the problem with being a very old ex-surfer
The problem only exists in the more mature amongst us, the ones who have long given up surfing for a myriad of reasons: wife, health, geography, blood circulation, strength of will, wealth, substance abuse or just a general disinterest in riding waves because all riding waves is, is just riding waves – the ledger of life has more pressing matters to consider.
After sixty plus years of surfing a melancholy condition at times governs our vision of the breaking sea as we wonder along the shore like a vagrant, bent over, stooped, contemplative, looking for treasures amongst the sea wrack and driftwood piled up against the dunes, ignoring the helter skelter of youth as the rush past on their way to – riding waves.
At these times a man might look up and out to sea to watch the surf, not with any urge to paddle out, those days are long gone, but just to see how the waves are breaking, and it doesn’t matter whether they are big or small, onshore or offshore, hollow or fat, left or right, closing out or peeling – because all we see is their ride-ability. The edge, the barrel, the wall … the stage.
Because a wave is not just a wave to a surfer.
We plant our ego on it and imagine speedy lines, deep cover-ups, meaty gouges, sheets of spray. Hoots and whistles from the pack. A magazine pic, a moment’s fame.
Some old boy was fishing at Lighthouse Beach the other day, armed with a ten-foot split-cane rod and ancient bakelite reel, hoping for a bite on the inside channel on the half-tide. So I wandered over with a pile of driftwood in my pocket and stopped by his side,
‘Good waves today, you reckon?’
He turned and looked at me, then out the back.
‘I don’t really know, mate, I’m just here for the fish.’