5 concrete life lessons I learned from surfing.
My life in the water began when I was 6 and joined a swimming team in the city where I was born. Starting from those days I hardly can recall a week I have spent without visiting a swimming pool. During this time I have learned a lot about patience, being a part of the team, and probably the most important were lessons about both winning and losing. I swimmed in rivers, seas, oceans and thought I knew a lot about water.
Everything changed this February.
We landed on Bali when the weather in Moscow was 30°C below zero and the only goal of our trip was to experience the idea of devoting one’s life to finding the ideal wave. It definitely was not my first time on the board: I did snowboarding for a couple of years in a row, I tried riding waves in India some time ago. However, I have never spent 26 hours on planes and in airports in order to live two weeks only doing something quite unusual for a citizen of a megapolis.
Bali, a pretty small island with the population comparable to St. Petersburg, is pretty famous for its variety of surfing spots for people with all levels of skills. Our villa was in Nusa Dua as I read in the Internet about pretty good waves there, but actually we explored the whole island searching for right waves.
Our first day started at 6 am. There is literally one road on Bali, so you have to wake up early to avoid traffic jams. Our coaches (awesome guys from EnjoyWipeout) picked us up driving a minivan with some boards attached to the roof and we went to Canggu, one of the most popular spots for both beginners and experienced surfer. This was the time for the first lesson.
Lesson 1. Everything is in your head
As soon as we got our boards (big and long ones, 9 ft is a perfect fit for newbies), we learned how to attach leashes properly, how to paddle in and paddle out, how to stand in the right position and where to find a channel without waves. But in the water all these things were forgotten and I started struggling with waves, felt myself inwardly cower, mind racing, with thoughts of how badly I was going to die being taken to the bottom of the ocean.
Danny, the man I own everything I know about the ocean till this moment, helped a lot with just a phrase. He said, everything is in my head.
That does not sound like a big revelation, but at that moment that helped a lot and still helps — in all spheres of my life. The reality is you never know how unbelievably strong you are until you are facing the wave, riding that set even though mere second prior you were mentally quivering at the shore. Whenever you are facing an assignment at university, or taking a large project in work, or even starting a relationship, you will always be as tough as you need to be. Do not forget about that.
Lesson 2. Get it or paddle out
Next day we were more relaxed. Almost all fears disappeared as we felt that we have the power required to stay alive among waves, other surfers and the nature. However, at the new spot, at a small bay next to Tanah Lot where waves were way bigger, we got another lesson.
The ocean is typically silent for a while, and then a set of three of four waves rolls one after another. There is for sure a strong desire to go for the first wave in the set, but generally this one is quite flat. You have to think in advance: if you see a wave you are not going to get, paddle out as fast as possible or you will be smashed and the ocean will bring you to the shore for your hesitation.
Did you notice the same pattern in your day-to-day life? You do not have a lot of options when you have to accept or decline an offer, you can not stand and think too much when you meet a girl and ask here for a date. There is no time for hesitation. Get it or paddle out and give the room for more experienced players.
Lesson 3. Choose in one second
After approximately ten hours with the board I started to feel the waves. However, there a lot of people in the lineup and I still did not feel them. So here is another advice the life gave to me: whenever you are surfing, you have to choose in one second.
There were different situations during my surfing lessons. I was smashed by waves, smashed by other surfers, lose my contact lenses, broke my board, missed my coach and so on. Anyway, every time I did not have more than one second to decide what to do next in order to save myself and avoid hurting someone around. Surfing is about generosity and the community is the most important thing you have to carry about.
Try to feel the same every day. Do not waste your time as it is mostly will not help at all.
Lesson 4. Something is coming
Sometimes the ocean was really still. No clouds in the sky, no waves on the horizon, no sounds of seagulls. But there is a feeling which I can not describe. First of all you hear a noise somewhere: the previous set is coming to the shore. After that you see a thin green line in the distance, the line becomes bigger and bigger, your board starts to vibrate and here it is, another set of waves.
Anytime, anywhere, when you feel like the whole world forgot about you, just calm down and be patient. There are a lot of things out of our perception and there is no way to predict the outcome of events. Surfing teaches us a lot about mindfulness and living with nature. Ocean does not care about your day, it does not care if it entertains you, or scares you, or even if it kills you. It just exists, and fighting with the ocean will be just a waste of time and energy. Learn to feel the world around you and your life will be way easier.
Lesson 5. You just need more waves
At the end of our journey I felt myself like a real pro. I knew about waves and winds, I knew about lineups and the etiquette. I changed my long and cumbersome board for another one, shorter and lighter. But I still had so much things to learn, so much tricks to master, so much places to explore. I felt myself quite miserable as I thought that I did not get as much as possible from my coaches and people around.
Danny saved the day. He said, you just need more waves. There is no way to learn something completely. Every time you will still have something to improve. Surfing is not about a competition, it is about sharing. I have paddled out to the ocean almost alone and came back with new friends: we shared waves, we took turns, we eat the same food and drove the same roads.
Do not show off your knowledge even if you are quite good in this sphere. Just do your work, help people who don’t know as much as you, be generous and you will get more from the world.
Instead of conclusion
There is no secret that “surfers march to a different drum”. I know how you imagine these guys with salt-bleached hair, these girls in short bikinis, this dark skin under a layer of flesh-toned zinc oxide. But this is not correct. Or at least this is not the thing you should think about first of all.
Surfers are different, because they are succeeded on the road to better life. The life without wars and wasted time, the life dedicated to humanity instead of selfishness, the life full of fun. And from now on this is my dream to bring to life.
See you in the lineup, guys.