Serenity. Immediately a Zen-like stillness may come to mind. The meditative idea of breathe in through the nose and exhale through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth, focus on your breath, rinse, repeat… And aaaahhhhhh, your cares slip from your monkey mind into the abyss. Perhaps that is an idea of Serenity, or something similar when encountering that word. Pausing, stillness… A sense of deep peace. A surrender to all that surrounds you. To just BE in the moment. To BE the moment. And again… Breathe.
Surfing brings to mind the constant movement of an ever-changing environment, waves of perpetual impermanence, a force that which is far mightier, far larger, far stronger than oneself, possibly huge barrels of rolling water crashing onto and into themselves while daredevils, balancing on 2’ x5’ (give or take) elongated diamonds made of fiberglass or compressed Styrofoam, ride those rolling crests or the even-more-adventurous, deep inside those barreled pipelines, what the Mother Ocean, to whom deference is to be paid at all times, delivers as a gift to those brave enough to give it a go.
Let’s see, sitting by the ocean listening to the tide repeatedly call to the shore? That says aaaahhhhhh … “Serenity”. Paddle out on a sliver of a raft and try to stand up on it and ride in on that which is being listened to? That does not say “serenity”.
As one can see, on the surface, surfing ideologically appears to be in direct juxtaposition to serenity in thought, and even more so in action. Conceptually, unless you are initially from the surf culture, those two in conjunction with one another seem highly improbable however, more and more, surfing and serenity has become more than a match, they are being mated to one another in ways initially unthought-of by those outside of said culture; meaning those who were not Gidget, or are Danny Fuller, or Kelly Slater or the emulators thereof.
Let’s consider serenity an action instead.
Every sunrise brings a new breath of life’s fire, bouncing off the water making it reflect colors and turning them into shades of tinted liquid mercury. The ocean is the very essence of the art of impermanence. In the inhalation of all that is sensate, the salt water we taste on our lips, the smell of the sea, the temperature of the air versus the water, the weight of our bodies on the board as we paddle out, the great expanse of horizon we see stretched out before us to then arrive at our “spot”. The place where we sit, breathing, deep, calming yet anticipatory, excited yet relaxed breaths, knowing that as we bob there, bouncing within the rhythm of the world, in harmony with nature itself and not separate from, waiting for the next set of waves, we are at one and the serenity of our one-ness with all, even before the wave arrives, has brought us to a different state of being, into another state of awareness and then there’s the wave. In seconds, it all changes again and yet, as our senses semi-reset, our skin this time feeling a spray of water, our hand caressing the mighty barrel pipelining over us, our eyes filling with blue and green and white and grey, thunderous in sound, we are transported into rapid action, a joy indescribable, transcendent, no time for our monkey minds to be busy, and even if it’s only for a 3 second ride, there’s just BEING and the WAVE. The quiet mind and the racing water. The quiet mind is the serenity.
When such dedication and focus exists, there is no room for distraction, for interruption, for fleeting thoughts. It’s breathtaking, awe-inspiring nature and the essence of self as the entirety. Not to mention, learning how to “pop-up” on a board, the thrill of standing, the first ride, the process of progressing in and of itself has its own triumphs, each an accomplishment in its own right. There is a baptismal aspect to our ever return to the always-moving water, not from a place of religious sanctification but a spiritual cleansing, almost as if the salt from the sea is exfoliating our troubles away, if only for the time we step from sandy shore to its forever partnered incoming and receding waterline. Placing boards down to paddle out our cares are suddenly whisked away, left behind on the beach by our towels.
The sun may be rising, it may be setting, it may be midday, or it may even be night; it could be any season, in almost any part of the world, wherever earth and ocean meet; it is an act beyond common tongue. The language of surfing bonds self with self, self with others, and self to nature and through nature to world and through world to universe. It is all of that in the riding of one wave.
In the peace of being one with all, out of one’s head for even a moment, surfing can bring about an ineffable serenity.
Oh yeah… Surfers did.
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