When is the last time you said: “What was I thinking?” Was it about something you bought? Something you said? I had this moment when I was invited to speak in Argentina and responded in the affirmative by email along with: “Can I surf?” Can’t imagine what the program chair was thinking with that little digital dump.
Where’s the Swell?
To be honest, when I was a professor asked to speak in faraway lands, I always tried to sandwich lectures between surf sessions. Be it Cape Town, San Paolo, Panama, Japan or Hawaii, I would find a way to hit the ocean whenever possible. Usually challenging, it was always memorable.
My schedule in Argentina was too packed and too inland to make it feasible. Not only that, the Atlantic Ocean in winter is frigging cold in an absolutely Antarctic way, with ice cream headaches de rigueur with each fall.
The Point is Popping
More to the point though is why is surfing so top of mind that it invades normal thinking? I don’t surf as often or a much as I want, certainly not like buddies Dr. Marc Kalan or filmmaker Joe Dugan. Cripes, I can hardly call myself a “surfer,” but more like “one who surfs.“ Yet, despite this, for some strange reason, it’s always calling me, like a beacon in the soul.
Surf and Turf
The answer, I think, is flow. Like with microsurgery, or writing a new research paper, I lose all sense of time and place when surfing. Technically, flow is “completely focused motivation,” or “single minded immersion.” It is “hyperfocus,” but in a positive way. Either way, it works for me.
There’s something about surfing that demands all of you. When you are in the water experiencing its power and force, there is nowhere else you can be. No place for idle thought, it’s all consuming, often requiring split second decisions about every approaching wave: go under, go over, or take the beast to shore, owning it for seconds at best. Just you and a plank.
And so, as winter leaves Argentina, autumn descends on California, bringing with it long awaited northwest swells that fill the Pacific with magical swell lines appearing like corduroy in water. This autumn, as life cranks up again with it’s day-to-day, ceaselessly churning commitments, find time to let the willy nilliness of flow disturb your otherwise ordered existence.