The Beauty and Potentiality of Empty Waves

Do you see the possibilities?

Do you see the possibilities?

“Emptiness which is conceptually liable to be mistaken for sheer nothingness is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.” ― D.T. Suzuki

When I was 13 years old, I was watching a swell build from the beach with a friend. It was choppy and coming in all over the place, what we referred to as “victory at sea”. It was too windy for us to skateboard, so we continued to watch what we were hoping would be clean and solid sized surf in the morning. I imagine  at some point boredom set in, and soon after we decided it would be a good idea to start wrestling and playfully fighting each other in the sand. No rules applied, except that when asked to “stop”, the winning opponent had to yield. We did this for a good half hour before our fake fighting started to get the level of actually becoming dangerous. Someone was going to get hurt if we didn’t end our bouts of aggression, so we agreed to one last round.

My memory isn’t entirely clear on every facet of the last round as it happened so fast and it was some 27 years ago. I do remember getting flipped onto my stomach, while my friend speedily jumped onto the waist high boardwalk. As I began to push myself up to get to my feet, he leapt off the boardwalk straight onto the center of my back, then I proceeded to let out a high-pitched scream. The scream sounded somewhat like live recordings I’ve heard of Led Zeppelin when Robert Plant goes into one of his vocal fits that sound more like orgasmic beltings. Whatever had happened was quick, it was painful, and I couldn’t get myself to my feet. My friend helped me up and he noticed my right arm was longer than my left. We began walking back to his house and he was cracking jokes about my scream…maybe I had a future singing in a metal band. As I was laughing, I could feel bones painfully grinding together in my shoulder region. When we walked in his front door, his mother took a look at me, as she was a nurse at a local hospital. All I seemed to care about was if I was going to be able to surf the following day, she asserted that I most likely wouldn’t be surfing for a while. After a visit to the hospital and a few X-rays later, it was determined that had broken and dislocated my shoulder. There was no casting involved, I was just given a bracing apparatus that felt like a straight jacket and an instant bummer.

The next six weeks felt like six years as I wasn’t able to surf or ride a skateboard. My friends seemed to get great pleasure torturing me about all the sick waves I was missing, as I was barely able to carry my books down the school hallway. Although I couldn’t surf, I did hang out at the beach, and I became quite good at mental surfing. Honestly, my mental surfing was much better than my actual surfing, as I could perform just about any maneuver I could imagine. I began to appreciate watching the empty waves, not only for their unlimited potential as they related to surfing, I also started to see the pure beauty they intrinsically possessed on their own.

Ocean waves, energy that travels a distance through the medium of water, to eventually briefly manifest as a rideable formation on our local sandbar or some exotic reef are wondrous phenomena we tend to take for granted as surfers. Below is a gallery of empty waves as captured by a young photographer by the name of Chris Kinsel. Feast your eyes and free your minds, taking in the beauty and potential these waves have. I’m sure you’ll be enjoying an ecstatic session of mental surfing in no time.

To inquire about prints contact Chris Kinsel 

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Do you see the possibilities?

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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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