“You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.” –Old man in Louie Shwartzberg’s short film ‘Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.’
These wise words are a creed worthy of living by. These wise words can also be a creed worth surfing by.
Holidays are fast approaching. Winter is here, meaning less sunlight and more time to think about gifts and what we are grateful for.
Here in Hueneme, winter fog has been hanging around with us lately. Splatterings of rain and sun intermingled. Even more notable is the raging winds for the past week and a half. Blowing upwards of 20+ knots. Unsurfable. In the mornings before the winds speed up, though, the water is mostly calm and glassy.
Waves don’t ask much of us. Waves do not expect payment in cash, credit or check. They do not ask for a first born child. The most important thing they call upon us to give them is respect. When one does not respect the power of the ocean and the waves, that’s when things take a turn for the worse.
If we can paddle remembering that each wave pulsing toward us is a gift given, a special earthly phenomenon we get the pleasure of enjoying, then our surf sesh will always be one well worth paddling out for. And as the cultivation in gratefulness transpires into respect, each waves will get what it deserves. And we can keep ourselves from getting overpowered or hurt by oceanic forces.
If you have spent any time at the beach, it is agreeable that our ocean is grand. All the life sustained within is a gift of absolute beauty. Crashing waves on sandy shores, dolphins jumping and pelicans plunging, thick sea fog slowly rolling in from distant islands and engulfing the coast.
Now a day, there are so many people wanting to join in the wave joy. It is not an uncommon experience to deal with agro surfers- snaking waves, avoiding eye contact, even yelling at others for being in their way.
This is not what surfing is about. Nobody is entitled to a wave, or all the waves they can paddle for. The less entitlement we allow ourselves to feel and the more gratefulness we cultivate, the better the surf world will be.
I am a huge fan of, and believer in, the saying, “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.” I believe we all want to be one of the best, or at least really good, at something. Why not practice being really good, even great, at being grateful?
So paddle out, say thank you, and be grateful for the gift of each wave.