By Hans Elderman / @old.hand.
Surfing, in the widest sense of the term, is often described as an expression of the soul’s connection to nature. They say that in surfing we tap into the current of the universe, to tide and time; we relieve our stress, release our tension.
Most of us feel that if this isn’t straight up bullshit, it’s not entirely true to our own lives. In equal parts the experience, and our subsection of surf culture, is like a randomly chosen soundtrack on a randomly chosen boog flick – rage punctuated by a little melody.
Hard to escape the rage.
Look at the weekend session. It’s small and onshore and before sunrise the hoards are pouring over the coast, competing for places to slot RAM pickups; poor waves crowding in the pre-dawn dim.
We rage at the thought of competition, protecting space in the line-up, being snaked and burnt.
We rage about a SUP somehow sitting sixty metres out and sliding past you where the peak hits the reef.
Sometimes, quietly, we rage that even if we were in the same position as the SUP, we couldn’t have surfed it as good as her.
We rage that others think our sport is easy.
We rage because we know, to a degree, that it’s easy, but also because even relatively talented riders live within a long plateau. After all these years revs left and right, off the top, out the pocket, on the flats, are by no means on lock. We feel they should be.
Even the sun above can make you rage. Seared face, wrinkling too young, you look like your uncle already. Funny you first notice, via alpha codgers in the line-up, that we rage because we age.
In the end we rage against the bodies we have to live within.
Big rage for the little ligament in your wrist which just won’t heal. Whatever it is; scapholunate, adductor, rotator cuff. Rage against the fact that you followed every expert’s advice to the letter and nothing got better. This is good rage.
You eat well, drink well, sleep well enough, treat others how you would like to be treated. Religiously you did the Iain Campbell workout and followed Mike Stewart and Jake Stone to the tutelage of Paul Chek. You pulled, pushed, lunged and squatted. You entertained obscure Chekian shit, parasites and shit, even though it is unclear whether the man was a genius or a crackpot or just a canny businessman. Kingy and Joe Clark did good from the guy. You want revs like them and Stoney. But there’s a ligament, a tender tendon somewhere in your body that’s been decaying since you reached your peak physical prime, somewhere back around puberty, and it can’t and won’t ever be the same again.
Like it or not, the soundtrack that plays in the head is metalcore; distortion punctuated sparsely by peace. Sooner or later you’re going to have to pay more attention to it, to melody and rests. It’s possible that rage is not really there as often as joy, it’s just that its aftertaste lingers more pungently, or yells louder.
Rage comes but also goes, all the time. Here again, gone again, here again, gone again.
Watch it pass, react less, live beyond boog. Kind of acceptable advice. In life beyond boog, Jake Stone supplemented Chek with Ram Dass, and he seems to be going pretty good.