– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form

Play is Life

noseFor a long time I’ve wondered what it is about surfing that captivates me. I’ve wondered how over the years there are few things as deeply meaningful to me as paddling out and riding waves. And like most who have wondered the same I cannot put it into words or make any sense of it.

In recent months I’ve taken up running. Unsure as to why exactly I feel the motivation to go out and run I decided to read about running, to see why others run. Perusing the shelves at my local library in Halifax I came upon a title by a Dr. George Sheehan called Running and Being. I will not go deeply into what is inside the book but I will point out two passages.

On analyzing the reasons for play (surfing, running, skateboarding, or whatever activity one chooses) Sheehan says:

“they [the intellectuals] see its useful functions for fitness and compensation for other deficiencies. What they don’t see is a primary category of life that resists all analysis. Play, then, is a nonrational activity. A superlogical nonrational activity in which the beauty of the human body in motion can reach its zenith.”

On the need for movement:

“Physiologists have suggested that only those who can pass the most rigorous physical examination can safely follow the sedentary life. Man was not made to remain at rest. Inactivity is completely unnatural to the body. What follows is a breakdown of the equilibrium. When the measurable beneficial effects of activity on the heart and circulation and indeed on the body’s systems are absent, everything measurable begins to go awry. And if the body goes, can the mind be far behind?”

There is no need to define the essence of surfing or why we surf. It is a nonrational activity.  We surf because we must, because it allows us to live our lives to their fullest potential and not for gain or notoriety, but because without it we are not achieving our own individual perfection.

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6 Responses »

  1. ‘A nonrational activity’. Love it. Thanks for this post.

  2. Great post chaps. I’m being coerced back to rrnning by my son…I wonder if the knees will hold out?

  3. Chaps.. make that “running”.. ;-)

  4. Reading that text also helps a lot in achieving our own individual perfection.
    Thank you for bringing it up.

  5. Good post. I think it might be even more than that when it comes to surfing though. There’s not really another activity like it where you’re at one moment immersed in nature and another harnessing its power. In addition to that there’s a definite meditative quality the entire time you’re out, whether you’re just sitting in between sets or riding a wave.

  6. Another important byproduct of such “nonrational activity” is adrenaline.
    Post run/surf/ride, I often feel I could move a mountain and those “good vibes” can carry me through an entire mundane day of commuting and slave wages.