5 Lessons I Learned from Surfers

Surfers are quintessentially cool. They purposely submerge themselves into cold dark water, with unseen creatures of the deep, just to ride in on a thunderous wave.

A wave that is all at once, a crested murderous force of nature and a veiled vessel transporting them to another realm of consciousness.

And yet, even with all the potential risks, surfing is still on my bucket list. It sits proudly as number one, because surfers, are living examples of life lessons, we all need to learn.

Lesson # 1 – Discipline – Do It Again, And Again

When I was young, my dad and I used to swim first thing in the morning. Although I enjoyed spending time with my dad, the one memory that jumps out, is the coldness of the water.

No matter how many mornings I braved the sting of the cold, it never got better.

Even now. When I paddle in the chilly Pacific, and shudder even in the summer, I look on in amazement at surfers.

Surfers who have the discipline to get into cold water daily. All year round, and not just for a few minutes, but for an hour or more.

That takes some serious discipline.

Surfer in snow. Shows all year round discipline.

Lesson # 2 – It’s Dangerous, But Worth It

OK full disclosure. I grew up in South Africa where the beaches had shark nets.

I witnessed a surfer carrying in the carcass of a juvenile shark on Durban beach.

On a school field trip to a shark factory, I ran my fingers across sand papery shark skin.

You know where this is going, right?

At Durban Aquarium I saw a specimen of an 8-foot shark that had been attacked by another predator.

And at the impressionable age of nine, I read a graphic book on shark attacks.

So, to say I have an extremely healthy fear of sharks is an understatement.

Yet, despite the dangers of unseen predators , I still look on at surfers in awe.

They are not crazy people with a death wish, but warriors of the waves. Braving the elements and other dangers for the opportunity to ride a wave.

And it’s not just the ride, but the chance to become one with the power and force of the ocean.

Great white shark swimming the ocean.

Lesson # 3 – Patience Grasshopper

Often I watch surfers sitting on their boards bobbing up and down.

Waiting patiently for the right wave.

It doesn’t appear to be hard to just float out there. But on the few occasions I have boogie boarded off the coast here in Encinitas, just getting out past the breaking waves, is a real chore.

Then there’s the added fight of making sure the rip currents don’t pull you out to sea.

So yeah, surfing is the art and science of learning how to ride perfect waves, but mostly it’s about honing patience.

Waiting for that one right wave and knowing when it’s the one.

Surfer sitting on a surfboard waiting for a wave.

Lesson # 4 – It Pays to Be Present

The very nature of surfing demands focus. It demands surfers be present, as it is like walking on a tightrope of sorts.

There is always the danger of drowning or severe injury, no matter how experienced a surfer. Many big wave surfers have risked it all for the thrill of riding 20 foot plus waves.

But, smaller waves can still be dangerous.

So, being present is really life or death for surfers, but it is a key lesson we all can learn to instill in our lives.

Even if death isn’t staring us in the face.

Surfer riding a 20 foot plus wave.

Lesson # 5 – Fit for Life

It goes without saying that most surfers are fit.

Fighting to get past the breaking waves alone burns a fair amount of calories. Then there’s paddling, positioning, standing up on the board and balancing.  All take a lot of energy.

In fact, according to Shape magazine.

“Newbies can count on shredding around 208 calories an hour catching waves.”

And this increases the better you become.

So, what more can you want? Get fit and enjoy it at the same time, and if you’re lucky you’ll catch a tan too? It’s a win-win.

Fit surfer at dusk.

Wave Warrior Lessons

Much like warriors of the past and of course today, being fit is a core component.

But surfers have taught me four more life lessons that I can apply to my life, and so can you.

Stay focused, be present. It could save my life.

Have patience. Wait and work for the important things in life.

Have a sense of adventure. A little bit of danger will make me feel alive.

Have discipline. The benefits will outweigh the drudgery.

Even if you don’t surf, or just like to watch from the beach, visiting the coast still has many benefits.

Read 5 reasons why the coast is a health and happiness generator.

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