Serenity in a barrel of diamonds

There are few sports that can be so exhilarating and full of adrenaline, yet still bring moments of supreme peace and tranquility.   There are few sports that allow you to get a damn exhausting full body workout and give you a chance to work on your tan at the same time.  There are few sports that allow one man to harness the raw power of Mother Nature, from her surging waves and powerful rip tides to easy swells and gentle currents.  If this sport sounds up your alley…the world of surfing is out there waiting for you.

 

Many people see surfing as one of those extreme sports that not everyone can be good at – and there is a learning curve to it, no doubt.  But with the right beginner break and a few days of nothing to do but relax and practice catching that swell, you would be surprised how quickly your body and mind catch on.  Once you perfect your balance when popping up from the board on a day of crumbling waves (a soft top long board is highly recommended for beginners!) and riding those in to shore, it is all a matter of strengthening your arms and reading the waves.  Practice paddling and increasing your stamina towards the end of every set to pump up your shoulder muscles for the next run.  Sit and watch the pros as they gauge the wave, when they paddle, how long they wait til they stand up, and how they balance once they do.  You may not be riding barrels in the first week, but the sensation of catching that first wave is enough to send anyone back for another try!!

 

Near the end of my day surfing in Kuta Bali, Indonesia, I decided to take a break and enjoy a moment of the sunset.  Straddling my board out beyond the break, farther even than the local surfers catching major waves that carry them almost all the way into shore, I turn away from the beach and bask in the orange rays of the dying sun.  Their reflection glints off the water like a thousand shimmering crystals, and the hazy clouds on the horizon permute the colours into everything from an optimistic yellow to a soulful hue of red.  I float gently on the calm ocean, bobbing on small swells that grow in size while approaching shore and giving the surfers behind me exactly what they want.  But at the moment I am seeking another aspect of the sport.
I am alone between the sea and the sky, being watched over by the sun, soaking in the last of the warmth it has to offer.  The beauty of the scene is fit for any postcard, and the moment lingers as the silence allows thoughts from the depths of my mind to come out and play on the quiet breeze for me to ponder.  The minutes pass as I take my time and enjoy the simplicity of the moment.  One man, 8 feet of longboard, and the eternity of nature stretching both outwards around me and inwards to the depths of my soul.

Life is good, but living it is even better.

Feeling refreshed and renewed, I again turn my eyes towards shore and promise myself I will catch the next big one home.  I lay forward on the board and paddle one stroke at a time with muscles rested and ready for the challenge ahead.  I glance over my shoulder and catch the sunset glittering through the mouth of a barrel wave curling out far behind me,  the wave seeming to be a carpet of diamonds glinting in splendor before collapsing in upon itself in hopeless chaos.  From the foam emerges a new swell, and I sense this is my chance.  I pull myself forward, four paddles, five, and the wave has me.  I can feel the acceleration as I am picked up by the immense power of the water, and I scramble to my feet.  The feeling of dropping into the wave, picking up speed as if growing wings and taking flight, is unparalleled to anything I have felt before.  To my left and right are local surfers cutting back and forth across the wave with gleeful abandon.  I don’t have those skills yet…but for me, the reward of knowing I have reined in the power of nature is enough.

It even makes up for being hopelessly battered in the surf all day.  =/