A Life Devoted to Surfing is a Life of Sacrifice

Chris Lisanti, one on one with the ocean.

Chris Lisanti, one on one with the ocean. Photo: Sindia Sosdian

 

What is surfing?  What is a surfer?  Why does surfing take up so much of our time?  I don’t know if I have the answers to these questions and at the same time I believe I do.  That is, at least for myself I do.  Surfing, the experience and subsequent lifestyle it so entails is a very personal and intimate perspicacity.  I am not about to tell you how surfing should affect your life or what type of surf empiricism is best.  That is for you to decide.

It seems in today’s society, a society that is hell bent on creating one generic mass movement, surfing has sadly too become a victim.   With vigorous effort, the surf media has made a great effort to categorize each and every one of us in an attempt to make better marketable sects.  Only we as surfers have the responsibility to keep surfing unique and individual.  Just like every wave we ride is different, so is every surfer and his or her participation in the sport.   Surfers exist in so many facets and niches such as long boarder, short boarder, soul surfer, ripper, SUP’s, kooks, weekend warriors, hard core, air guy, style guy, hipster, etc.  Yet in the end we are all surfers no matter what we ride, how we dress, where we live, etc.  Our individuality merges with our love for the ocean and riding waves to allow us as a group to be called surfers.  To me we are artists who toil in an art that is gone as fast as it is created, though its experience shall be burned into our brains for eternity.

In my case surfing has been all I have known since I was eight years old when I stood up on a Styrofoam boogie board my mother bought for me at the local drug store to keep me out of her hair while she got a tan.  Little did she know her decision to entertain a child would consume my life for the next 26 years and counting.   Surfing made sense to me on a level I had never felt up until that moment.  Since then it has become the standard to which I have measured everything in my life.  It has become my art.

There are people out there that have found a way to balance a regular life with a surfing one.  To those I envy.  For me, on the other hand, ever since I caught my first foamy to the beach it was all over.  Yes I am one of those surfers.  The last 26 years of my life have been spent in pursuit of riding that next wave regardless of the consequences. I can be a tad bit unreliable, just as my date for the junior prom found out when I didn’t show up because it was double overhead. Of course one can always rely on the fact that I will never miss a day.

How can anyone forget a pre-session view such as this? Photo: Chris Lisanti

How can anyone forget a pre-session view such as this? Photo: Chris Lisanti

Instead I miss out (figuratively speaking and in terms of society, for in my opinion I have not missed out on anything) on all those moments of life that are glorified to verbatim in mainstream culture.  This was the choice I made at eight and one now at 33 I have yet to regret.  I have tried all of the other things that are supposed to make life worth living.  None of it worked for me, none of it made me feel the way I felt when I was eight.  The way I still feel every single day that I pull on my wetsuit, smell the wax as I rub it on my board, anticipating how my surf will go. The anticipation I feel as I walk down to the water’s edge with my board under my arm and the exhilaration of catching and riding that first wave; in those moments I am reminded of just how special and precious life is.

People ask me all the time why I have never “grown up” and acted like a responsible adult.  All I have to say is that at eight years old I figured out what made life worth living for me.  I think there are few people in this world that can say they still get as much pleasure out of something as they did when they were a child.  Maybe that is what makes surfing so special, it does to me at least.

My name is Chris Lisanti and I have devoted my entire life to surfing and have never looked back.  I am joining up with the Surf + Abide crew to bring my perspective on surfing and hopefully share my love, stoke and steeped knowledge of the sport/lifestyle (for me the two are inseparable).  I am not looking to preach a “holier than thou” message.  As I stated at the beginning, I am not about to tell you how to surf.   If you love and respect the ocean and take pleasure in its wonderment, then I am stoked to share a wave with you.  Surfing is an intimate experience between the participant and the ocean.

Chris Lisanti enjoying one of life's finer moments. Photo: Heather Rayburn

Chris Lisanti enjoying one of life’s finer moments. Photo: Heather Rayburn

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Chris Lisanti

Chris Lisanti grew up surfing on the Jersey Shore where a life long passion for the ocean was sparked. Since adolescence he has experienced every facet of surfing from a competitive professional, to a promotional free surfer. He has spent time working at the retail level and as an industry insider. By and by he has never lost sight of the true meaning and stoke of surfing. Chris currently lives in Santa Barbara California where he works as a chef and manages to surf nearly every single day no matter the conditions. You can enjoy more of his writings on his blog SurfingRuinedMyLife.net for an autobiographical satire of his own surfing life.

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