Time on the water. A pretty simple concept with such a profound effect. Why does everything change when you get in the water? I’m not sure of the scientific effects but I sure know the emotional ones along with the physical benefits. That’s why some of us just feel that need to jump in sometimes. Obviously my mental picture while writing this, is of stand up paddle surfing, but it certainly isn’t restricted to stand up. Anything that literally gets you in the water is good. Even sailors, who don’t even need to get in, they just need to be on the water, breathing the salty air getting into their lungs to get the calming, invigorating response we all get.
It may be cliche to talk of the healing effects of water, but it became a cliche because its true and any one with a cold or injury knows exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve had countless minor cuts or bruises that upon the first rush of water touching me, reduce in severity by sometimes more than 50%. The amount of effect, for me, seems to be directly connected to the quality of waves that day. For some it’s the strength of the wind, others the intensity of the rapids and for others the clarity of the water. Whatever your catalyst for the healing, it’s undeniable that it is true. For CF (cystic fibrosis) patients it is one of their most effective treatments. A few years ago a group of doctors discovered that CF patients in Australia were doing much better than other CF patients around the world. What they discovered was that the Australian patients were surfing and through more testing realized that the salty air was aiding in the main problem CF patients struggle with–getting rid of mucus build up in their lungs. That confirmed it for me. I wasn’t just wishing that the effect was real. It is real and whether I can prove it scientifically or not, for my smaller ailments, it doesn’t matter anymore. The results are what matter.
When I get in the water I’m a nicer person, I’m more patient , I have a much greater appreciation for the world at large as well as my own little universe, I am fulfilled, and I stay healthier more of the time. I’m more inclined to share information and technique tips with people and some of my best ideas have come while I was on the water. Some of my experiences have taken me to the very brink of my existence and brought me back with a tempered will that seems to make life’s potholes slightly less significant. I’ve had “training sessions” that have been so frustrating that I felt like driving over my board instead of being on it, yet some how it has always brought me back to the path of patience with a lighter load.
Just today I met a man that told me he hadn’t ridden his first wave until he was 59. Now he’s been surfing a few years, but the glow he had just getting out of the water was inspiring, especially since the waves were only about calf high. I’ve been on surf trips to to Indo with the likes of Kelly Slater and Tom Carroll and not seen that kind of stoke. Not the flavor of stoke that motivates you to talk about your best waves but rather the kind that allows you to just stand there and smile. The smile that writes an inner stoke all over your face.
Time on the water has brought me life long friends, and the best of new friends that all share that same passion and stoke. It has taught me that there is always another wave coming soon and that if you take too many, the ocean has a way of balancing the scales. It has taught me that sometimes to get the best wave of the day, you have to give it away. My longer paddles have taught me that once your will has decided to do something, your body will follow. And without that will, that the ocean somehow gives, your body at best is a beefed up race car with no steering wheel. You just can’t get far without mental strength.
My time on the water has taught me much more than that, but the real question is what is your time on the water going to teach you. Don’t ever let the haters deter you from getting on the water. Sure you may need to move right when they are left, but sometimes that small change of course can be what starts a chain reaction of experience, that ends with a big smile and a satisfied thirst for fun. Keep that open mind that you undoubtedly have if you do stand up, and stay open to experiences because there is one thing I’ve learned from my time on the water: You’ve got to make the most of your time on the water.