What is it about gliding that changes everything? The simple act of sliding across the water’s surface with the aid of gravity has a way of changing everyone it comes in contact with. At the very least it puts a smile on your face and gives you a feeling of exhilaration. But at the extreme people dedicate their entire life to the pursuit of gliding, regular surfing included. In those extreme cases it can even cost some people their wives and kids, because they are unwilling to compromise gliding time, and that’s speaking from experience. Fortunately for me I have a great second wife that understands the allure and supports my addiction to glide, with the understanding that I keep it balanced with family time and a few chores.
Now when I say gliding I’m not referring to only doing stand up downwinders, but rather, regular surfing, all sorts of canoeing, body surfing, kayaking, prone paddle boarding, windsurfing, etc. The one common thread being sliding down a wave or wind swell. There is something so liberating and invigorating about that moment of gliding on the water. Perhaps very similar to flying for the first time where you are generating your own propulsion by using the forces of nature and intellect to orchestrate a compiled symphony of movements that culminates in a simple glide. A lofty description perhaps of a simple action but you have to admit there really must be more going on there than meets the eye. Why else would it make you feel so good on such a fundamental level. Why else would it be so addictive and cause that euphoric feeling every time you get a good glide.
I’ve got a few theories as to why but in the end they really are only theories. Judging by the number of people that are sharing this feeling though, I know I’m right about one thing. It’s fun.
In fact it’s so fun that people will spend thousands of dollars to get it, plane tickets to any where in the world at the drop of a hat . Sometimes millions if you consider buying a house in Maui to be closer to your glide. The equipment certainly isn’t free so it must be worth quite a lot to get that feeling. On my Hawaiian side of the family that glide has been handed down for generations. My Natural father was the 1962 U.S. amateur surfing champ, obviously addicted, his father started the first outrigger canoe club in California and was one of the best body surfers in Hawaii, obviously addicted, and I’m sure it doesn’t stop there. Most of my closest friends all model their lives so that when it’s good they can go. Laird and I have been getting paid to glide in one form or another for the last twenty five years, thereby far exceeding our predetermined shelf life, and very honestly I think the day I stop will be the day I go to that endless glide in the sky.
So what is it? Is the water shooting out from under your board. Is it the unseen force that accelerates for no apparent reason, is it the feeling of weightlessness that you feel for that split second. Waves are by definition energy, so is it the act of immersing yourself in that energy for a moment. Because of all the little factors you must coordinate, is it that it completely draws you to a single point of focus just for a few moments where you are totally in the moment( maybe). Is it that feeling of getting free space or distance, while your gliding. Maybe it’s the feeling of those subtle vibrations of skimming across the surface coming up through the board and into your feet that generate the sensation of speed. As mentioned earlier, maybe it’s that feeling of soaring free like a bird through the boundless waters. Or maybe it’s all of those things with a few reasons that will never be explained, but we sure sense that they exist.
Whatever that attraction is to glide, I know it’s real, and I know it makes me feel good. I know that without it I would be half the person I am today. I know that I love it and that it’s fun to share.
As I say, I’ve got my theories, I’d like to hear yours. I wonder if people have thought this through, and if there are answers–spiritual, physical, philosophical, or just gut.