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I have been surfing Southern California and other coastlines since I was ten years old; I am now fifty-eight and enjoy it no less than those first few years!
There is something remarkable that happens on your way to the beach, whether a long hike down a coastal trail or across the parking lot and railroad tracks to the sand. Your pace always quickens towards the water's edge. Is it ego that drives your need to be first? Is it the excitement and surprise of what the day might hold, or is it some gigantic magnet for humans to arrive at the place where the land, sea and sky meet together? Perhaps it is an ever-changing combination of all the above.
In my case, in my neighborhood, it is a long dusty trail down the side of a bluff. A well-worn trail, native rock polished smooth by the decades of foot traffic. The smells of the oceans tides, the pockets of intense heat off the cliff face, the snippets of ocean views between the scraggly-brush all add to the quickening of the pulse.
Your body's well aware of your gear you're towing on the long hike, everything growing heavier yard after yard. The mind picks up as if to ignore the uncomfortableness. Invariably, you begin to hum a tune or have an intimate conversation with yourself, at the same time the mind is going through a checklist of what's in your daypack, essentials, only essentials for surviving a day of surfing.
Arriving at the surfs edge, everything but the physical body is already in the water! A quick greeting to the day followed by such gratitude for what you are about to partake in! For me a quick stretch (I'll be sorry later), gear-up and check the rolling swell for a path out to sea. I'm free!
There is a separation of all thought, that first moment you jump into the ocean. All concerns and struggles are freely given away to the ocean, you are mindful completely to her, the ocean.
Whether the surf is smaller and fun or wildly huge and roaring, I can only assume that this feeling you get is like getting ready to fly! Flying is what we do. As a surfer only the soles of our feet are the last remaining connection to any solid surface, the rest of the body floats in the air and soars across space. For a brief moment, time and space are held in pause.
So it is that I surf, the decades of different patterns of waves. The colors and textures, each and every one an original, no wave ever the same, and still I am drawn to them like nothing before.
In as much as these great confluences come together, these great canvases of land, sea and sky? Beach mindfulness comes to me in always leaving the beach in better shape than you found it in. "If you pack it in, pack it back out." Pick up after the people who cannot see what you see, leave only footprints in the sand and part of your soul with the ocean herself.
One of my favorite quotes is one by Plato, 350 B.C.
"The great oceans are the sum total of all possibilities."
...And so it is.