I remember my first time surfing — Ken Hook took me out to Linda Mar in Pacifica, California early on a chilly Sunday. I bought a wetsuit, borrowed a 9’6” ‘soul board’ from Ken and proceeded to inhale enough water to fill a bathtub. I got pummeled on the swim out and turned into a washing machine, never understood how to ‘turtle’ to take a big wave, and maybe got to a knee coming back in two hours later. I didn’t surf again for twelve years.
The swim out is the hardest part for me and I have always been a fairly decent swimmer, but swimming with waves crashing into you, getting pushed back 2-3 lengths for every 3-4 you go forward can beat you down both mentally and physically. There is a magic spot though, once you get past the waves, where you can sit on your board and feel the burgeoning swells grow under you and pass by without crashing on top of you. Whether you meditate, do yoga, or just find a shady spot and daydream — that spot past the blast zone is a similar place, one that lets you experience the power and the tranquility at the same time. It is a true gift.