Drop-ins and dickheads are a part of surfing. You accept this truth or you suffer. Surfing is not always fair. Etiquette doesn’t always exist and age, gender and localism can weigh heavy in certain line-ups.
I’ve always had a hard time reconciling with people who drop in. The injustice. The outrage: I would never do that!
I’m not inherently mellow, despite people often saying I seem so calm. If a CCTV were installed in our house those people would definitely NOT think that. There are times when I can’t bear the assault of nagging, screaming and fighting from my kids and my temper ruptures. This happens more than I’d like to admit.
Surfing and motherhood have been a journey. And a hard fought one at times. I need to work at getting my Buddha on and if I don’t- my frustration festers. In the surf. And in life. It’s a continual practice.
Being present. Letting go. Accepting what is, and all that. Cultivating these mindsets has allowed me to grow and mature. Thank God!
Yet, in my continual pursuit of mindfulness and Zen I think I’ve lost sight of one thing…I’m human. I’m not Thich Nhat Hanh. And I can’t and don’t always want to let things go.
Not long ago I had an experience, which made me question:
Is there a time to let things go, and a time to stand up for yourself and draw a line in the sand? Is there a difference between acceptance and apathy?
I had paddled out in what resembled a bay and sat biding time with two old salts and two young ones. Small, clean sets interrupted long lulls. I watched from the outside as the old salty dogs claimed a wave each, as was fair- they’d been waiting the longest. I paddled to the inside and when the next set filtered in I took off, only to be dropped in on by one of the old blokes. I called him off, but he kept riding and I straightened out, bailing off my board.
Unfazed I resumed my position in the line up when my old friend paddled back out, sat on his board and after a minute or two said “I didn’t know if you were on that wave” with a grin.
“Yep. I was. That’s why I called you off”. Another thirty seconds passed.
“I pulled off it you know” he said nodding his speckled mop and raising his eyebrows, failing to mention he rode the wave for 30 metres before pulling off, and inferring that he could have ridden the whole wave had I not called him off.
Wait…What?…he dropped in on me…and now he was trying to make me feel bad for calling him off?
“Well I straightened out because you were right in front of me,” I countered.
A few waves and about fifteen minutes later, my old mate turned to me during another lull and smirked “Did you even stand up on that wave?”
Completely dumbstruck by the way this guy was patronizing me, I told him I did indeed stand up on that wave. He then proceeded to drop in on me a second time and then snaked one of the younger blokes- riding the whole wave just ahead of him.
I’ve come to accept drop-ins as par for the course. And yet- it felt like he’d crossed a line. I didn’t want to be an uptight and irate crank and start raging at this guy, but at the same time it didn’t feel right to just cop this level of disrespect and attitude.
The next wave he caught I dropped in on him. With full awareness of what I was doing. It was the first time in ten years of surfing that I’d intentionally snaked someone.
Perhaps it was good for old mate in the surf to see there was a limit to how much muck I, and everyone else would take from him.
Perhaps it’s good at times for my kids to see me angry. To see that I’m human and I have my limits too.
There should be consequences for behaving a certain way, right?
Or did I play a game of tit for tat- simply vindicating my ego by thinking I was teaching this guy a lesson? Am I essentially the same as him? Am I as immature as my children when I throw a wobbly at them?
Perhaps as much as life is about accepting what we can’t control, it’s about accepting the parts of ourselves we don’t like.
There’s a part of me exactly like that old man- a greedy part of me that wants a slice of peeling green face, just like every other punter in the ocean. And there’s a childish part of me that throws a hissy fit when my kids aren’t listening to a word I say.
I didn’t accept this bloke’s behaviour and I drew a line in the sand. Having done that- I also need to welcome the fact there’s a bit of him in me. And I’m ok with that.