Surfing Isn't Productive
Surfing is not productive, in that there is no tangible output of the time and effort spent surfing ocean waves.
Other hobbies yield beautiful, if not clumsy and messy results. A potter makes a clay pot, a painter paints a canvas, a musician writes a song, a fisherman catches fish (either to be released or for the frying pan), but surfing's fruit is purely internal.
All the years spent in the water, checking weather reports, loading gear, getting to the beach, paddling for waves, missing waves, making sections, kicking out at the end of an unexpectedly long one... they're just moments.
And hopefully the sum result of all those moments is a happier, healthier, more patient version of each of us.
The ice cream headaches, humbling moments, and rare moments of triumph over something far more powerful than ourselves has to equate to something of significance.
I was talking to an acquaintance recently—I wish I could say friend because he's someone who I admire greatly—and he was talking about how healing surfing has been recently, a way to connect with his sons after a long, hard season.
As he was talking, it occurred to me that his experience with surfing, and the value he is getting from it is vastly different than my own. Which is really what got me thinking "what do I get from surfing these days?" I have two very young kids at home, so surfing requires me to step away from my role as a Dad and a small surfboard business owner.
Surfing isn't productive the way that cooking breakfast for the family or working on the business is. It's entirely unproductive when viewed through the lens of productivity and a busy life. And I think that's exactly the value that it brings. A chance to take a pause, wash the day away, and enjoy not being productive for a short while.
Undoubtedly the version of me that my family and staff get is a better one when I return. On land, we keep an unnatural pace. In the lineup, the ocean sets the tempo. Those long lulls between sets are the reminder of the patient speed at which the natural world operates.
I'm reading Michael Easters The Comfort Crisis right now, and according to scientific research by smart folks, 20 minutes of immersing yourself in nature, without the presence of your smartphone, 3 times per week, has a profound impact on your brain's physical makeup.
I 10/10 recommend that book, by the way.
With all the digital distractions imaginable available at our fingertips at all times, we are better than ever at wasting time. I'm not advocating for more wasted time. I'm giving you a little nudge toward unproductive time. Time spent where outwardly it may seem like nothing of substance is being accomplished, but inwardly its time well very spent.
You need that time, just as I need that time. And what better place to get it than in the water, immersed in a world that is beyond our control—with the hopes of harnessing a little bit of the oceans energy for a free ride down the beach.