Flat spell. Such an apt name. As a surfer, a flat spell can cast a shadow over my life so dark that everything looks grey and dull. I just read an article in Surfer Magazine about how surfing affects serotonin levels. Surfers, apparently, are less depressed than average folk because we spend so much time in the ocean. However, what they failed to mention was that we must also bear the inverse of that. Being out of the ocean too long makes us sad. Not frowny face sad, but full-on Sylvia Plath head-in-the-oven-life-has-no-meaning sad. I’m in a flat spell right now –punctuated by a ripe and freshly broken heart. In fact, the broken heart and the flat spell may be in direct correlation. I am cranky and reactionary and frankly, I just don’t give a shit about much at the moment.
Watching surf movies and reading industry mags helps in the same way that listening to sad music helps the broken heart; by giving direct attention to the problem. Of course, some surfers choose the opposite approach and drink their way through flat spells (and break-ups). But I don’t drink anymore. Now I read instead. I have some friends who skate to offset the urge to surf, but I just don’t have the balls or desire to delve into that particular board sport.
But I hate being a Negative Nancy. I subscribe to the notion that thoughts become things. If you give too much energy to a particular negative thought or concept then that’s what you’re going to manifest in your life. In the same way I choose what words to publish here, I choose what thoughts I am going to publish in my life. So being sad for too long starts to feel like a cop out after awhile.
When I was powerlifting, my trainer instructed me to visualize each lift before I fell asleep. I do the same thing now before surf sessions and CrossFit WODs. I have to be able to picture myself succeeding before I can actually do it. Visualization for life is the same. If you can’t even imagine what you want, how will you ever get it?
Optimism and positivity don’t come easily to me and flat spell despondency makes it that much harder. It’s too easy to allow myself to feel victim to a cruel world and its cruel inhabitants. But that’s bullshit, and deep down we all know that. We each have the power to shape our own worlds. No one can affect us unless we let them.
Imagine listening to the same sad song every day over and over, eventually that song is going to bleed into your life. I have to turn off that song in my head and replace it with one that tells my story the way I want it to unfold.
On the way home from CrossFit a few days ago, I saw this blackbird on a wire silhouetted against the noon-white sky. He had a giant piece of moss in his little beak. He was so still. I saw that bird and I thought, “I am that sad bird.” But maybe that bird isn’t so sad, after all. Maybe as soon as I drove by, another blackbird came along and lead him to the tree of his dreams where he could finally build that nest.
In a couple days, the gulf will deliver or I’ll just get in the car and drive a few hours. Then my brain will be so flooded with that surfer serotonin that my broken heart will seem inconsequential and all the color and shine will rush back into my life.
AUTHOR’S NOTE On the upside, flat spells mean extra time for photo shoots in my underwear with the talented Scott Braun. This article is the first of many to feature images from the new photo set that explores my daily life around the home and home office.