I woke to a crisp, clear morning in Newport, Oregon before devouring four scrambled eggs and three cups of deliciously weak drip coffee. The turquoise steel frames of the Newport bridge gleamed brightly in the morning light as I navigated the narrow sidewalk with my bike and surfboard, forcing myself to muster up more concentration than I really wanted to. I wasn't complaining though — at least there was a sidewalk, this wasn't going to be a repeat of the scary four miles of riding across the notorious Astoria bridge (notorious for bikers, at least).
After a mile and a half I leaned into a swift right turn to enter South Beach State Park. Home to huge sand dune systems, South Beach belies it's size until you see the tiny humans walking the seashore which give it some sense of scale.
The chilly breeze blew lightly offshore, and I dabbled with the prospect of adding yet more weight to my bike by buying a hood for my wetsuit — a fairly small addition, but I'm already way overloaded.
After a good few hours in the ocean, the numbness of my hands gauging the culmination of the morning's surf, I decided to head in. While wrestling with my 4mm neoprene straitjacket, a man walked past with his two dogs. The smaller of the two began to sniff my leg, before giving me a thorough once over.
"Good day to be a surfer today?" the man asked jovially and probably rhetorically
"Yeah. It's not too bad. A few out there if you're in the right place at the right time. And it's such a beautiful morning"
The man smiled before continuing on his morning walk.
"Wait. Can I change my answer?"
"Any day's a good day to be a surfer. That's my answer."
The man simply smiled, turned on his heels and walked off. I stood there like I'd just had some kind of epiphany.For me it articulates in the simplest terms how surfing has changed my life.
A surfer once said something that has never left me. He said that he surfed because he was always a better person when he came in.
Those words were actually spoken in a Billabong marketing video, but I don't think it lessens their importance. And the man who spoke those words was the great Andy Irons — a man who many know had his fair share of demons
The fact is, I just feel incredibly lucky to have found an activity that allows me to meditate, that rejuvenates and invigorates me, and just makes me really bloody happy. To froth out, essentially.
I don't really know how my surfing looks — as photos and videos are few and far between — but at this point I don't really care. But I am slowly becoming more aware of how it has become an expression of me, of how I'm feeling, and (maybe) of my soul. I can tell I'm in the right place because even though the waves aren't as good as home, my surfing feels better than it ever has. It feels freer, less self conscious, and more open to whatever feels good — because that's how my life feels at the moment.
A lot of people have asked me why I chose to do this trip and I think I just found the answer: to try and understand the wonder and ecstasy of what it is to ride a wave, and how we humans can harness that profound power to make the world just a little bit sweeter.