I was obsessed with surfing for a time.
I think that when I was a little younger and a little more flexible, I entertained the thought that maybe I could stand up on a wave and feel the freedom that I imagined that would bring.
I don’t think I could even really stand up on a skateboard very well, but I thought that waves might be different.
Delusions of grandeur or something like it, I guess.
Anyway….I don’t think of surfing in the same way, even though it’s still a beautiful sport to me.
There still is something in me that pulls me towards the ocean.
Not the “Myrtle Beach ocean”…crowded with board walks and sunburned tourists , overbuilt and trashed out. Not that kind of ocean.
The ocean I see in my head is the one where a family could hike down a trail cut into the side of a mountain to a beach that’s more private…”harder to get to” equals privacy, somehow…and spend the day surf fishing and playing in the Pacific Ocean…eating…together. Together.
The idealized Western with a capital “w” ocean.
I don’t think that anything is the way it was. It would be kind of freaky if it was….kind of disconcerting if we had a bunch of pockets of “nothing’s really changed” in a world where everything around them was so different.
Time is changing things all the…time. Change is growth. If you aren’t changing, you’re probably dying…and that’s a change, too, I suppose.
But the memories can always be the same. They are what we make them…rough edges sanded down and everything burnished to a high sheen.
Our memories are the gift we can give to ourselves…the spin we put on them makes it easier to live sometimes, holding on to the good and happy, shaping the sad to make it more palatable.
Now some folks take exception to the idea that our choices in how we remember things are liquid…fluid and malleable.
They don’t like thinking that a slight spin on our histories is allowable.
“That’s not how that happened…chronologically speaking it makes no sense…you don’t have your story right…”
They live by a sad set of very literal standards…and do what they can to hold everyone around them to the same standards.
They can’t allow that each of us owns our personal histories.
They don’t believe that it’s our myth to shape as we’re living it.
What they forget is that in the very darkest moments…in the saddest of times…there are usually bits of light and kindness that shine through.
It’s that frequent occasion for something good to happen that could be the focus of a lifetime of memories.
Maybe that’s what pulls me towards an appreciation of surfing.
There are random and varied experiences in this life… there’s nothing too profound in understanding that…and they just keep coming.
Like the waves, they just keep coming.
No matter how much we try to live each day the same way, never “upsetting the apple cart”, never doing anything very radical that might make us remember how much opportunity for a big life we might have, never trying to understand how much opportunity there is in this life…no matter how static we think we’ve orchestrated things to be…there are always going to be changes going on.
This is what carries us.
Our ability to shape our memories is what lets us stand up on our boards and “make the drop”.
Wave after beautiful wave.