Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Just keep paddling

We've all been there…watching the surf pump,
searching for a channel or easy way to get to
out.  We watch and wait only to realize
that there will be no easy path to pleasure today.
If we want to get the sheer joy of those perfect
overhead waves there is little we can do but to
jump in paddle.

Sometime the paddle out is easy, we get a break.
Other times it's unrelenting, almost a strange torture.
Wave after wave march towards us as we make our
way. If you are on a short board it's duck dive after
duck dive. Those on longboards seem to have an even
harder time. The paddle seems endless. It feels like
the ocean doesn't want to let you get there. Will you
ever make it out to the lineup?

A break  is coming...

You paddle and paddle, mustering every ounce of
strength and energy you've got. This time you'll
make it out. Your  determination builds as you watch
those who have been lucky enough to
make it beyond the never ending line of white water
feel the joy of riding waves. You imagine the feeling.

Sometimes life feels like a long difficult paddle. The
struggle seems almost too hard but you persevere and
just keep paddling.  You know exactly
the sheer joy of the wave… the sheer joy of the ride,
the joy of life.

Sometimes it's not easy, we just have to hang in there
and keep paddling.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Surfing and Mood

It's been a few days of record breaking cold in NJ.
There is still snow on the ground and, in fact, it's
snowing right now.  I haven't been in the water, thanks
to limited daylight, my work schedule, and uncooperative
tides in a few weeks.  I'm finding myself getting a bit
antsy and moody, agitated, and in a funk. Seems I'm
more motivated to eat things I shouldn't, sleep, and fritter
away my time.  Sound familiar?

Every surfer I know seems to get down when he or she
can't get in the water enough.  Add in a dose of low
temperatures, (making outside activity difficult - hey who
wants to jog, walk or bike ride when the weatherman is
warning about frostbite), and a diet of facebook photos
from friends who have fled for the tropics and you get
the recepie for Surfer's Seasonal Depressive Disorder.

We are better able to endure flat spells when the weather
is nice enough to be outside. Hey, you can paddle, run,
bike, or walk. In the summer you can swim, snorkel, fish,
row, or take out the SUP for a flat water downwinder.
But when it's cold, grey, and snow covered the options are
limited.

I know it sounds like I'm whining. I know, I'm really spoiled
and lucky - hey I'm outta here again in less then 2 weeks!
But, I've binge watched a bunch of stuff on Netflix, watched
my favorite surf related dvd's, finished reading a bunch of
books, gone through the current Surfer's Journal in record
time, and spent entirely too much time on facebook. I'd better
get back to eating right, exercising, being mindful and grateful
for all I have.  That for sure will help my mood.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

rekindling relationships

I've had lots of house guests and friends in town this
past few weeks.  Being that I have a pretty big and
diverse quiver visiting friends often ask to borrow a board.
In to the board closet they go sorting and looking for a board
that tickles their fancy.  When the board locker is a bit more
cleared out then usual I get to see the boards in the back,
the boards tht I've not ridden in a while.

My normal quiver was easy to find but I also found a board
I haven't ridden in quite a long time. The board is Paul Baymore's
(the Fly) take on a Dave Parmenter Stubb Vector. There is a
long and wonderful tale about getting the dimensions for that
board, but I'll save that for another time.

I pulled out the board, put in some new fins, waxed it up
and decided to ride it.  Hey, what can be bad about a first
light session with offshore winds and waves in the chest
high range?  On the first wave I easily glided in, made a
nice bottom turn and the board flew down the line. Ah, I
remember this board I happily thought. Wonder why I
stopped riding it? Guess everything old is bew again. It's
been my go to board for a week or so now, can't seem
to let it go back into the locker.

Finding an old love, an old board, or old friend can create
many emotions.  Sometimes it's really good to go back, to
rekindle relationships.  You never know what you'll get.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Do something nice…make someone's day

The surf was really fun this morning.  Wind was offshore
and the swell in the 3-4 foot range making for steep, hollow
takeoff's and a barrel here and there.  Given that it's mid
December having the air temperatures in the low 60's here in
NJ was an extra bonus. Oh did I mention a deep blue cloudless
sky with bright sun? Pretty special, pretty rare.

After surfing a few hours and feeling really happy I casually
stood by my car taking off my gloves and boots.  Given the beauty
of the day a friend, Brian, and I began to talk. Neither of us were
in a hurry. Brian was beaming, stoked about all the fun he'd had.
He went on to tell me that the fun was, in part, the result of a random
act of kindness from a stranger.

Knowing that the surf was good, Brian had rushed to pack his car in
order to take advantage of his window, between taking kids to
school and going to work.  He got to the beach and suited up only
to realize he'd forgotten to bring a leash. I guess he voiced his
displeasure in a loud voice filled with a few explitives.  So loud
that a guy who'd just gotten out of the water heard him.  "What's
up" the stranger asked.  When Brian told him he'd forgotten his leash
the stranger said "no worries, take mine, here's my address just drop
it off when you're done".  Brian was stoked!

Pretty simple thing to do! How easy was it to make someone's day
by doing a random act of kindness. Something we all should
think about.  When was the last time you made someone's day by
doing something nice?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Much needed sessions - Blue Mind

Been a tough weekend for me and thankfully I've been able to surf.
The waves were fun, the water and air not that cold yet.  I'm
so grateful for the ocean, waves, and what it does to and for me.

