photo by scott braun

photo by scott braun

I’m writing this in my underwear with sand still in my hair. My fin sliced a tiny chunk out of my middle finger yesterday and it hurts as I type, but I love it. I love every exhausted moment of my life. Yesterday, we drove 7 hours to surf 9 and a half (minus an hour for lunch). I saw the sun rise over Sebastian Inlet heaving huge, gnarly barrels. A sharp contrast to the gentle, lolling walls at Cocoa Beach last week. The mercurial nature of the sea. Sometimes she is a playground, sometimes a battlefield. My ability to power through an entire day of surfing on limited sleep always astounds me. In my everyday life, I can’t function without 6 solid hours minimum, but throw me in the middle of the ocean on 2 hours of sleep and I’ll kill it all day long; no question.

Last week at Cocoa, I paddled out on one hour of sleep. It was one of those stress-free sessions. Easy paddle out, nice swell, sunshine, good company. I caught wave after wave and did some sick turns (sick being a relative term). Progress, it felt like progress; athletically and emotionally. Brad’s leaving left a big hole in my life, and rather than contract to absorb it, my life has expanded to fill it. The quantity and quality of everything has improved; friends, lovers, work, surf. Abundance everywhere.

We left at four yesterday morning to reach the inlet by seven-thirty. I sat on the beach and watched people eat it, repeatedly. A long drop-in to close-out barrels that sucked surfers in and chewed them up rather than spitting them out. A 180 from last week’s trip, but equally awesome. I try to apply this concept to the company I’m keeping as well: not Brad, but equally awesome. I’ve traded my Starbucks coffee for Seven Eleven, but it’s hot, wakes me up and doesn’t come with such a high price.

Unlike other sports, surfing is unpredictable. The playing field is different every time. I’ve found that I have no attachment to any one set of conditions. There is no, “I wish it was different” or “why can’t it be like last week?” All that matters is the thing itself. The beauty is a deep and inherent thing, divorced from external factors. If only I could apply this concept to the rest of my life. It is no easy thing.

Another aspect unique to surfing is the frequent close proximity to pros. How often do you go to the tennis court and wind up next to Anna Kournikova?  Yesterday, Alek Parker was in the water with a photographer who instructed him, “No barrels, just airs.” Watching giant airs boosted right in my face was about the sexiest goddamn thing I’ve seen in awhile. Unfortunately, the attitude accompanying the airs wasn’t quite as sexy. I guess if I had someone in the water telling me what to do, I might be a little less stoked, too. After all, stoke is at least 75% freedom. I’m not sure what the other 25% is, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

… to be continued.. read the rest tomorrow.