Greg Long, Mavericks. Photo: Glaser
Greg Long, Mavericks. Photo: Glaser

Surfing Through the Insanity

I don't know what to make of this world today, so I'm going surfing

This is a very good day to go surfing. Most days are, to be sure, but it’s especially necessary on a day like today, after waking to the horrific news in Las Vegas. I don't know what else to do, but I've got to do something. I've gone on record arguing that surfing has entirely too much spirituality foisted on what's essentially a meaningless activity, but today, I will go surfing to take solace, to have my spirit buoyed, to forget about all the horrendous bullshit, even if just for a precious hour or two.

There will be time for (fruitlessly, no doubt) hashing all of this out in the political arena, as many of us (again, louder this time) raise our voices against the powerful interests and their apologists that keep deadly weapons so readily accessible. There will be time for asking important questions about where this country is going, asking why each morning means going online or turning on the radio or with a heightened sense of anxiety as we expect more distressing news about acts of violence, or natural disasters, or economic failings, or environmental ruin. Those times are coming and there will be a reckoning.

In the meantime, during moments like these (which have happened far, far too frequently in recent years) it's easy to fall victim to hopelessness. To nihilism. To anger. And that's why I'll go surfing. That’s why I’m thankful, when things get their absolute darkest, that surfing is there.

This isn't a hedonistic excuse to just throw up my hands and say "f–k it." I'll need strength when it's time to fight. I'll need hope when it's time to confront the unpleasant realities of working toward the growth this batshit insane (it must be said) country needs. And to kickstart all that, I'll need to find a place to compose myself, a place that makes more sense, a place that reminds me that everything isn’t awful. I'll need to feel the mindless joy of finding the perfect trim line, or the wonder of watching a perfectly-formed barrel spin off unridden down the beach. I'll need to hoot a complete stranger into a wave, and it will feel even better to do so if I'm actually in position to go. I'll need that little golden jolt of purpose and energy and well-being that surfing will provide like nothing else can in my life.

If only the people who are poised to commit awful acts in this world had something that gave them that same peace. Because we're incredibly fortunate to have something like surfing in our lives. Though it can be life-affirming, thrilling, terrifying, and almost unbearably frustrating, most of the time, it's just simple, pure fun.

And right now, that's what I need. That's what we all need.