Surfing lessons

Journeys are discoveries, we all know that. We discover things in all shapes and sizes from the moment we step in to an airport. I had been looking forward to going Bali for quite a while. I knew there would be stimulating things ahead for me, that's the whole reason why I like travelling. We are all different, we are each to our own.

I started getting intrigued with surfing from travelling through Mexico; spending two or three nights in each place was the way I did it, but when I came to Puerto Escondido on the Atlantic coast, I ended up staying a week after hitting the Zicatela beach and seeing the pipeline before me and befriending 3 Brazilian dudes who were there the month for the sole aim of catching waves (and playing beach soccer). That's when I started learning through watching and admiring.

Now as I sit on the beaches of Belangan and Ulu Watu, I really feel the lessons start to sink in.

I have learned from surfers how to attack my day. As I rise by 8am - which only happens on working days - I sit and watch surfers catch the early morning waves awakening their bodies while I do the same over breakfast coffee and banana pancakes. I can train twice a day no problem in the gym and on the hockey pitch, but getting me doing either before breakfast has always been a titanic feat. These guys start their days off on the right note, making room for their passion before their responsibilities. This is probably my biggest lesson so far and tunes in with my Carpe Diem being I have carried with me for so long. As as my coffee brings me to life it is also my biggest smile.

Yeah, surfers are dudes and surfers are cool and chilled out. But they are also driven, they are competitive with one another. They are focused and push for self-improvement, as oppose to outside validation. Once they are at one with the wave it is all that matters to them, not what others think of how they hang out there. What matters is how they personally ride each wave. For me by now it is not about being the best, but being the best possible person I can.

I have always considered myself a person of considerable patience. That has been put to the test as of late and sometimes I am almost pleased to have been put under. Beach moments like these massage it deep in to me - momentarily painful as muscle tissues cringe under the pressure but ease as they reap the benefit. I can sit and wait tight for the waves just like the guys perched on the boards in the lull of the swells. It is a calming feeling. It is like a delayed gratification that makes me smile as a guys rolls back on to his stomach, manouvres his board to point back to the shore and paddles himself in to the stance as he gets the wave he has so dearly waited for. They don't give up on that wave coming.

It can be hard work, and a monthly pay slip does not regularly come every month as a reward. It really is a labour of love. Only a few will live professionally from surfing alone. Some take jobs so they can fit their surfing freedom in. they know that money is not the ultimate reward and that you have to put in the time to reap the ulitmate reward. No short cuts to that pipeline, pally.

I am predominantly a city kinda guy. I like the urban atmosphere and all the different spices of life you can find there. But I also like the calm in the city, and need to explore that more. The spicy kick of a curry and a soto ayam soup does it for me, but a plain grilled chicken steak and salad goes down just as well (Spicy life). Strip it down. Hence why I am here, why I go hiking up hills and mountains and search for the sea when I backpack away. I see trim 50-year old guys with a board under their arm coming back up the beach in from the reef with a zest about them, before a beer and a game of beach volleyball. Kelly Slater, the 11-time world champion is 42 years old and still up there as one of the all-time best and challenging for his title back. The wide open and the nature spurns.

Life is beautiful but we need to learn how to live it; not so much how it works, but how to learn how to stay in it. Because life will hurt you, even when you are with people or do things you love. I have taken some knocks in my time on a hockey pitch, but I still carry on. I have seen surfers come in with bruises across their rib cages and cuts across their foreheads seeking that better wave; despite everything, still they will seek, still they will ride. I will be back soon nurturing the life-long callouses at the bottom of my fingers from holding a stick and fighting for my place in the team.

Like the waves before me, and no matter how good surfers are at riding them, they will always be something much bigger than us, we are so tiny. We need to learn like these guys learn how to harmonise with waves. We all need to learn. No exceptions. And deep down, we all want, or better said, need, to belong to something (A never ending journey?). Like Surfers stick together, they embrace a way of life, a perspective.

So I have been having surfing lessons, but I am firmly on the sand with my Bingtang beer in hand, I haven't actually been in the sea to surf. I can barely swim. But I will be out there 'paddling'. Just let me take it all in and finish this beer first.


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