Being by the ocean inspires me, it gives me a feeling of happiness, freedom and respect. I have been attracted to surfing from a young age, the art, the culture, the places and of course the activity itself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no professional, but I truly love spending time in the water and have been lucky enough to live in some amazing places where this is part of the lifestyle.
I’m going to write about two separate surfing experiences, both of which had a significant impact on me as an individual. Like most of the ‘Adventure Series’ articles, it’s about more than the activity itself, it’s about the feelings you get from your environment.
My first ever sunrise surf was in Christchurch, New Zealand. I’ve not experienced a sunrise like it since and it will forever be carved in my memory. It started how a lot of my morning surfs start…early and getting changed into a slightly damp smelly wetsuit hopping around the back of my van. Swiftly followed by the walk down to the water’s edge, wading in and waiting for the cold shock to seep through the neoprene.
There was just my mate and I, paddling out beyond the peaceful breaking waves before the sun was even up. We both sat on our boards as the waves gently rolled beneath us towards the shore, enjoying the tranquillity of the empty beach, empty line up and empty car park. I remember surfing nice small rolling waves, clean and green, but that’s not what made the experience so memorable. When the sun finally came up, it was truly breath-taking (the cold water helped). The sun was huge, it sat on the horizon for what seemed like forever, the sky filled with red, orange and pink as we both stared in silence at what was happening. In that moment, watching the sunrise, I had nothing else to worry about, there was no sense of urgency, every movement seemed easy and I was consumed by that moment in time.
In day to day life I have the odd feeling of being “in the moment”, but they are a far stretch from the feelings of that day. The power of moments like that feel unexplainable, it’s the type of thing I wish I could bottle up and keep. A feeling of complete relaxation, inspiration, and contentment. You have not a care in the world whilst also feeling completely focussed and in tune. This is the power that moments in the outdoors and nature can provide.
My second surf snippet is from the east coast of Yorkshire last year, a far cry from New Zealand but beautiful in its own way none the less. It was October, so the sea was pretty chilly and the air temperature wasn’t exactly tropical. I woke nice and early, wrestled into a damp 5mm wetsuit, hood and boots then did the nervous trot to the water’s edge. The sea looked far from tranquil, big waves dumping murky water towards me as I waded out. I stood there contemplating the best way to get beyond the break unscathed. Eventually I felt the time was right to go for it, I paddled through the gap in the sets and after what felt like a mile of paddling I was sat out the back of the breaking waves, heart going like the clappers and just happy to have made it. Each time I caught a wave or attempted to; it was a battle to get back behind the set on my 7 ft board. I was completely exhausted, paddling constantly to stay in a safe area and not drift. The thick wetsuit makes paddling hard work, the cold water gives you brain freeze and at times I felt really out of my depth with the size, speed and strength of the waves. I remember leaving the water feeling cold, knackered and to some extent beaten by the conditions, however, the experience shared many of the same feelings as my sunrise surf in Christchurch.
Two polar opposite surfing experiences that I will never forget and frequently draw upon for inspiration. The same theme runs throughout both mornings, I felt ‘in the moment’, consumed, completely at one with my surroundings, my mind never wandered, it never strayed, it stayed completely focused, whatever the temperature, whatever the conditions, I was there and only there.
I believe outdoor experiences can provide some of the most impactful and memorable moments in life.
The situation is real, the consequences are real, something that’s not easily recreated. It could be a tranquil, peaceful experience which you simply will never forget. It could require motivation, hardship, elements of being uncomfortable which again you will simply never forget.
It’s all part of being in the moment, never underestimate the power of being in the moment.
Josh Williams is a Development Coach at Eclipse Performance. You can connect with him here.