In Between

This afternoon I took a (delayed) flight from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco. I sat by a window on the west side and the plane hugged the coast the whole way, so I watched some of the most beautiful coastline in the world pass by a few thousand feet below. I saw some awesome secluded point breaks along the Big Sur coast just south of Monterey and wondered what happy surfer was keeping it for themself.

This past week I was walking downtown doing errands with my son when we heard a fiddle. Yes, a fiddle. We followed the sound and listened to a young, sweating street performer play his heart out for half an hour.

This past weekend I competed in a surf contest. My heat was later in the morning even though we had to sign-in at 6:30 am. While waiting around impatiently for my heat, I volunteered to help with AmpSurf’s “expression session” in the water. AmpSurf is an organization that teaches amputees and wounded veterans to surf. I was paired with a woman just back from Afghanistan who participated as part of the Wounded Warrior Project. She was awesome – she made surfing look easy. My performance in the contest was forgettable, but the unexpected half-hour in the water with AmpSurf was the best part of the day.

One of the best times during a surfing session is when there are no waves. Waves (at least the good surfing waves) arrive in sets and between those sets are lulls that can last a few seconds or a few minutes. During a lull, you sit on your board, peer toward the horizon, and feel the smaller swells carrying you gently up and down. Sometimes you smile and make conversation with another surfer. Sometimes everyone is in their own mind, loving where they are and what they’re doing right now.

Surfing has helped to teach me that you can miss a lot by considering only your endpoints and goals and not noticing what’s in between. Point A and Point B might be great, but the journey can be even better.  If you only like riding perfect waves, surfing will be 99% un-fun for you. If being in the water makes you happy, peaceful, excited, focused, grateful, curious, or just un-negative, surfing will make you better every time you paddle out.

 Big Sur coastline

 Practicing the pop-up

 Stretching is a must when you're in a neoprene suit

 Like I said, she was a natural.

 Yours truly being not so awesome during the contest.