A Depth of Feeling Coming into Focus

The beginning of surfing is a mess: a mess of whitewater, fumbling with wetsuits, tripping over leashes, foamy smiles, chaotic attempts, floundering, mishaps and sparks of fun.

I had a slightly revelatory time in the water the other week: had an hour when I caught every wave I went for. They were not, by any means, all successful pop-ups or rides - in fact only one or two decent. But something, for the first time in my ten short months of surfing: I had a feel for the wave. Something had come into focus more than ever before. I could feel the wave picking me up, I could time my paddle better: it was as if something of surfing had finally become clear, visible, palpable.

This feeling has taken months of surfing, reading, video watching and research - total obsession basically. But this really felt like I had touched a moment of clarity in the water and could begin to see how much of my previous surfing has been blurred. When you learn to surf it's all about repetition. Get in the water. Try and catch a wave. Do it again. Get standing. Do it again. Paddle, duckdive - do it again. And again...

In all this repetition at first you feel like it's all fluke, probablity, natural talent (obviously!) and luck. Basically: you don't know how you're doing it.

What crept up on me the other day was just fantastic - as if the centre of a blurred image had finally come into focus. Or, after a frantic fumbling in the dark, my fingers had finally come to rest on the light switch. Now I feel like I've got my foot in the door and have something really tangible to grow from. It's an exciting feeling - like when you catch your first green wave. (My next hope is that I start to get some real feel and control of popping-up!) It's clearly not just a long project – this surfing business – it's a lifetime's!

When you hire a board and have a crack at surfing you may love it. You tell people you've surfed. You probably don't know that at that point you haven't even knocked on the door of surfing, of surfing history, or a sliding life.


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