You’ve made it out beyond the breakers, to where the ocean is ominous and electric. This is where the waves live. You’re ready and now all you have to do is… negotiate the crowd, evaluate the ever-changing elements and find the right position – all whilst maintaining complete awareness of where the pulsing energy of nature’s liquid heart will peak up and spill as your wave.
In an increasingly crowded world it’s not surprising that even surfing’s aloha spirit has given way to incidents of surf anger and even full-blown rage. Our world has limited space, limited resources and limited waves of opportunity at any one time. Greed doesn’t work, it creates anger, violence, hatred – ugliness. Many are the stories of a greedy man brought back to earth both literally and metaphorically. The key is to become the best surfer you can be, so you get your rightful share of waves. Being intrepid and creative can go a long way towards finding you waves in places where others might not be looking. Being bold will get you onto the biggest waves that most people are too afraid to catch.
In life you’ve put yourself out there, you’ve decided that you want something and you’ve done the hard work to get you to the brink.
It may be the job interview, it may be eye contact with the stranger, it may be saving up for your big investment. There are others wanting what you want, or perhaps the opportunity is fleeting, so how will you make sure you catch this wave?
Position yourself right. Before you paddled out you may have seen where the best waves were breaking, or where those wide ones broke when the sets rolled in. Find yourself a landmark, stick to it and don’t get dragged away by the current. You’ve set yourself a goal and you’ve invested a lot of energy – don’t lose sight of why you’re out there. It’s too easy to get swept away in life’s minutiae. Keep focused and maintain your position, even if you have to paddle hard to stay there. Remember, everyone else is struggling too. If it is too crowded or you’re not strong enough perhaps you’re surfing in the wrong place. Geography can simply transform your life. There are far more opportunities for waves in remote places – but you have to weigh up what you’ll miss about home.
Sometimes you have to be realistic and adaptable. Instead of competing against the crowd with a low chance of getting an opportunity, you’ll find freedom and peace sitting far to the side, waiting for those rogue ones that everyone else will miss.
You can also be friendly and flash a smile or say hello. In life, as in surfing, networking gets you places. Being positive and enthusiastic helps in a hypersocial world.
Some surfers hang on the shoulder of every wave hoping the person up and riding will fail, so they can grab it. People will always be hoping for you to fail. Don’t worry about it, you have enough going on – stop thinking and focus on your wave!
Sometimes there is no escaping the crowds and you just have to get involved. You’ll think some people have all the luck, seemingly in the right place every time. The more you practice the luckier you’ll get. When the wave you’ve been waiting for comes along and you’re in prime position, paddle with all the determination you have. People notice and they will pull back and let you go. If they don’t you’re probably surfing in the wrong place.
Be strategic and find a balance between being assertive, timid and greedy.
Line-up is the fourth chapter from Surfing Life Waves, a surf book about life, by Bradley Hook.