“I have had that feeling where that’s it. That one moment you are riding the wave or jumping off that cliff is all that matters and your whole life is about that one particular moment. Everything’s clear, everything just is and that’s all that matters at that particular point. That’s probably why big wave riders keep riding big waves. They get that feeling and once you experience it, you want to get it back again. It’s euphoric in a sense. Everybody in big waves and I’m sure in all other sports, we all want that same feeling. Actually, everybody in life, for that matter, wants to feel euphoric, no problems, enlightened, all of these things at one moment where nothing matters except Being matters, you know? For me and my friends, and I’m sure big wave riders before and after me, that’s our channel to that feeling.” -Dave Kalama
Dave Kalama is a big wave surfer who lives on Maui. Now, when I think of a big wave, I think of maybe ten feet. But for Dave, that’s puny. When he says “big”, he’s talking more along the lines of fifty to sixty feet. Now don’t worry, you’re not alone. I don’t think I’d ever surf that either. I’m pretty chill when it comes to getting beat up by ocean waves, but the waves I surf are more comparable to that of a beating received by your older brother, whereas willingly submitting your fate into a “big” wave seems more to me like asking Dwayne Johnson to hit you in the face.
But that’s the cool thing about surfing. It doesn’t take much to experience the same euphoric feeling that Kalama gets when he drops into a fifty-footer. And I only know that because I’ve had the same rush, only I was cruising a two-footer on a buoyant long board. It was my first time catching a wave, and the reason it was so significant was mostly because I had already spent most of my morning tiring myself out from paddling out over and over again, only to bail or miss each set in its entirety. I was pretty much ready to give up and go home, so I decided I would just ride the next couple of waves in. As I was heading back to the shore, angry with myself for succumbing to my fear of falling, an internal battle occurred. I’m extremely competitive, even with myself, so I made a last-minute and final decision to catch a wave. I laid down on my board, facing the shore, and instead of looking back multiple times like I usually did, I kept my head straight forward and paddled with all the strength I had left. I almost panicked as I heard the wave crashing behind me- they tend to sound a lot bigger than they actually are- but I had made my decision, and I was sticking to it. The wave crashed almost on top of me, and though my board began to wobble, I kept my body as straight as possible and kept paddling. Then, I felt that amazing feeling where you know you have successfully caught a wave because you are directly in the middle of it’s power. I waited it out for a second, stabilizing myself until finally, I managed to stand up, one foot at a time, and take the wave in. I rode that wave until the fins of my board started to scrape against rocks and sand. I just couldn’t get enough of that feeling! The head rush, the adrenaline, the pride, the CLICK!- where you just know you’ve reached a new level in your surfing abilities and it can only get better from there.
That click is what I believe can turn any surfer into a big wave surfer. Just like what Dave Kalama is talking about, you get that feeling where nothing else matters except being. What a simple and profound way to say it. How many times throughout the day are you able to be content with the simplicity of being? But that’s what Dave says you feel. And if it is so difficult to attain that in everyday life, it’s no wonder big wave surfers risk their lives everyday for that euphoric experience.
Check out videos, interviews, and inspiration on Dave Kalama’s blog: A Waterman’s Journal.
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