*This is the first of what I hope to be a long running series of guest posts. My friend, Mark Carter, opens this series with a meditation on the healing power of water. Mark is co-owner of Zen Soul Balance in San Diego, California.
Ten years ago, I stepped into the liquid and was pushed into my first wave at a beach break in San Diego. It took only one wave for this Indiana farm-boy to experience first-hand the sublime words of Jacques Cousteau: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
Duke Kahanamoku, Native Hawaiian, five-time Olympic medalist swimmer, and the father of modern-day surfing, once said, “Out of the water, I am nothing.” Rather than being melodramatic, The Big Kahuna understood that water is the foundation of life and in a sense, he was right – we are nothing when water isn’t present.
The human body is comprised of 60-70% water by weight and over 90% water by molecule. Dr. Wallace Jacobs, in his seminal work, Blue Mind, reminds us that “the human body as a whole is almost the same density as water [and] in its mineral composition, the water in our cells is comparable to that found in the sea.”
Our planet, which is covered in 70% water (96% of it saline), should not be called Earth, writes Arthur C. Clarke, but rather should be called Ocean. Over half a billion people owe their livelihood directly to water-based industries, with 80% of the world’s population living within sixty miles of coastline, rivers and lakes. W.H. Auden was right, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”
I am happy in the brine; surfing 7-days week during the summer and 3-5 days a week in the winter. Each time I paddle out I engage with the primordial force of creation, sometimes lulled by its playful undulations and other times, scared shitless at its raw and relentless power. Surfing is a kaleidoscope of emotion and experience. It links you to the nostalgia of heroes and legends like Miki Dora, Dale Velzy, Hap Jacobs, Greg Noll, and Skip Frye, while allowing you to draw your own lines, your own style, your own legacy.
Surfing is a spiritual act of transcendence and immanence. It is being surrounded, immersed and grounded in the here and now. It’s the playful innocence of kids draining the last bit of light from an endless summer. It’s the act of conversation with friend, landscape and ocean-life. It’s the practice of patience and gratitude, riding only the waves that wind and sea serendipitously offer. It is the Aloha-spirit.
Phil Edwards, 1960’s surfing icon, once said, “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” I think that pretty much sums it up.
photo credential: https://www.sarahlee.photo