Waves Of Change | Current, Flow, Change, and Letting Go

Waves of Change

Waves of Change

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
– Alan Watts

I’ve have been going through a life change recently, that for my little world, feels colossal and profound. I don’t think its reality has fully hit me yet, as I dance between the opposing emotional poles of a newfound freedom, or that of an agonizing emptiness. Yet despite my feelings in relation to the change, regardless of how uncomfortable and heartbreaking, it’s happening. Apparently, it needed to happen. The reason I say that is because no matter how much I swam against the current of change, it was to no avail. With vein attempts at grasping, trying to suspend myself to that which I had became attached, the current was going to have it’s way; whether I liked it or not. The rational and intelligent choice is to go with the flow, stop fighting the current, stop exhausting vital energy, and to simply let go. Letting go leads to change and change can be frightening sometimes.

The reality of change and our almost preprogrammed aversion to it, as well as its meaning, are things I’ve spent a good amount of time meditating on over the years. Change can be hard for many human beings, although constant change is happening around us and within us all the time. Comfort and familiarity are warm blankets to keep us content, yet our desire for what’s comfortable and familiar can keep us stagnant and stale, not lending itself to pushing us forward in the direction of growth. In order to grow, change must take place. Stagnation and routine must be stripped away, making room for something new to enter our lives. Comfort can feel like a kind friend, but as the years go by, comfort can turn to a slow bitter poison. Change forces us to let go, pushing us past our comfort zones, and moving forward into the unknown.

As the current of change sweeps over my life, remaining stagnant is not an option, as it is the equivalent to a death of sorts. I would be refusing the opportunity offered to me to expand and grow. So I’m going with the flow, seeing where it leads me, as I feel it may have a better idea of where I belong next than I do. The flowing currents of change have already brought me into a nice situation for the upcoming months. Perfect for surfing, writing, reading, and reflecting.

The subjects of flow, current, comfort, and change are things we all deal with in our lives on land. When we are surfing, current, flow, comfort, and change are themes that play themselves out throughout each session.

Where I surf, the current is a particularly powerful force on specific swells. It can be pulling so hard down the beach that staying in position becomes an art form unto itself. Normally I can find calm pockets near the main peak, sitting aligned with or just south of the jetty. Staying in the calm pockets, I keep my positioning nicely, while maintaining my strength. If I can’t maintain a position in one of those calm pockets, I’m sure to get dragged down the beach and the flowing current will sweep me far out of position for any set waves.

The ideal flow that I have found is when I get in the rhythm of the sets, connecting with a wave each time a set rolls through, and riding that wave to the shoreline. Then I can simply get out and walk back down to the jetty. Near the jetty the current is very strong, but you just go with the flow, and it nearly brings you right out into the line up on its own.

After a good set of waves churn up the waters and I haven’t caught a wave in the set, that is when I can risk getting caught in the current. As I find myself either getting pulled a bit too far outside or sweeping down the beach north of the peak, I paddle against the current, continuing to maintain my positioning. It’s brutal on the back, neck, and shoulders, especially when wearing a good amount of rubber to keep you warm in colder waters.

Keeping position on days like these is a combination of swimming upstream, or paddling against the current, and at the same time knowing when to go with the flow. No matter what your strategy is in the water, eventually the current prevails and as fatigue sets in, it’s always a good time to exit the ocean. Knowing when to call it quits during a surf session is a demonstration of going with the flow of change and letting go. We let go of the session, we feel light and free.

I’ve also found the themes of current, flow, change, and letting go, when it comes to my approach to surfing and what I use to experience wave riding. As I age and my body changes, it starts to operate differently than my other body I had ten years ago, or the one I had ten years before that. The body is changing, our minds are changing, we are constantly in a condition of change, so in turn, our surfing should also be in a constant state of change.

Finding new ways to ride waves, accessing things that are fresh to me, and keeping an open mind has become my process over the past few years. I’ve let go of old boards, “tricks”, and approaches that no longer make sense for me. I find surfing to be more meaningful now and of greater importance in my life. It serves not only as a super fun outlet for physical expression and refinement, it also speaks deeper truths that are universal and stand beyond the realm of surfing.

Surfing has taught me about current, flow, change, and letting go in a way I may not have otherwise come to if it weren’t for my time with the waves. As I empty my cup, each session, each day, each month, each year; there is a new lesson to be learned.

I’m flowing on and welcoming change.


All Photos: Fiona Mullen

"Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes." - Hugh Prather

“Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.”
– Hugh Prather

"Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." - Frank Herbert

“Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”
– Frank Herbert

"Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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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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