The SURFING Blog: F.O.M.S.

Mavericks. Shoulda been here yesterday. Photo: Nate Lawrence.

Peter Mel, Mavericks. Shoulda been here yesterday. Photo: Nate Lawrence.

By Taylor Paul

Omar Etcheverry was the first person I ever heard use the term "FOMS," pronounced "foams," which stands for Fear Of Missing Something — the angst you get when you want to be doing X but you're stuck at Y. FOMS is a subtle but potent ailment.

For surfers, FOMS grows in proportion to the amount of swell in the water, and the distance you are from said swell. Like Tuesday, when I was sitting at my desk, shifting from side to side, and wondering which chair setting was best for my posture — trying to distract myself from the fact that it was opening day at Mavericks. I spent a grumpy, unproductive day checking winds, buoys, and Skindog's status updates from 396 miles away (I Googled the distance — classic FOMS behavior). Today I came into the office determined to cure my FOMS. I came up with these remedies:

1)Don't Google it.

Better yet, avoid your computer altogether. Your phone too. Technology fuels FOMS because it puts everything right there in front of your face, whether you're three or 396 miles away. Thanks to surf forecasts, you see the swell you'll miss a week in advance, then see everything in real time on the live cams as it happens. Sometimes you even recognize your buddy's style as he flies down the line on the bomb of the day. And in the evening you read about the bomb of the day on your friend's Facebook. If he's a horrible person he might even text you that "you missed it." Nothing spells a bad friend like those three words.

Shawn Dollar on a Mavs bomb worth bragging about. Don't listen, or FOMS wins. Photo: Nate Lawrence

Shawn Dollar on a Mavs bomb worth bragging about. Don't listen, or FOMS wins. Photo: Nate Lawrence

2) Lie to yourself

My friends and I used to do this on the drive back to SDSU after a bad night at the East County casinos. "Yeah, I had that extra hundred from my birthday, so I don't even really care that I lost it." Or, "Dude that was like three hours of entertainment for $100. It was totally worth it. Plus, we got free sodas." This works for surfing, too. Can't think of a way to justify what you missed? Choose one of these:

"Well, at least I was able to rest my (insert pseudo-injury here)."
"It was too crowded anyway."
"I would have had to put on a wet wetsuit."
"My (girlfriend, mother, dog) was thankful I skipped surfing to be with her."
"At least I was able to finish that project."
"It rained last week, the water's probably polluted."
"There will be other swells."

Repeat: "There will be others. There will be others. There will..." Photo: Nate Lawrence

3) Look ahead

Since there will in fact be more swells, the key is to put yourself in position to nail the next one. It's an "ounce of prevention's worth a pound of cure"-type thing. Be ready for the next swell and start sandbagging. Put in the extra hours at home so when you ask the missus to pick up the kids and then you show up late for dinner, she won't fuss. She'll remember your enthusiasm watching Project Runway with her a few days back. And put in the extra hours at work, too. That way when you take a personal day it seems justified. That's the reason I came in here today swinging for the fences — there are purple blobs brewing for next week, and I want to leave the FOMS to the unenlightened ones.

[Note: After filing this, Taylor promptly drove north for five days to see what he could find. Apparently, the waves are going to be big. We don't feel we're missing anything. Check back for the results of his mission.]