Few activities in life can match the unusual calm and explosive action surfing offers. When caught in the grip of such incredible natural forces, it’s hard not to learn a little bit about life in the process.
Lesson 1: Patience Pays
Surfing teaches a lot of patience. Patience while you learn. Patience while you agonize over what board to buy. Patience on days when the waves aren’t there. And patience while you wait for the right wave to come along. There is a reason why people think surfers are laid-back and casual: surfing has taught them to be. Over time, patience enters into every part of a surfer’s life.
A long line at the grocery store? That’s nothing compared to that day I waited an hour to get an awesome wave. Patience pays while you’re surfing, too. First, it lets your mind slip away from all its worries while you gently bob in the water. Next, is having all that patience rewarded with just the right wave. Finally, when the ride is over, and the thrill is gone, you know you have to wait to feel it again.
Lesson 2: But Floating Along May Lead To Nowhere
You can sit on a surfboard all day and not get anywhere. Up and down, to and fro as the waves pass under barely moving you. It’s a good metaphor for life. If you just go along, never taking action, things will happen around you, and you might even enjoy it a bit, but you’ll stay on that road to nowhere. If you do not change anything, nothing will change.
Lesson 3: So Seize Opportunities
Surfing teaches you reasonably quickly to recognize a good wave, a great wave, and a bad wave. It’s often a subtle thing, and determining when to make your move takes some practice and experience, but the only wave a surfer ever regrets, is the one she lets pass her by. Life is very similar. Most people tend to regret the things they didn’t do, the chances they didn’t seize, more than anything they did. Surfing helps develop good judgment to know when to go for it, and a skill like that is invaluable in life.
Lesson 4: Find Balance
If there’s one thing you have to have to surf, it’s balance. The exciting thing, though, is that finding balance when you surf is a constantly changing endeavor. Water can be a little unpredictable, as can the energy flowing through it, so even though you find the right balance to stand up, you can’t rest on your accomplishment. You must continuously seek to retain that balance to see it through to the end.
That’s a good life lesson. In life, you may find yourself in a good place. Good work/life balance, good family/friends balance, and so on. However, you always need to work to maintain that balance. As soon as you stop doing so, well, you might just crash and burn in a vital part of your life. Surfing teaches you that doing the work to maintain your balance is entirely worth it.
Lesson 5: And Lean Into Life
Surfing is not walking. It is not driving or jumping or doing a somersault. Surfing is the pinnacle of understanding your environment, working with it, working with your own body, and ultimately leaning into it. You have to develop trust that you can bend this way or that to maintain yourself, to keep going. You can’t just stand there, or the power of the wave will knock you right over. Life is like that, too. Once you jump into life, you have to lean into it. You have to lean whichever way you must to keep moving forward, even when logic tells you it doesn’t make sense. It’s the only way to keep moving.
We love to surf, and we love everything it teaches us about ourselves and life in general. When you’re ready to experience that too, go for it.
Captivated by the ocean at a young age, Souf Tihhi founded San Diego Surfing School in 2000 to share his love for the ocean and his passion for a sport that others will enjoy for the rest of their lives. For more information visit www.sandiegosurfingschool.com.