(Written March 2020)
As the rest of the world, I’m social isolating at the moment to protect the lives of those around us and our NHS, which is so needed. However, I imagine many of you like me are imagining the day when you’ll be able to get back into the ocean. The day where you feel the first wave break over you, look across the water to the green cliffs and to the seemingly never ending horizon. This day will come. Yet for the moment, I am using this new found quiet time to remember the true reason I love surfing, as this is something I’ve forgotten in recent months.
Since Christmas, I have been experiencing occasional moments of pure panic when going surfing, something I’ve never experienced before. I’ve been scared of big waves before, but never had this indescribable urge to run out of the water and away from waves that are no more than two-three feet high. It just didn’t make sense. Yet looking back now, I can see that the reason behind these panic attacks was that I had forgotten why I love surfing. In a whirlwind of work, travelling, guilt for not being good enough and expectations, surfing had just become another thing on my to do list. I had put so much pressure on myself to get better, to not mess up in front of others and to push myself even when exhausted. The result being I had become terrified of one of the things in life I love the most.
These last few weeks of quarantine I have been spending more time with loved ones with no particular agenda, rediscovering the joy in digging the earth to grow food and walking in nature. These weeks have reminded me the true reason I love surfing, and that is to be connected to nature. When I’m sitting out in the ocean with the sun setting, or even heavy rain and wind, I feel part of the earth. This feeling is so different from that of sitting in the office, walking along a high street or even going to a bar with friends (which I am also missing!).
So, during these next few weeks or months of social isolation away from the waves, Seaweed Surf Shack be sharing stories of how we as surfers are all part of the natural world and how when we return to the waves, we remember the reason we came to surfing, whatever that may be. We’ll be sharing stories of surfers who have set up environmental projects, sharing foraging tips for seaweed, novel sustainable materials and ideas for surfing and the stories of seaweed farming communities across the globe.