SURFING | Cleansing Away The Psychic Debris

Surfer: Mike Hughes

Surfer: Mike Hughes

“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me), It’s always our self we find in the sea.” ― E.E. Cummings

Watching the waves as they caressed the jetty rocks, I waxed my board, then quickly ran down the beach. As I reached the shore line I jumped into the water, feverishly paddling into the oncoming waves, making my way into the spread out line up of eager surfers.

Although the surf was only about waist to chest high, my grommet like enthusiasm wasn’t totally uncalled for. The set waves were few and far between, sweeping in every fifteen minutes or so. In between were smaller, weaker waves peaking up here and there. When the good waves rolled in, they had nice shape and the conditions were nearly perfect. Light west winds, a warm sunny day that was accompanied with clean, clear water.

Trading waves off for an hour or so, the session was a needed cleanse, as the debris of my life on land was, if only temporarily, washed away by my oceanic departure.

With a long period swell you have plenty of time to sit. While sitting, comes the space to dump any garbage that may be clogging my minds eye. There is a clarity of thought I find while sitting on my board, atop the ocean surface, waiting for my next wave to roll through.

I can sometimes bring this clarity for a brief period of time while on land. I must be honest, eventually the pace of life has me once again swept away with all its comings and goings. Like a ship without a rudder, I can be lead astray, dragged this way and that by the changing directions of the winds of life. That is when I long for my maritime sanctuary.

"Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books." - John Lubbock

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.” – John Lubbock

For many the ocean and her waves may seem like a chaotic place, but as surfers we learn to skillfully glide across the so-called chaos. I’ve been surfing for the better part of my life so far and the myriad of experiences have given me some agility dealing with the shifting tides of life on land. But when stressful times hit, it often seems I have yet to apply the lessons I’ve learned while surfing.

When one wave closes out, don’t waste time getting mentally hung up on it. Turn around, paddle back out, and catch another. The idea is to learn from the previous mistake, riding the next wave with a bit more skill and knowledge then the wave before. The same attitude and action should be applied to everyday life and the challenges that come with living.

When I find I am lost to myself, I return to the place whence we all came, the sea. There is always another lesson awaiting me.

The ocean speaks, Am I listening?

All photos: Christor Lukasiewicz

"Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit." -E.E. Cummings. Surfer: Brandon Galarza

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” -E.E. Cummings. Surfer: Brandon Galarza

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Growing up in New Jersey, Shawn discovered and quickly immersed himself in the sub-culture of surfing and skateboarding in the mid 80’s. With a diverse and eclectic background, Shawn has walked the path of a competitive surfer, Hare Krsna monk, action sports industry player in NYC, DIY theology and religions major, and a touring punk rock musician. Now a father and self-proclaimed seeker of the “soul” of surfing, Shawn enjoys sessions with friends at uncrowded peaks along his home state’s shoreline and writing about his surf related experiences.

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