Do I choose the wave?

Posted by Ken Campbell April 17, 2010 0 Comment 1111 views

Do I choose the wave, or does the wave choose me? What is it that draws me to one wave and not the others? Why is it that sometimes, even when I’ve committed to a wave and paddle furiously to catch its power, it can slip on below me without allowing me a ride? Why do others rear up and crash on top of me?

Is this really even about surfing?

You can learn a lot from a wave.

To catch a wave, my position, where I am in relation to the wave, is the most important factor. Too far outside and I can’t get to the break in time; too far in and the wave breaks without me and washes my face with the foam. A wave is an opportunity, a chance to participate in something much larger than myself… sometimes we are simply not in the right place to take advantage of an opportunity when it arises.

Often, surfers are focused on size. Head-high, overhead, double overhead. While bigger waves may carry with them the excitement that comes with any danger (real or perceived), there are other factors that make them interesting and exhilarating. Their shape, the length of the ride, the speed of the break – can I cut back and change direction without losing the ride? Can I work the wave, or is it so big that my experience is driven by my survival instinct rather than my inner fun hog? Bigger is not always better, not by a long shot.

Every wave will teach you something. Some of the lessons are beautiful, like when I finally figured out how to do a backside turn with the paddle bracing the opposite side and turning me back up onto the face of the wave. Before that, I would fly down the face, get way out in front, then flounder to stay on as the wave broke behind me. That was a fun lesson. Sometimes the lesson you need to learn is that rocks hurt and barnacles are sharp.

There is always the chance, no matter how many good rides I might get in a session, that the waves I didn’t catch would have been better. But then, that’s true with anything. Every day, surfing or not, is packed with decisions. For every choice, there is a path not chosen, a direction not taken, a wave not pursued. Not all decisions are correct, but life goes on regardless, and you’ll get the chance to make another choice soon enough.

There are waves breaking out there right now.

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