The importance of a good shared ride.
On a sunny Sunday in mid September my brothers and I met at the beach to celebrate my nephew, Canyon’s 2nd birthday. Nestled amongst the cobblestones of the Killer Dana cove, it was an absolutely beautiful day at Doheny State Beach. We always laugh, calling it the Waikiki of Southern California, watching as waist high waves peel perfectly amongst seemingly hundreds of floating surfers. And yet somehow amongst the mass of surf enthusiasts there was still a way to visualize my personal fun zone, tapping into the spirit of the place my brothers and I first learned to surf and are now getting to share with Canyon.
There is no better way to reflect that surf stoke than the essence of the “Big Love Boogie”. The boogie board, the universal fun machine. A float toy where everyone is welcome. Naturally, when it comes to introducing young Canyon to riding his first waves, it was an easy and obvious board to grab. It’s wild to imagine a more accessible first step into riding waves. Do you remember your first experience surfing? Where was it and how might that experience have affected what direction your surfing life went?
As a surfer, I always felt that the essence of wave riding belonged to two contrasting and conflicting paths: The first, a solitary quest to lose ourselves in the fleeting moments within mother nature. Flying along the curved surface of the wave as it folds into the golden warmth of the morning light all by yourself. Alone amongst the natural forces. It’s a calling so powerful it commands the complete being, and when obsessed can leave zero time to focus on anything else. Or the second vantage point, where the primary goal is engaging in the shared experience of riding waves together with others. Hooting for friends, smiles around enjoying mother nature with people only making your surf experience that much more rich. Sharing it. Although these two approaches are starkly different ways to approach surfing, both have their time and place to enrich our ocean connections as we continue to evolve in our wave riding dedications.
Now rounding my third decade of riding waves, I find myself expanding how I view my own personal purpose of surfing and how that contributes to my life. Where I once searched to fly, drive or run as far away from other surfers in search of my own “mental paradise,” recently the feeling of joy within the shared experience of surfing with friends has really begun to resonate with me. Friendship and surfing truly go hand in hand. Growing up with two brothers, our surf crew was naturally built in. Finding someone to surf with was easy, however with the unavoidable reality of always arriving in a pack, it seemed to instill a few basic core values. Like entering a crowded line up gently, giving more waves than you take and being aware of the natural flow of the local lineup hierarchy. Furthermore, if you are in a lineup with others, don’t be shy about striking up conversations and forging connections with the local crew in the water. As the sage old advice goes… “give and you shall always receive.”
The sand is crunching under my feet, bare to the sun and ocean breeze. Canyon is running around in circles, from one seaweed patch to the next in search of the rubbery little golden bubbles attached to the golden leaves.
We all laugh as bits of seaweed fly skyward. Patrick grabs the boogie and begins to slide it down to the water's edge, Canyon in tow. After all these years have passed here we are back again amongst this sea of humanity, the small rolling swell, the pelicans, and the salty smell of the harbor’s boats just upwind. I let off a hoot as Cayon gets pushed into a wave and flies by me, his mouth wide open, eyes bright with excitement. Waist deep in the water I grab the nose of the boogie board and push him back through the waves to Patrick not far off. It’s funny how even after all these years of chasing waves, some of my favorite ones I wasn’t even the one riding them.