Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Light in the Darkness

So, on Sunday morning we were laying around in bed, just woken up and not really fully awake yet. Then the phone goes, waking us up properly with concerned thoughts about who might be calling us this early on a Sunday morning. It turns out to not be quite as early as we thought and it's my surf buddy 'Big E' giving me the heads up that there might be a fun little wave, in his own inimitable way. He's what you might call a proper character. Covered in Tattoos and with a "biker goatee" beard, he looks like he could do some damage, until he breaks out his trademark smile, which he does very often. 'Big E' isn't his real name, but he prefers to keep a low profile. From a sketchy past as a member of a certain biker gang, and an avid consumer of illicit substances, he has turned his life around......from the brink of destruction......and now teaches Tai Chi, Chi Gong, mindfulness meditation, and counsels those who are struggling with issues around addiction. These days he's still addicted....but only to surfing now (a much healthier addiction). Not too shabby considering he's pushing sixty. I've learnt a lot from him these past few years, and hopefully given him a few tips to improve his surfing in return.

The surf has been poor for most of the month, so this chance to go for a wave is very welcome. By the time I have had a cup of tea and slice of toast, he's giving me a live run down of the conditions from the top of the dunes. Ten minutes later, and we are both fully covered in neoprene (first time into winter suits, gloves and hoods this season) and heading out to the waves. The conditions weren't epic by any standards, but for most of the session it was just three of us out there picking off the choice waves in the weak winter sunshine. The waves were small, around waist to chest high, but perfect for longboarding on this unusually calm day. I ended up getting out after three hours, when the chill had penetrated to the core.

Later in the day the sea was again calling, and I went surfing once more in the last hour before sunset. The waves were even smaller, but peeling well along a good sandbank. Just being out in the sea as the light changed from full sun, to golden light shimmering on the glassy surface of the sea, to dull oranges and pinks in the sky as the sun dipped, was a magical experience. Insulated from the cold by my wetsuit, between waves I relaxed and took it all in until the only light left was from the few houses and the pub that overlook the southern end of the beach. Catching one final wave in, more by feel than by sight, I remembered how fortunate I am to be able to experience this way of life, and the fleeting rewards that it brings.

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