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.

8 thoughts on “Surfing”

  1. Hey man I started surfing at the age of 35 (which I still am) about 3.5 months ago maybe more, and I’m finally going left and right now, I got every day I get a chance, I’ve taken up heaps of things since turning 30, professional wrestling have done multiple shows in the ring, bodybuilding competitions, and now this. I think it’s the age that I started having more balls and less cares (based on realising how short life is), I too wish I was taught to surf at a young age, I reckon I’d be ripping it now. But still can become a good surfer. I’m addicted to it, there’s no putting away my boardshorts, ad there’s no reason yours should go away either, get out there and get on some waves!

  2. Hi J,
    I only know surfing from the crazy folks here in Munich who do it on the Eisbach river. You can check it on several youtube videos, for instance

    The high season is in fact now, in the widdle of the winter at below zero degrees.
    Regarding your complains about a certain age limit for surfing talent, please consider it from the other point of view:
    Surfing is an excellent way not only to stay physically fit, but also to train the brain. The challenge of keeping ballance on an unstable board requires a lot of cognitive performance. Neurologists well agree that by doing it at whatever age is the best way of staying neurologically healthy (same like dancing). So it is hardly recommended to do it, does not matter how good or bad or attractive it appeares for the audience.
    best regards, Micha

    1. I often write with so much irony. You’re right, surfing demands mind and body synchronization and with it one can develop better cognitive health. It’s hard to imagine surfing in a river, but why not?

      I hope you’ll have time to visit the Philippines and surf in it’s warm seas. Happy new year!

  3. I so want to learn to surf but every time I’m in a place suitable to learn, I dip a toe in the sea and it’s freezing and that’s the end of my desire to learn to surf. Until of course, I come back home to the heat, and forget the coldness of the southern Australian oceans, and go back to wanting to learn to surf.

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