Are you as happy as Kassia Meador perched on the nose?
Though we continue to learn throughout our entire lives, your 20’s offer enough struggles to spark growth for a lifetime. I’m no exception to that idea, and I’ve come to realize that many of these lessons were solidified through surfing. Here, I share a couple of insights that can hopefully relate to anybody and the lessons that can be drawn from your experiences.
Never Be Quick to Judge Others
On an instinctual level, quick judgment was designed to protect us from danger. This “skill” is ingrained into us biologically, therefore making the habit hard to change. Surfing ultimately attracts all sorts of strangers into our daily lives. Our passion for the ocean and the thrill of what it provides has the ability, albeit momentarily, to put aside race, religion, gender, economic status, sexual orientation – the list goes on. We are, above all, there to catch waves, have fun and feel good, despite what may be happening back on land. I have met people through surfing from all over the world whom I placed immediate judgment on. More often than not, I found myself learning a thing or two from these exact people. I’ve become a more open minded, motivated and inspired person because of it.
We all have our faults, we all have our strengths, we all love the ocean, and both our similarities and differences should be respected.
Nature Is the Best Medicine for Your Struggles
As a person that has struggled with anxiety for my whole life and had suffered numerous big blows by the age of 23, I can tell you all about the power of immersing yourself in the natural environment. Through the hard times, I have been lucky enough to have people force me outside almost every day. Surfing fell by the wayside numerous times over the years, but getting out for a walk, smelling the salty air, feeling the dewy grass under your feet. When we look up and see the stars shining down it is virtually impossible not to be taken aback at the magnificence of the earth and to have the reminder that no matter our struggles, we are lucky to be alive.
When we look up and see the stars shining down it is virtually impossible not to be taken aback at the magnificence of the earth and to have the reminder that no matter our struggles, we are lucky to be alive.
There Is Power, Safety, and Strength in Community
The surfing community can be a tight-knit one. There is something special about belonging to a group that stands for something bigger than its individuals, all brought together by a common passion. My hometown of Raglan is a classic example of a community with a strong sense of environmental awareness, standing up together to protect what we love and care about. If we want to create change, to act sustainably and ethically, the truth is that we have to rise up together as a community. Whether the issue big or small, there is power in numbers.
Traveling Offers Growth Like Nothing Else
Surfing has taken me all over the world to places I would never have seen without the drive to simply find a good wave. Because of this, I have encountered people and places that have me gobsmacked, both positively and negatively. I have experienced the dark side, the desperate, being robbed at knifepoint, and having my room invaded. I have experienced the generosity of people that have nothing but have given all. I have realized too, that by venturing on these surfing missions, culture can be both beautiful, and dangerous. Traveling, in essence, has shown me that I am incredibly lucky to have options, to have my basic needs met, and to appreciate safety and companionship from most of those I have encountered so far.
To Live Well, You Must Find Passion
Since the day I started, this sport has driven almost everything in my life. Every morning, I continue to pose the question to myself, “I wonder what the surf’s doing today?” Through surfing, I live in a paradise, I have created an employment opportunity, I keep my health and sense of excitement and youth. It doesn’t actually matter if your passion involves surfing or not. I do believe, however, that having something which requires you to constantly learn and always pushes you outside of your comfort zone, is an incredibly satisfying, exciting, and precious thing to carry through life with you.
We Need to Protect Our Planet (and Each Other)
This is such an obvious point and I cringe when I think of surfers especially. Somehow, many surfers fail to make the connection between their actions and their impacts on the environment. You say you love to see wildlife in the surf, yet you continue to use plastic bags and put no effort into a recycle system. You comment on the water looking funky and dirty, yet you use chemically based washes and throw your ciggies out the window. Make the connection that your actions, big and small, have a direct impact on our world, the animals in it, and of course, your favorite playground: the ocean.
The Simple Things Are Always Going to Bring Sustained Happiness
Many people seem to be caught up in material wealth, achieving their next career goal, arranging their perfect house, and staying one step ahead of their peers. Though all of these things can be important to some extent, we always want more. Ironically, when we attain them, they are often still not enough. The moments we remember forever are those adventures with friends and family, the amazing sunset on that perfect pumping day, the luxury of having beautiful fresh food after a long session, and the simple thrill we get from riding a wave with speed. These experiences are golden and are memories that can never be taken away.
Life is many things. But somehow with surfing, it’s never boring. Lessons learned are often challenging, and only with hindsight do we appreciate their existence. I encourage you to take a moment to reflect, to allow the highs and the lows to sink in, and to remember, as surfers, we are the luckiest people of all.
Source: The Inertia