Waves are all around us. Light waves, sound waves, seismic waves, radio waves, electromagnetic waves, microwaves, gamma waves, elusive gravitational waves and quantum waves at the most minuscule level. We describe waves of relief, of success and anxiety, waves of sadness, heat waves, shock waves and brain waves. Your heartbeat itself is a series of waves reflecting your innermost energy, your life force, and can be easily seen on an ECG machine at your local hospital. Waves are the constant that underpin our reality – perhaps the source of all life. Even the recently discovered Higgs-Boson particle, sometimes called the “God molecule”, is detected in a wavelike motion.
With all this wave activity it’s easy to compare the scientific and metaphorical waves we know so well to the more abstract experiential waves we are faced with in life. Opportunities for success, failure, love and a universe of enriching experiences come to us in the form of waves every day.
Every opportunity is energy pulsing in synchronicity towards you. Using the approach of the surfer, arguably the worlds foremost experts in waves, you can harness the opportunities that colour your existence with more exuberance, less attachment and a lot more fun.
Surfing teaches many things: intrepidness, visualisation, patience, assertiveness, commitment, mindfulness, creativity and detachment – without us even realising it.
Without being intrepid we would not actively seek out perfect or uncrowded waves with unfailing dedication, often travelling to the ends of the world to find them.
Without visualisation we would never mind-surf waves, unwittingly preparing ourselves for those perfect days.
Without patience we would never survive crowded line-ups and the ocean’s intrinsic uncertainty. Without assertiveness we would never get waves at our busy home breaks or when surfing the Bukit Peninsula in Bali.
Without commitment we would not take those drops that scare the shit out of us but give us the biggest rush.
Without mindfulness how could you be consumed by the almost meditative experience of riding a wave: a perfect state of synchronicity and awareness with nature. I can’t imagine many surfers are thinking about dinner, their investment portfolio, or career opportunities whilst riding a wave.
Without creativity you would never progress as a surfer. Progression is all about balancing risk with creativity: trying new things. Detachment is the art of appreciating a wave as a limited, beautifully fleeting opportunity. You can’t capture a wave for it would become still water, waves flow in and out of our lives like a breeze.
Lessons from Surfing: A Practical Example
Let’s think about bad relationships. If only people in bad relationships saw that a relationship is a wave of opportunity. As a male I will use a female as an example, but modify to suit your preferences.
Picture a woman as a wave peaking up before you. She is sublime, beautiful, everything you dream of. You paddle with determination and commitment, and secure her. Of course other men were interested, but you did everything right, you got into position, synchronised, and become one.
The drop was like nothing else you’ve experienced, a euphoric rush of sex and delicious wonder. The world suddenly technicolour and the sun shining no longer from the sky, for she became the sun from which all else was illuminated.
The ride started well, all flow and speed. You even got a little cover up, and imagined wanting to spend the rest of your life like this. But then things began to fatten out. The shoulder grew wide so you cut back, trying to milk a little more energy out of the wave. Trying to get back to how it was.
This relationship seemed like it was going to reel off forever. Now you’re pumping along a foamy, almost at the sand. Are you really hoping it is going to reform into that perfect wave it started out as? Trying to do turns on a one foot foamy is ugly.
Sometimes it’s best to get out of the water and have a break. Or you can follow the way of the surfer by smiling with gratitude that you managed to harness a beautiful opportunity. Then paddle back out there to continue your search.
The way of the surfer is graceful. It is detached. You are not the experience, for all experience is fleeting. If you’re lucky enough to find the perfect partner, that ride will reel off like a wave from Snapper Rocks to Kirra. That will be your life wave. But one day it will end, when you or your partner’s life force fades away.
So don’t waste time. If you’re flogging a foamy or consistently catching the wrong waves you need to reevaluate what you want and maybe change your approach. Start anew or move along.
Buy the Surfing Life Waves book on Amazon.