February 25, 2015

Surfing: 5 Life Lessons from a Weekend Affair



Our country is a haven of world class waves boosting tourism faster than social media trends – well ok, not quite, but that’s not my point. Surfing is a fast growing sport with an equally rapid flourishing community. Anyone I know who’s tried it has given me nothing but positive feedback. I could never forget the feeling of riding my first wave. It was magical and gave me a high that was incomparable to anything I had ever done back then – and this was way before I fell in love. It’s unexplainable. Mixed feelings of thrill and awe bring chills to the back of your spine and signal your brain that you’re having the time of your life.

I am happiest when I’m in the water and on my board. I’ve had one too many wipeouts and battle scars, but the few picture-perfect rides make it all worth it. Over the years, I have grown fond of it. However, I realized that more than having a good time, surfing has given me more than I had ever hoped to get out of it. It changed me for the better and I’d like to tell you all about it. 

You Awaken Your Inner Environmentalist 
Being near the sea often brings a natural sense of love for nature. People are naturally drawn to water. It is the source of life and its energy and movement attracts almost anything. Immersing yourself in it is therapeutic. You are made up of 70% water and innately, you feel one with the sea. When surfing, you spend plenty of water time and you develop a love for the element that you have come to know as your playground.



You feel bliss every time you witness the setting sun and feel the warmth of an orange blanket enveloping you as you stare into the endless horizon. You will be protective of it and feel the need to preserve it; To sustain its beauty for generations to come. You become aware of what you bring and leave behind nothing but footprints. You cringe at the sight of a floating plastic bag and unconsciously pick up cigarette butts you randomly come across. You can’t help it. The ocean is your home and you don’t want people making a mess of it. 

You Become Mr. Nice Guy 
When you’re out in the water and waiting for a set, you’re forced to make conversation with people in the line-up. The perfect wave could take forever to come and all of that waiting time is just the right excuse to practice small talk. It’s your chance to show your crooked teeth to that cute girl you’ve been eyeing for several weekends now. Never mind how her sun-kissed tone highlights her glowing smile and makes you turn away.


A simple gesture goes a long way and more often than not, you’re bound to build relationships that’ll last. You’ll develop the confidence of reaching out to people and learn to interact more to satisfy your hunger to master the temperament of the sea and the swells. Your new best friends — the locals who bring you to all their secret spots. Even seasoned surfers are open to sharing their wisdom and experience about the mystery and complexity of the ocean. The whole community’s atmosphere is ungrudging. There is an unspoken rule between surfers that ties them together. It’s the understanding that the surf belongs to everyone and that it’s meant to be shared and enjoyed by all. 

You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
You’ll be surprised by how surfing can make quite an adventurer out of you. Let’s face it: surf spots aren’t a stone’s throw away and getting there can be quite heavy on the pockets. You’ll have to mindfully allocate your expenses and make room for trips out of what’s left of your paycheck. You become more practical and independent. To budget transportation, you may occasionally find yourself in a car with people you’ll be meeting for the first time and be stuck with them for a minimum of three hours. Next thing you know, you’ve exchanged life stories and embarrassing secrets. You may even find yourself alone on a midnight bus trip to catch up to your friends after rushing your weekend shift.

 

You learn to take risks and decide to share a room in that cheap hostel with guys who are half naked most of the time. And that could get really, really uncomfortable. If you know what I mean (wink). You pretend to like the aged sheets and stinky toilets. It doesn’t matter; you’ll be out in the sun most of the time anyway. And apart from yourself, you’ll also always have to consider your plus one — your board. You’ll have to learn how to carry it, mount it, screw it, wax it, clean it, and give it extra TLC. And all that effort pays off the moment dip your feet in the water and you’re finally paddling out.

You Start to Look after Yourself
Surfing is really energy-consuming. You use your arms 90% of the time and you’ve got to have a strong core. It also involves a lot of swimming, which is a whole body workout. You’ll never get a good wave if you were up all night partying. Surfing teaches you how to condition your body to get a quality ride. 

 
You develop the habit of sleeping early to be up before the sun. You try to find alternate activities that could complement your surfing. Yoga would be a good start. You learn how to nourish yourself and know that your hard work makes you perform better (pun intended). And Oh! Surfers have the sexiest abs. You reap the full benefits when you’re effortlessly gliding on a wave all to yourself.


You Begin to Understand what Freedom Really Means
When you’re out there, all you can hear is the sound of the waves crashing. You’re completely detached. You get no phone calls nor text. No hashtags, no likes, and no tweets. All you have is yourself and the moment. You’re free to think about anything and just completely enjoy that one on one with nature. That’s where you begin to understand that you really don’t need technology and all your luxuries to have fun.
When you’re in the water, you make your own decisions and think for yourself. You can’t rely on anyone else and it’s your call whether you want to tackle a wave or bail. Whatever the result, you’ve only got yourself to blame. It’s a constant battle. Sometimes you don’t even realize your hair’s all over your face making you look like a total mess but you have every right to make your all the weird facial expressions you come up with when you’re paddling extra hard or aboout to fall face flat. It gets ugly, but no one will ever judge you for it.  You may even heed the call of nature and no one would notice. If you don’t call that complete freedom, I don’t know what is. 


I’m not saying that surfing alone initiated these changes. I just want people to know how it has made a positive impact on my life and hopefully get the attention of those who have been wanting to cross it off of their bucket list.



Disclaimer: Reposting this here 'cause something shitty happened to my original article. (Taken from my piece at www.wheninmanila.com) Oh, and I don't own these photos