confident. Although the transformation did not happen overnight my continuing in the sport slowly and most definitely improved both my physical and emotional state of being.

It has been a bell weather presence in my life and has been a source of strength, joy and well being at the times in my life when I dearly needed those things.

Through the sport I have made great friends and relationships, been inspired to write and paint about the sport, been able to pass along the stoke of surfing to others through instruction, learned about the challenges our waves and oceans face and as such became compelled to act as an activist in their behalf and have even found employment within the industry.

Although I’ve never traveled extensively to surf, I have been blessed to have surfed the entire East Coast, The Gulf of Mexico, California and the Big Island of Hawaii and as such I do not in any way feel cheated.

While I’ve  had the opportunity to surf in waves to fifteen feet I’ve always been just as stoked to surf in two foot slop especially if it’s with my buddies. Sure it gets more difficult each year to surf in cold conditions but I’d rather be cold and not as agile as long as I’m in the medium.

I know for certain I would not try and stay in as good a shape if I didn’t surf, I certainly don’t think my mood would be as good if I didn’t and I do believe it keeps me feeling younger than if I didn’t.

As each year passes I understand I am getting closer and closer to the day when the wheels will fall off, per se, and I won’t be able to continue to surf. Somehow though I don’t think it will trouble me too much. After all, who can be sad if they were able to enjoy something so wonderful for so long. Besides, even if I can’t surf I’ll find some way to stay connected with the ocean and the sport.

I remember years ago when surfing at Virginia Beach seeing this older man who couldn’t surf anymore show up at the jetty. He had this very long board and was wearing what looked like foul weather gear. He would paddle out into the line up and just hang out there with the crew for a while then paddle in seemingly content. Now that’s a true love of the sport.

Thanks again for checking in and whether it’s surfing or some other thing you are involved with, never lose your stoke for it and be thankful for having it in your life.

Aloha, Paul

About authorpaulhayden

Author, artist, screenwriter, environmentalist. husband, father, surfer, surfing instructor, volunteer.
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