10 Ways Surfing Can Change Your Life
Surfing Can Change Your Life
Surfing changed my life, and I’m not even a good surfer. I started surfing when I was 34. I have always been enamored with it, even if I didn’t know why. I guess it is the concept of being propelled forward by a pure force of nature that tugged at my inner being in a way that few things ever have. When I am not in the water, my thoughts often drift back to being there. Those thoughts have evolved into a list of ten reasons why surfing is so special and the impact it can have on anyone willing to jump on a board and paddle out into where the land meets the sea to ride a wave.
#1 : You become more in tune with our earth’s cycles.
Quick, tell me where the moon is in it’s cycle right now… at a loss? That’s not to say that I’m always on my toes, but the more you surf, the more you learn to become innately aware of lunar cycles, high tide, low tide, sunrise, and sunset as it effects the tides and therefore your daily life. Wind directions based on the daily heating and cooling of the Earth and ocean swells coming from storms across the globe affect your daily routine. Having this connection with the planet and its cycles brings one in tune with the world around us in a way I never realized possible.
#2 : You watch the sunset way more often.
Maybe it’s just me, but the ritual of watching the sun crest below the horizon is awe striking. For me, it acts as a reminder that we are all spinning through space around a huge ball of fire. It’s an easy fact to forget as our daily routines get so busy and life in general gets crazy. When I’m floating on my board, outside of the break where it is quiet, watching an unobstructed sunset before taking one more ride in for the evening, I find myself incredibly calm and centered.
#3 : Your skin thanks you.
Sure, lots of surfing takes place in colder climates in wetsuits, but for the most part beach goers are more tan than not. Too much sun is of course a very bad thing, but the right amount of sun is very healthy with the Vitamin D it provides our bodies. Superficial as it may be, I enjoy being tan. I enjoy living in a warm environment where shoes and shirts are optional and being tan is an inherent part of that lifestyle. In addition to sun, the salt water has several positive effects on your skin. Nothing beats a little TICO* on your skin after a surf session.
#4 : Your body thanks you.
Surfing is an incredible workout. First, paddling through the waves in order to get outside of the break can be quite challenging, then there is intense paddling required to gain the momentum required to catch a wave, and let’s not forget the core strength, balance, and flexibility it takes to thrust your body from a lying position onto your feet while catching a wave. In my own experience, I lost 40 pounds the first year I started surfing. Simply put… how many out of shape surfers do you know?
#5 : You are reminded of your place in the food chain.
Humans in general have an inflated sense of their place, and we need to be reminded that we’re only the top dogs because we ‘cheat’. Set yourself without weapons next to a creature with highly evolved killing abilities and things change very quickly. Bobbing around in the ocean with your legs dangling down like bait in the water makes even the bravest individuals aware that at any moment, however remote the possibility, a shark could be charging from the depths below. Worrying about it doesn’t help at all, and peace is found in the realization that you have no control over any of it. Just let go.
#6 : You are humbled… repeatedly.
Ocean waves carry more power than most people realize, and when you are in them, you can get tossed around like a rag doll. Being flipped upside down and right side up and churned around like a washing machine on spin cycle, all whilst hanging onto a dangerous board with razor sharp fins ensures you’re going to get beat up. Call it the Fight Club effect, but there’s something so humbling about having your ass handed to you by nature. Experiencing the dichotomy of existing in an insanely chaotic environment while maintaing an almost meditative mindset brings enlightenment.
#7 : You become a more patient person.
To surf is to operate in the present. Patience seems to be a trait that is diminishing in our world these days. From road rage to fast food, I can’t relate to the fast paced lifestyle that seems to plague us as a society in general. What I do understand well is the human instinct that makes us try and control everything around us in order to maintain sanity, however illogical an instinct that may be. When surfing, you can’t control anything. You instead try and position yourself as best you can, but even then you are in a completely dynamic environment where only patience and persistence prevail.
#8 : You become more spiritual.
Much time in surfing is spent floating and waiting for the next set or the right wave. Now, you can’t just pull out your iPhone out and kill time… you have to watch and observe in silence. This is a form of meditation as you’re left only with your thoughts and the observance of mother nature in all of her glory, birthing waves as they grow to their apex and crash to their death. Such contemplations trigger a powerful and spiritual experience that everyone should have the pleasure of observing in his or her lifetime.
#9 : You’ll become closer to your family.
In a lineup you are likely to find surfers ranging from 8-year olds eager to catch a wave to 70-year olds cruising by on long boards. I remember one day in Costa Rica watching a family surf together. The mom on her short board and the dad on his long board with their ~5-year old daughter. I watched as they floated together until the right wave approached when, so very naturally, the dad and daughter caught the wave together. I was awestruck and have since been enamored with the idea of teaching my girls the joy of surfing. As the saying goes… Families that surf together stay together.
#10 : You become part of an amazing community.
Now, just because someone surfs doesn’t mean that they are a good person. There are also ‘local’ surfers who are down right evil when it comes to protecting the time on ‘their waves’. However, for the most part the global community of surfers consists of people who know the lessons in this article well. They are down to earth and globally minded. Once you earn a place in their community, you get to meet some of the most interesting, authentic people walking our earth today.
Has surfing had an impact on your life? What has the experience meant to you and why? Please share…