Borrowed Time: A Different Look At Morning Of The Earth

1) The Wicker Chest
Date: Yesterday
Time: 1400 hours
Location: Work

There is a wicker chest in Evan's office. It is adjacent to his couch and doubles as a coffee stand upon which the past months' issues of SURFING Magazine are spread. Evan places these mags on the ground in order to open the lid, and the thing is packed to brim with videos.

"Just make sure to return it in the same condition," Evan says, rummaging through it until he finds the one he's looking for.

Unlike many of the other videos, this one is in its original case. The movie's title reads "Morning of the Earth".

2) Progression
Date: Yesterday
Time: 1900 hours
Location: Surf Shop

The air is larger than life: A surfer clinging to his board is silhouetted by the merlot sunset in the background — the entire moment captured and enlarged so that it looms on the wall over fifteen feet big. Two of the other walls are lined with clothes, and the fourth one is boxed in by a glass display case with a register on top. On this wall there are framed pictures in chronological order that are iconographic to the different decades of surfing's history.

While I search through an arsenal of different shortboards that are kept in neat rows, I chuckle to myself as I notice the advertisement on the gigantic poster with the silhouetted surfer. "Since when did shoes have anything to do with surfing?" I think.

3) Morning of the Earth
Date: Yesterday
Time: 2200 hours
Location: Home

From the first wave on Albert Falzon's movie I'm hypnotized. It rolls on and on in an endless stretch, empty and gilded by the morning sun. Michael Peterson at Kirra, Nat Young at Broken Heads, Gerry Lopez at Pipe — seeing these innovators of the past draw fluid lines down the same perfect waves that are still breaking today, I'm invigorated. People don't surf like this any more, but it's not something to lament. It's just refreshing to see. Much like it's hard to tell that the earth is round when you're standing on it, I need this extra perspective to put my own surfing into context. The music, the waves, surfing's rich cultural past — this is more than watching a video, it's a sance.

4) The {{{Blazer}}}
Day: Today
Time: 0100 hours
Location: Down the block

"Just make sure to return it in the same condition," Josh's father says.

He's balancing on an unstable chair trying to reach above one of the cabinets in his garage.

Even though it's one o'clock in the morning I knew he would be awake. He usually spends this early hour of the day chiseling stone sculptures in his workroom. Besides his "income-job" as an electrician this is the only other way that I know of that he spends his time. Every once in a while, when the swell's really pumping, he'll take out his fish for a session; but that's only when it's really pumping. When I first met him several years back, he had told me that his "hard-core" surfing days stopped in the late '70s.

Josh's father brings down an old orange board, at first sliding it with his fingertips and then getting a better grasp with the full grip of his hand, that looks like the type I saw in Falzon's movie. It has a long, ten-inch single fin with a small hole in it for the leash, is three inches thick, and has a diamond tail. The board is caked in a thick layer of dust.

"I haven't ridden it since '78," he says. "But the thing just flies down the line like a fire bolt."

Josh's father hands me the board and laughs to himself.

"We used to call it 'The Blazer'."

5) Obligation
Day: Today
Time: 0900 hours
Location: Work

Evan suggests doing a {{{review}}} of Morning of the Earth. I type one up in the standard movie-review format — the who, what, when, where — concise and to the point, but I don't even bother to turn it in because it doesn't get across what I feel is important about the movie. So I try my hand at it again. This time I do it as an editorial, inserting tidbits of my opinion throughout an analysis of the differences and similarities between modern day surf films and Morning of the Earth. I toss this version too, because I'm still not able to get across the way it affected me.

I decide to take a break and end up zoning out remembering my morning surf session on "The Blazer". The waves breaking were some of the first ones we've had in a long while. I don't know what it was that possessed me and made me decide to put my session at risk by paddling out on a type of board I've never ridden before. I didn't even sleep the entire night because I was so amped on surfing like those guys I saw in the movie. There was something in the fact that it took place over thirty years ago that made it all the more powerful. I wanted to recreate the same exact feeling that they experienced. Suddenly, the simple act of riding a wave took on a whole new dimension of meaning, and I wanted to make sure that it was real.

When I get back from my break I'm still at a loss as to how to convey these thoughts the movie spawned. I decide to let the review write itself, and after I'm done with this I'll return the two relics I borrowed — as I had promised — in the same condition. It's a good thing I never made any similar promises about myself.