Posted by: smithdavid | August 26, 2012

The Rigid and the Proud

There is a problem with the way things are. The waves have no power. If they were just small, that in itself could be overcome. But they are gutless too. I paddle around out back, hoping that maybe somewhere along the long, Rossnowlagh shore the ocean floor or the swell or the wind will be just a little different and there will be enough kick.

I see one forming and I turn and paddle hard. These are different to the long, lazy stokes of positioning. These are furious and desperate. I feel a week pull and I want to stand. But my body is disobedient and defaults to kneeling. Eventually I’m up but the wave is gone and I stall and begin sinking. Just like with other things right now.

There’s something wrong with the way things are.

It’s easy to get beyond the breakers again. There are long gaps between sets and a few strokes get you there. It’s like being on a lake. But I know I’ll experience the yang of this ease next time I try and make a wave.

I prowl the gentle rise and fall of this outland area until at last another one comes that could take me. It’s all frantic again and this time the stalling occurs while I’ve one leg up and one knee still on the board. Emmet’s words resonate with something instinctual and come to the front of my mind – ‘you have to get up quickly, if you’re slow getting up you’ll always struggle…’

I paddle closer to shore to see if there is any more power in the shallower water. But the results are much the same.

I resign myself to the fact that the most I will get out of this session is practice popping up. I remember Andre (my Gonubie instructor) telling me how he gets his kids to practice pop-ups at home. ‘You have to get it so that’s second nature – there’re so many other things going on when you catch a wave, the pop-up has to be automatic.’

I did pop-ups at home a few times when I started surfing but nothing since. I catch a few mini-waves now and get up quickly on some and am stranded on my knees on others. I know what needs to be done.

I also know that I’m being stubborn about the mini-mal. ‘Get the longest board you can,’ Andre told me. But seeing I’ve got this far on a 7’4”, I can’t bring myself to regress to a nine-footer. Earlier I nearly relented – I asked at Finn McCool’s about longboards. But when I found out they only had foamies, pride kicked in and I turned away.

i can’t bring myself to regress to a nine footer…

I half catch another wave and wonder why I’m making things so difficult for myself, why I have to have them this one particular way. I wonder if it’s not the same with all those things I’ve thought about having someone.

A wave comes that is just big enough to catch and I get on it. I’m standing for a second and I’m weightless. Then I fall off. Perhaps I’d be weightless more often if I weren’t so rigid.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll take the foamie.



  1. David,

    Here’s what I think. With both the surfing and the rest, good waves, bad ones, feeling stalled or not, you’re out there. That’s the thing.

    Still out there paddling for the wave.


    • you’re right tom. the trick is never to lose sight of the fact that it’s a privilege to be out there. in all things.

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