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openerHaving recently been out of my normal surroundings, whatever that means, I had a chance to reflect on (my) surfing, and the path it has created. I am sure I am not alone either, as many people find that if they weren’t liquidly addicted, they may have vastly unhealthy lives. Too much rich food, the race for wealth and baubles, and the pursuit of social happiness leads many of us astray from the simple gestures of life and its small lessons. [Words & pic by Rob Lion]

We can also get so caught up in our own selfish and self-righteous pursuit of uber coolness that we forget why we started surfing in the first place. Like what board we’re riding, where we surf, and how we look doing it. It’s like keeping up with the Joneses gone to Malibu.

I remember going surfing with my friends at Lloyds State Park in Dania, Florida when I was just a grom. I had a total beater that was made by some kooky guy in the backyard of American suburbia. It was given to me if I promised to take it away and never bring it back, which of course I did. Anyway, we all had crappy boards with some missing fins, and had to beg for rides to the beach from our parents, friends, or neighbours. It didn’t matter what the surf was like, if there were waves, we were on it. No fins, no leash, no proper boardies, old wax – nothing mattered. We just had to get our fix. Most of the time, it meant staying out until someone’s parents were screaming at us to get back to the car. Sunburt, crispy, exhausted and probably grounded for a week, we were happier than ever.

Once we were old enough to drive, it was fully on, and 4am missions up the coast to Florida’s surf mecca at Sebastian Inlet were monthly if not weekly events. Driving for four hours to surf for about the same amount of time seemed insane to my parents, but we didn’t care. As long as our cars held out and we had gas money, we knew we’d get wet somewhere.

Something changed between those times and now. Maybe it’s age, experience, or the cold water, but I don’t seem to surf as much, and it isn’t always as satisfying. There are so many ways to surf these days, maybe as much as during the late-60s shortboard revolution, the options can seem overwhelming. Maybe it is the times we live in, or the way life is so much more complicated these days with faxes, emails, instant messaging and phones that know more about our habits than we do.

bahalaia1I guess unplugging is the only way to get that focus back. Forget about the ‘real’ world. Maybe our connected lives are actually making us less connected to what is really going on out there, and we are losing a little of our innocence with it. Surfing is such a simple act and can bring such a sense of freedom from daily chores it is shame to over-complicate it with fashions and rhetoric. Being away from all that for a while, around a group of people that don’t surf, and making a plywood alaia with my dad while waiting for my baggage to show up, was an odd way to find my stoke again. But whether or not the board works the way I hope, or if the waves aren’t perfect, I know I’m getting in somewhere.

So, what is really important? Don’t look at me, you’re the one paddling out, facing the challenge on your own, like always…

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