There’s something about surfing that keeps people who are older than 30 from trying it. It’s an athletic pursuit that is for the young, people who are less concerned about looking trying too hard. It’s for someone who’s less afraid to commit mistake, something that keeps those who are older from ever attempting to mount a surf board, wait for the right wave, and in the most opportune of moments ride the surf like nothing matters but the exhilaration of lording over an ephemeral wave that lasts a little longer than a good orgasm.
I don’t see how I will ever be able to learn how to surf. There are too many things to take into account before you experience the rush and the high of riding that wave. The right way of paddling to the middle of the sea, spotting the right surf, knowing when to begin standing up, reminding oneself that the front foot should be horizontal relative to the body and to bend one’s hip to maintain stability, and using one’s core to keep oneself from dismounting the board before the right moment–these and more have to be in one’s mind if he has to surf successfully.
I wish I learned how to surf when I was younger, back when I was more daring and less fearful of the opinion of the crowd on the beach. Surely, I know the crowd doesn’t care. They’re only interested in that one surfer who stays on the board longer than most, who rides the waves with careless abandon. The crowd doesn’t care about the tourist who miserably fails in keeping himself vertical on a board the size of one of the main doors of St. Peter’s Basilica pushed by a surfing instructor who identifies the right wave for him, who is in the beginner level and will remain in that level because it will be his last time to visit this beach as there are other beaches waiting to be visited in his lifetime.
It’s too late to learn surfing now. I’m too heavy for it, too awkward, less agile, ridiculous-looking in a pair of board shorts that will only look nice on someone with defined abdominal muscles.
Nonetheless, when the day is over and one returns the board he has rented and paid the instructor the amount they agreed on, what stays in one’s memory is that moment when he successfully stands on a surf board, even though it is only a little longer than climaxing.
Indeed, he will not go back to that beach again, will not attempt to learn surfing again, will tuck away in the farthest part of his wardrobe that pair of unforgiving board shorts, but he knows that the memory of riding the wave for a mere 5 seconds is something he can revisit in the future when things worsen, when age has permanently caught on, when dreams, hopes, even passion is paralyzed to a standstill.
That’s the beauty of surfing, of those little memories of islands of happiness. We, humans, need them.