I've been obsessed with surfing lately. I'm watching surf movies, I'm reading surf blogs, I'm falling asleep covered in surf magazines. I think about it all the time - remembering the lessons it's taught me, wondering if I'll be able to improve. I think about those first few steps into the water, and no booties day, and long, smooth rides.
Last week I was thinking of a session I had with Jules late last summer. It was after the EPIC SAGA of me getting to the point where I could actually stand up on the board, and I had been riding pretty consistently for a few months. After how long it took, it's crazy to think of sessions where I was up on my feet taking nice rides on every try, but that's just about where I was. After doing that session after session, I asked Jules, what happens next? Now what?
I was certain that my curiosity, my drive to learn would be rewarded with a little glimpse of the Next Steps; that my question would cause my Sensei to reveal the next section of the map.
Jules' reply, and I think this is verbatim, was, "That's the sickness of the human mind."
I honestly thought she had heard my question wrong. I just looked at her until she continued, saying that we're always thinking about the next thing, the next steps; we can never just appreciate where we are and what we have and just be.
I went surfing last Friday. I'd been looking forward to it all week. The awesome shop owner let me take out another board to try (seriously - no charge; I just walk in and walk out with another board. Is this what family feels like?) It was an 8'6" and what a thrill to start a ride with my toes hanging over the bottom edge. I've never done that before. It's not hard to pop (I mean, that's still a whole lotta board), but I had a hard time finding my footing on the deck -- always too far back, which puts on the "breaks". I had a couple ok rides, nothing amazing, and a lot of fun wipe outs, including a few front-somersaults. I always like those because I feel like those mean I can leave a session feeling like I really gave something - it's easy to fall off the board, but it takes a special effort to lose myself to the degree that I completely spaz out and catapult myself into space. In public. Csikszentmihalyi would approve.
The technical part is this: I felt better on the 9'2" than the 8'6", but I'm having a hard time thinking of laying down money for a whole new board for 8 inches. (My current board is a 10'.) For some reason in my mind, I'd rather buy an 8'6" because maybe I'll be challenged by it longer. (Like, forever?) In Costa Rica, they were going to move me from a 9'2" to an 8'6" the day before I left, so that makes me think I'm ready. But in CR, they were short boarders teaching us to eventually short board. Here my peeps are lovely, luscious long boarders. When I returned the borrowed 8'6" on Friday, I told the pro working the shop that I liked it but I wasn't sure what to do. He said, "No question. Go with the 9'2"." The other part is that I think some of what makes me hesitant to really go for it out in the green is the mammoth-ocity of my board. The 8'6" just feels like less to get smacked in the head with.
(This just in: That entire paragraph is some crazy-ass shit. Three years ago if you would have told me that in May of 2011 I would be debating what to go with for my second surfboard, well, I would have said, "That's the sickness of the human mind." Just kidding.)
The non-technical part is this: Jules was right. She's still right. I am having a hell of a time right now because I have no interest in just be-ing, in sitting with the details in my life. It's like my life is a dodgy acquaintance I'm constantly trying to lose. I hate to be another 40-year old having another mid-life thing, but: this isn't how I pictured it. I know, I know, but it's not.
I'm working it out. That's all I can say.