The art of being an outsider

Photo Credit: Ursel Barwinski

It was a disease. If I knew in advance what were the risks of falling in love with the sea, maybe I would have thought more carefully about my decision of jumping in the freezing ocean with a wetsuit that makes me feel like a seal. Maybe I would have started school before, just to make sure that I got my education. Maybe I would have not even jumped in the water. Maybe I would have stayed an observer, someone that is watching from afar. It always hurt less, when you don’t feel directly. When you’re not connected to something. 

But, I was young, careless and didn’t think much about anything except getting new adrenaline rushes - I wanted to feel my heart beat in my chest, ready to crack all my bones. Youth - such a beautiful, and immortal feeling. I grabbed the board, ran to the ocean, paddled with exhaustion and without any caution, the waves were slowly teaching me their mechanics, allowing me to understand the beauty of the world. I was nothing, but felt everything. As I slowly tumbled into the water, hitting my head with my huge board and getting pulled by my leash, I felt happiness. An immense feeling of joy and pleasure fulfilled my body while being crushed by the sea. Beauty is sometimes found in destruction, I believe.

I didn’t belong to the ocean. Like you, like your parents and like the guy paddling next to you in the lineup, I was an outsider. I wasn’t supposed to feel the magic the sea could bring you. I didn’t know anything about the ocean, either about the waves, either how to surf. But, like you, I got fascinated about something unknown to me, something that felt inaccessible. And since that first wave that almost drowned me in the water, everything became one thing - my mind was now constantly switching to a departure mode.

The list of where to go next was endless. The people I would encounter. The feelings I would get. The places I would see. The culture I would discover. I was in love with the world, and it was sudden, like a wake up call: that’s what surfing was. It was a feeling that you wouldn’t even try to explain, because there is no words. It’s just… a reality check. A reminder that you’re here, you’re alive, the nature is there to be discovered, and the world is waiting for you. 

Credit photo: Jeremy Le Chatelier

Credit photo: Jeremy Le Chatelier

When I go through all this again, I find myself wondering, would I choose not to jump in the water instead? Would I prefer to be an observer, keeping my heart away from any reach? It sounds like an easy solution, I admit. But, is a life really worth living without surfing? 

Without surfing, there would not be any kind of appreciation for the water that surrounds us. We would not care about our ocean, either our rivers. We wouldn’t have an inspiring community to be part of, all passionate about the same thing. We wouldn’t have the friends we have now, either the experiences we can recount when talking about our surf trips. We wouldn’t be able to know what pure joy is, way better than any drugs. We wouldn’t be able to know the feeling of connecting with something, freely. We wouldn’t be able to disconnect from the world for a while. And, without the ocean, without the sport of surfing, I would not be who I am now. 

No matter where you’re from, what you look like, what language you speak, what kind of waves you surf - we are one. That’s the beauty of surfing, and I would not exchange it for anything else in the world. 

We would be curious to know your experiences with surfing. 
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