I hope you have had a chance to read Wallace J. Nichols great book
The Blue Mind.  It's a book about what water, (the ocean for me), does
to our brains, to our psyche's.  Pretty interesting to read about the science
that altered my brain as I arced across a decent section of a chest high wave,
riding the twinzer that has become my newest favorite board. I felt non
of the stress, sadness, and sorrow that has made the past few days tough
for me.  My mind and soul were happy for the time I spent in the ocean,
waiting, checking the horizon, watching and judging the waves as they
approached, and my spirit was joyous as I put my board through it's
paces.

Last night I needed to clear my head.  At 11pm I walked to the ocean.
It was dark, the wind was blowing, the surf was pounding and a few
fisherman were oiut on the jetty hoping for some stripers.  They too
seemed to be pleased enough just being there. Being in, on, and near
the ocean. Hearing the sounds, smelling the smells, feeling the spray,
appreciating the wonderous healing, calming nature of the ocean.

Some sessions we need more then others. Give thanks for the ocean and
what it can do for you.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Reunions - Old boards, old friends, old memories

Been a very interesting month or so for me.  First came the annual
Manasquan Classic Longboard Contest.  This is one of the only
2 contests I generally enter a year, and it's one that always brings a
smile to my face.  We started the contest a few decades ago just for fun.
You have to ride a pre-1968 classic longboard and there are only 2 rules
1) no rules and 2) no complaints.  The event is a chance to reunite with
old friends and people who you don't see or surf with that often.  It is also
a trip down memory lane.  The classic old boards are wonderful to look
at, albeit not always easy to ride. When was the last time you got a
chance to see over 100 classics lined up on the beach? When did you
actually get a chance to ride a board you might have had in the 60's?
There is a great photo of me trying with all my might to crank a bottom
turn on an old Weber Performer with a hatchet fin.  Guess I forgot that
you can't actually do that, you have to ride those
boards differently.  As you'd imagine with a gathering like that talking
story, reliving the "old days" is part of the fun.

The next event  was an actual reunion of the fabled Kiernan  Surfing
Association.  Kiernan was the name of the street leading to one of Long
Branch NJ's best surf break.  The street is long gone as are the
bungalows on it.  The great jetty and shoreline lined with poles are
gone as well. The bottom and structure that groomed swells buried
under tons of sand. Waves barely break at that once hallowed spot.
As I looked at the area from the beach it was unrecognizable.  The guys
who were members of the Kiernan Surfing Association were amongst
the best in NJ.  Surfer's like Vince Troniec, Charley Kunes who were
on the  Dewey Weber Surf Team, "Old Guys" like Big Mike and Duke
Fratten, both in their 90's, men we looked up to were all there.
Memories, stories, laughs, and photos were shared.


The final event of this "hat-trick" was my 50th high school reunion.
50 yearsis a really long time.  I saw people I've known for over 60
years! People from elementary school. My first girlfriend, team mates
from football and baseball, people I sat in classes with, people I
partied with,( in a 1950's and early 1960's kind of way) were all there.
Some were easy to pick out, they'd looked  similar to how they
looked 50 years ago with some grey and a few wrinkles, others
were unrecognizable, while others sadly had passed away or been
killed in war. Questions about those who weren't there, updates on
peoples lives created endless waves memories.

Each of these events were chances to reflect and look at how my life
has unfolded. Each event prompted me to be grateful for howit's all
has turned out. How often do you take the time to look back and learn?

 Every surfer has certain waves locked in our memories. We can recall
the smallest details, the break, the size, the shape all burned into our
brains. Life is full of little events, full of people, full of posibilities.
As someone at the  high school reunion said…"hey we're still here"!
As someone commented to me…"keep surfing!"  Good advice for us all.
Cherish your memories but enjoy your life. Remember those waves but
keep surfing and looking forward to the next swell you never know
what's to come.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pleasure from diversity

Today was a really fun day. The surf was between chest to 
head high and even though thewind wasn't offshore it was
not a factor at all.  The swell direction wasn't perfect but that too
wasn't a big deal.  I was lucky enough to surf twice before having
to go to my office. What a joy!  I rode 2 entirely different boards 
today each with it's own spirit, it's own mood and flow. 

My dawn patrol pick was a 5'9" Larry Mabile twin fin with
beautiful wooden keels.  That board is really quick and riding
it has a curious influence on how I surf.  I seem to make arcing
swooping turns, I coil at the bottom of waves and glide smoothly
off the top.  It's kind of a speedy "go with the flow"gliding type
of mindset.

For my second session I decided to ride my 6'8" Malwitz
widowmaker.  It has two sidebites and a 6 inch Skip Frye 
center fin.  The shape, as a friend who saw me waking from
car commented, was 70's style with updates.  Totally different from
my early morning fish.  Obviously I had to alter my mindset and style.
My turns were different as was the speed. No coiling on the
widowmaker.

Great diversity provided me with great pleasure. Perhaps the 
same can be said for our life experiences and friendships.  How
often do you step out of your comfort zone? How frequently
do you push yourself to try something totally different?  Do
you surround yourself with people who look, think, or act the same?
Might not be a strategy that provides you with the greatest fulfillment.
There is great pleasure from diversity.