After Broken Head
I swim up through the remnants of whitewater and pull on my legrope to find my board. I grab it and get back on, paddling immediately back out towards the break. A few seconds in, I remember how strong the rip is and start to pull harder through the water… My arms are already burning and I’m trying to use my stomach muscles and lower back to paddle. Argh! This sucks.
I want to be strong, I want to be fast through the water and I curse my pathetic arms, my small shoulders and my weak stomach. I curse my body that remains, and will always remain, so new to surfing, to this action of moving through the ocean water and currents. A youth spent dancing and walking and travelling and reading has built and conditioned my mind and my legs, but my surfing body feels weak and small and not up to the task. Fuck this! I go in and walk back around.
I walk through the waves until there’s a break in the set and I jump back on my board and paddle hard.
I struggle to keep my mind low in my body, instead it jumps to my shoulders all the time, raising my centre of gravity, making it dance above the water, not within it.
Surfing. I’m still learning to pull and stretch and grimace and throw myself around, to risk taking off on waves that frighten me, and to become comfortable with the speed and strength of the water. A ballet-filled childhood that developed my sense of aesthetics and a need to make things look easy and smooth and in form, is not so useful here in this space, in this time. I need to learn to growl and crawl and roll and twist and fall and be human – a primitive unconsciousness that reminds me more of sex than any other activity. Don’t think, just do. An experience that is built on body memory and feeling and intuition not, as with everything else I’ve been able to achieve in my life, on thinking. It challenges everything that I know.
It’s commitment, it’s patience, it’s losing your ego, it’s laughing at yourself, it’s listening, it's doing it anyway, it’s regressing. It’s yelling and laughing and dancing and swimming and sinking.
It’s beautiful and human.