Submerged up to my waist in the frigid blue water, bathed in the orange hum of dusk, watching the sun disappear behind the earth. In the distance there’s a plane, flying parallel to the horizon, shining like a lantern because way up there the sun hasn’t set yet. Then a wave comes bellowing out of the depths and tumbles me like bug and the world is a three dimensional place and I am a part of it. If you live near the ocean or large body of water, consider yourself lucky. You have an opportunity to feel insignificant in a way that most people have to drive to a canyon or get lost on a mountain to experience. And if you live near the ocean or large body of water, take advantage of it. Most of us drive by the water at 65 and barely give it a second glance, watch it calmly lap at the sand when it’s tepid and docile, or pitch and groan in the rain when it’s mad. But few of us have taken the time (and risked the effort) to step out into it and feel it in our bones. To be a tiny unnecessary part of a complex organism that’s been churning since the earth was cool. This summer I challenge you to get out there and experience the water like a man. And by that I mean, I challenge you to float out on some contraption that fills you with an over inflated sense of security and do everything you can not to drown. Here are some suggestions that will leave you feeling fit, energized and utterly arbitrary.
Everybody says they want to learn, and many of us do manage to paddle out and flop around once or twice, before quitting because of one fear or another (deep water, sharks, tribal tattoos etc.) but if you give surfing your full attention, or at the very least a portion of it for a little longer than a week, it can be a truly life changing experience. First of all, the physical benefits are pretty obvious, just flip open a Surfer Magazine if you don’t believe me. But on top of that, there are few other activities that allow you zen like tranquility and idiotic glee over and over again over the course of a few hours. The intermittent dashes of intense boredom, punctuated by abject terror will put some hair on your naughties too. But if your naughties are hairy enough, then might I suggest…
Stand up paddle boarding
It’s making a big appearance amongst some of the more mellow surfer types and for good reason. It’s a great way to enjoy the ocean without having to deal with the crowds in the line-up or the crash and crush of the shore break. You can just paddle around and smell the ocean breeze. Meditate on how yolked you’re getting. Find your center while you tone your core.
It requires the most gear, but it’s a great alternative for those of us who have a little more Ahab and not as much Ariel. You don’t have to get wet, you’re not required to stand up and balance and if a shark attacked you, you’d have that wicked oar to bonk him with. Plus, it’s great for your shoulders and back. And bonking sharks is great for your sex life.
Kellen Burden is a novelist, freelance writer, rock climbing instructor, avid surfer and he fought a bear once. His novel “FlashBang” is available at amazon.com. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org