My last wave was a couple of months ago.
With the prospect of hitting the ocean again, the usual ideas of self-doubt surfaced.
Am I rusty? Have I forgotten to surf? I should probably work on my surf fitness at home by hitting the gym for a few months.
Then I had the realisation that all those notions were inconsequential. What’s important is the perspective gained from being unplugged from the usual busyness of the world for a few hours. The feeling of aliveness, joy, and above all, just being. The ocean doesn’t need me to be a good surfer; it just is there and so am I.
As a Buddhist, I am always doing my best to find a helpful perspective to frame my life—how to deal with busyness, stress, conflict. What’s it all for? Why in the usual routine of life that we all live, in an alarmingly rat-race fashion, do we lose perspective of the fact that all we need to do is enjoy? But the question is then: how?
I started surfing, playing, and exploring in the ocean when I was seven years old. The feeling is the same all these years later. Every surfer will preach to that feeling: one of pure aliveness, joy, and freedom from riding or depending upon your view. Being a part of the wave for a short moment.
Now what has changed in the two decades-plus since I first experienced the healing power of the ocean is me. The reflection in the mirror has changed: the boy changed into a man, and perhaps, somewhat sadly, I am closer to death.
My practice as a Buddhist is to remind myself of the bittersweet, natural law that we can’t escape: impermanence.
This moment that is here now is ending. The next moment will come and end also. We will be a little older, perhaps wiser, but at the same time, heartbroken that this particular moment may be the last one we experience in this particular place or time—the nostalgia of the past.
We try to capture a perfect moment in time, but it can’t be done. We can watch the waves crash onto the shore with the sunset—the perfect moment—but it will end, and all we can do is enjoy it while we have it. Never demanding more, but allowing it to unfold just as it is and enjoying it.
We lose sight of perspective in everyday life. Too caught up in our phones, work, TV, studying, self-development, socialising, to even looking up and appreciating. It won’t be here forever.
Surfing in essence is a metaphor for the spiritual journey. If you surf, you know the feeling of being “out back” behind the breaking waves, sitting, waiting for the next set of waves to roll in. It’s in those moments where you have nothing else to do but wait, look around, and appreciate.
You may never see that backdrop again. The cliffs, the sunrays bouncing off the flats of the ocean, the sea birds talking to you all while you wait. You look up, and you feel (maybe) a sense of gratitude for this moment, and then it’s over…you catch the next wave.
Try to catch more moments like that.