This I Believe

Kristofer - Piedmont, California
Entered on June 5, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: pleasure
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Power to the Sea

Everyone needs something to hang on to. Everyone needs something to miss so that they can discover it again. Everyone needs something in order to be happy, even when that something is nothing. For me, that something is the power which lies within the ocean, which temperamentally produces waves – sometimes, they are rather large, and sometimes, they can barely afford to lap at my ankles. These waves allow me to tap into the enormous power of the sea, one wave at a time, when I go surfing. Call it what you will: a passion, an addiction, a pastime, a hobby. However, for me, surfing is a way to recalibrate my life when it becomes too hectic for me to handle. It is a place for reflection on recent events which always seems to end too quickly, but from which I come away more ready to reenter the world at large. Surfing is the ultimate getaway.

At times, I find myself questioning what my life would be like without riding waves at least once, usually three times a week. Would I be less motivated, or overweight? How would life be different? In all the various scenarios I may imagine, however, I cannot imagine being happier without surfing. If there has been one overriding influence in my lifetime on who I am and what I believe, it is surfing.

This past summer, I worked my first job as a surf instructor at an overnight surfing camp in Santa Cruz, a place where I originally learned the art of waveriding, and it is where I returned with a hope that I could infuse my passion into the hearts of surf camp attendees. That summer I volunteered, and did not have any regrets in doing so. Surfing led me to living in a tent for two months, surfing twice a day everyday, not being paid, paying a quarter for a two minute shower once a week, and pathetically working on a tan which I will never have. Looking back on the experience, I could not have been happier. My first job essentially was to initiate others to my ultimate source of satisfaction in the world. I remember working with one fourteen year old severely autistic person whom I will never forget. For three weeks, this guy stayed at the camp, and he incessantly reminded me of how powerfully joyful riding a wave can be. The difficulty he faced in learning to tame a small mountain of water in an upright position only made the first wave he rode after two weeks of everyday efforts that much more extraordinary of an experience. As I pushed him into the wave, he looked the same as always when in the ocean: persuaded that this, this one moment, would be the one he was seeking where he would get up. On this wave he did, and looked back at me as the ride came to an end, with the most beautiful grin I’ve ever seen on his face.

My summer would seem torturous to many people, including several of my closest friends, yet surfing taught me that true happiness cannot be found by valuing material wealth or by ignoring the presence of nature in the insulated, heated, very controlled environment of our homes. Surfing truly has fueled my desire to see the world while allowing me to strip away the artificial creations of man and behold the raw power of nature and the sea.