It’s strange that I follow surfing quite a bit, having recently spent a week in J-Bay for the J-Bay Open where the worlds top surfers descended on that small town to battle it out on one of the best waves in the world.
For me, surfing isn’t about catching a good wave. It isn’t even about being in the water.
It’s about a mindset, one that focuses on the small things and gains a huge amount of joy from them. Waves are complex yet simple, and although each wave is slightly different, they are essentially the same. No one ever gets bored of them though. People get bored of a lot of things, and yet they can surf the same spot in their hometown for a lifetime and each day they go out they get that same feeling. To me, that is absolutely amazing.
There were so many times in J-Bay where I saw parents and their kids going out for a surf, and it’s just the best thing to see.
I get too caught up in the internet sometimes, and I see some really cool content and then look at my life and think ‘Well…this is average’ I want to be driving like Ken Block and jumping out of planes with a wing suit when I see some of the videos I watch. Then I really think about it, and I realise I don’t want to be doing those things, but I just like seeing them. I’m quite content sitting in a coffee shop somewhere and observing everything around me. I’m content to sit on a beach and watch the waves and maybe catch a couple of photos.
If you base your life on what happens on the internet, you’re almost guaranteed to be disappointed. When you’re sitting at a desk watching people on YouTube do crazy stuff, you’re certainly going to want to go and do something crazy.
We went to a backpackers in J-Bay and we were chatting to some guy and smashing beers in our faces, and it was the most interesting time. There was some surf program on the TV, our group were divided between the bar and a table in front of the TV and we were trying to figure out what exactly this guy did. I never really got it because he never gave an exact explanation, but from what I gathered he had done voice over work for some surf video stuff. Anyway, it was just great to live in that moment. It was different as well, because that moment consumed us so much that I didn’t think ‘Ah, I wonder what’s happening on Facebook’ It’s the moments where I don’t think of social media that are the purest moments of my life.
They generally happen when I’m away from home. For whatever reason it is, I never feel 100% comfortable being in one place. I don’t know if anyone really does, maybe we just become used to it? I don’t like the notion of being in one place and having a certain label attached to me. In the city you’re this person with that name and that job title. That gets boring.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you had no identity? You know what, that guy at the backpackers may very well have had some cool story to tell about his career. He was foreign, and what if we consider that for that moment he wanted to just live outside of his life and have no ties to his work or to his real life? I love the idea of travelling mostly because you become no one. You’re just a fleeting moment in peoples lives, a bleep on their radar, a mystery that goes unsolved. I will never ever truly know what that guy in the backpackers does for a living. He may be famous. He may be unemployed and retired. There is something cool in not knowing.
On the second visit to the backpackers, I saw the same father and son playing a game of pool. They played quietly while the mystery man spoke loudly about whatever it is he was speaking about. At times I couldn’t understand him. It was a mix of his foreign accent and my drunkenness possibly. I don’t know. The father and son duo played quietly, focusing just on the simple pleasure of playing pool. I chatted to them a bit and they weren’t staying in the backpackers but they lived nearby and in the evenings they’d come to play pool. I mean, they could very well have stayed home and watched TV. They chose however to come and play pool at this backpackers. We chatted a bit about the surfing competition, about them surfing, about surf photography, and I left it at that. I didn’t ask what they do and they didn’t ask what I did.
Surfers are so intensely focused on the present moment that nothing else matters. It’s not a focus that they necessarily practice but it’s rather just their way of being. They don’t sit on the beach meditating to try and calm themselves. Surfing is just something that is calming. You can pinpoint anything calming back to nature. The surf life draws me in exactly because of that. In nature you don’t have to be anything or anyone, you can just be. Maybe the ocean draws me in because I’m a Pisces. Maybe the people draw me in because I want to be no one in a world full of labels.
Whatever it is, I’m pretty stoked I found it.