Kook 101: Learning to Ride the Waves of Life

There’s one thing I can say with absolute certainty that I know about surfing- it isn’t easy to learn.

Emphasis on the NOT part. So far from easy that it almost seems impossible. Like, a constant feeling of knowing you’re doing everything wrong but having no idea how to do the right thing. I mean, how in the hell do those professionals make it look so damn effortless?

If you’d like to raise the already steep learning curve of surfing, just wait until you’re 30-something to begin the whole process. Ok, technically I might have been 29 when I took my first lesson, but close enough. My confidence was far from that of the carefree kids [known as ‘groms’ in surf lingo] who don’t think twice about making complete fools of themselves.

Unfortunately as you get older this incredible gift of childhood, that sweet feeling of not giving a single fuck about what anybody else thinks about you, slowly fades away. I miss the feeling of being so completely absorbed in what you’re doing that everything and everybody else around you becomes a part of the background.

My experience of learning to surf has been considerably different than that of the blissfully unaware groms. It’s been more along the lines of a completely awkward, constantly questioning, totally self-conscious kook. A beginner through and through.

I wasn’t fortunate enough to grow up near the ocean, otherwise I’d like to think I’d be far beyond this kook phase and already shredding giant tubes on a big screen. At least I grew up in Michigan, surrounded by lakes, so I’m a decent swimmer. But beyond that my water skills and knowledge are pretty obsolete.

Thankfully it only took that very first microsecond of riding a wave to get me hooked. Chasing that feeling time and time again is what makes all the nerves wash away with the ocean. Not to say that I don’t still have my fair share of kooky moments. Most of the time I still feel completely clueless! But my love for the ocean, the incredible surfing community, and that moment of finding the sweet spot in the wave, overrides even my worst wipeouts.

That’s life though. You have to somehow find the courage to keep going; to push through the tough awkward moments in hopes of finding happiness on the other side. Just as the ocean ebbs and flows, so do the peaks and pits of life. Even when the challenges don’t result in success and you aren’t rewarded for your efforts, you keep going. The low moments are like the low tides, they come and they go. Never let that stop you from putting on your wetsuit, waxing your board and getting out there for another go.

There’s still plenty I need to learn and conquer before I would really consider myself a surfer, but I’m working on that. Slowly and surely. I’d like to think that if I ever get around to living somewhere near the ocean where I could surf every single day, then maybe it will all come together for me. Until then I’ll just have to learn to enjoy each and every wipeout just as much as I enjoy those precious moments on my feet.

After all, I’ve heard time and time again that best surfer in the lineup is the one having the most fun.