Posted by: smithdavid | August 12, 2012

Thoughts of Leaving

The sun has brightened everything up. The car park at Finn McCool’s is not full, but it is busier than I’ve seen before. I turn left  and go past the Sandhouse. Bodies in cool summer clothes saunter along the road. Perhaps it’s just the sun that has brought all these people here. But I’m optimistic – Magic Seaweed gave a good swell forecast.

I’m paying more attention than usual. There have been discussions in the last few weeks – some of us where sent to London to check things out. The days of driving from Dublin to Rossnowlagh on a Saturday morning may be numbered. It will be hard to let go – the atmosphere of these Saturdays is similar to those I recall as a child – there is a strong sense of my Dad and a feeling of safety and infinite possibility.

Now I turn into the car park. It’s optimistic parking – if you drive right to the front something will open up. And it does – in the corner is a Focus-sized hole. I leave the radio on while I change – an interview with Tour de France winner Greg Lemond is playing. He talks of his splintered childhood. Tragedy does not discriminate it seems.

As I wade in I see my faith was justified – there are several line-ups out back – Rossnowlagh is at her long, plentiful best. I pick one off straight away just to remind myself – I’m up quickly, my body is becoming accustomed.

my faith was justified…

I paddle out back to the closest line-up. When I’m sitting on my board I see that despite plenty of effort, no-one is making waves. I try a few myself and they leave me behind. I paddle a little closer to shore so that I’m sitting in a place that feels right. The next wave comes and I make it.

Once I’m done I go out to the same place, ignoring the wisdom of the crowd, trusting my instinct. Again I’m up on the first one that comes. I feel I’ve got her clean – if I lean this way a little the board follows; if I shift that way, it’s the same. The water is clear around me and I feel as light as I can ever recall feeling. Whether this is my last trip to Rossnowlagh or not doesn’t matter right now.

It’s a long session. I see a few delicate, feminine faces – there is a sense of yearning. At many levels I know I’m looking for someone to replace her. But when I’m in the ocean with this board these thoughts are fleeting and contain little of the emotional mass that they have at other times.

the view from Smuggler’s…

Later I set the camera up at the Smuggler’s beer garden. Down below the waves tumble inevitably to the shore and then return to the ocean, tumble and return. I set a long exposure to capture the setting sun and the movement of the waves. At another time the thoughts of leaving Ireland would leave me restless. But since I’ve started surfing I find that the waves soothe me. Something will well up, something will explode, something will reach where it’s going and then return. It never changes. It’s just where you are in that cycle that varies.



  1. David,

    First, this is a great post- again.

    I was thinking of you when I wrote today’s post, “Be There.” I’m happy to read that you too can find some peace on the board.


    • thanks tom. the focus of an elemental sport certainly does make being present easier. the trick is to bring that focus into every activity, every moment.

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