“Surfing soothes me, it’s always been a kind of Zen experience for me. The ocean is so magnificent, peaceful, and awesome. The rest of the world disappears for me when I’m on a wave. ” — Paul Walker
I recently spent a few days at the beach with the kids, and the older boys and I engaged in one of our favorite seaside activities, body surfing. If you’ve never done this, it’s when you’re out a ways into the sea, just past where waves are cresting as them come into shore. If you start swimming at just the right time with a wave that’s shaped in just the right way, it will pick you up and carry you all the way in.
Obviously, this uses the same principle that surfing with a board does. And sure enough, while we were out there, we were sharing that section of ocean with quite a few surfers on surfboards. But as cool as those folks look, I came to wonder what they were getting out of the experience that we weren’t. They weren’t really any further out when they would catch a wave. They didn’t seem to be able to ride the waves they caught in as far as we could. Most importantly, it seemed to me that the quality of their experience was inferior to ours.
What I mean by that is that the biggest difference I could see is that the board surfers were riding the waves, but we body surfers were becoming part of the waves. There was no intermediary of wood or fiberglass between us and nature; when a wave would pick us up, we and the wave would become as one — at least until we reached the beach and were returned to being our former selves.
Now, I’ve never learned to surf with a board. I’m perfectly open to the possibility that there’s some awesome aspect to it that I simply don’t understand from that lack of experience. But body surfing offers such a strong connection with the wave that one rides that I’m not sure what that aspect would be. If there are any board surfers out there who would like to enlighten me, by all means, please do.