A mantra to get you through the madness.
Ignore the crowd that greets you when you arrive; it may look packed, but there’s a wave out there for you. Concentrate instead on the slow, gentle circles your wax makes on the board, the smell of salt and sunscreen, the roar of the passing commodore filled with guys who’ve spent too much time at the gym. This is summer, drink it in. Pay no mind either to the carload of blow-ins who’ve just rocked up or the overweight gentleman strolling past in sluggos; think only of the wave that awaits you and the joy you’ll feel once you’ve had that ride.
Ignore also the fact that on the way to the shore you witness the cheeriest old local you know come in swearing and shaking his head. Ignore the stand-up paddleboarder who nearly falls on you as you paddle out. Try not to worry about the fact that every wave has three or four people stroking madly for it and another half-dozen or so getting in the way. Just let the warm, soothing water wash over you and know that a wave exists with your name emblazoned on it.
Out in the line-up, do not be deterred by the precocious thirteen-year-old who paddles up your inside after every wave. Do not be deterred by the loud-mouth father who encourages him. Maintain your composure even after you’ve been faded by a bodyboarder, snaked by a kneeboarder, and stung by the bluebottle you’re now trying desperately to unravel from your fucking wrist. Breathe deeply, calmly, and reassure yourself that when your wave arrives, the universe will know, and all of these obstacles will clear from your path.
Practice patience. Do not let it get to you that after forty-five minutes of surfing you’ve only had two waves to yourself and both of them were close-outs. Do not punch the kook who’s just floated up your inside in the head. Believe in the old saying good things come to those who wait. Wait. Believe. Look forth to the horizon as a set rolls in. Let the same kook who’s just floated up your inside take the first wave. Let the arrogant old longboarder who’s racing around your outside steal the next. Let all of these distractions fade from your mind because here it is, the wave you’ve been waiting for, and you’ve got it all to yourself.
Paddle hard, fast, yell out to the shoulder-hoppers and make your intentions clear—this is my wave, my moment, and nothing will get in the way of it! Drive hard around the pack flailing in the take-off zone, ride high above the kook who’s now entangled in his leash, set your eyes on the section lining up in front of you and … straighten out as a little kid floats up the face on a boogie board and becomes one with the lip.
Ah, fuck it, I’m going in!