Finding your way back to surfing, yet again.
This time I really did a number on myself, and I can lay the blame on several things. My sister died very suddenly, after a short illness, and I was still in shock and only in the first week of mourning with my mom when it was time to move, to get back home to my family to beat the lockdown.
Then the lockdown took me by surprise. Well, it took us all by surprise. I was in such a weird place of disconnected grieving that it never really sunk in, what was going on, until we were deep in lockdown.
In South Africa, the lockdown was hard, and it was brutal. There was a big stash of booze at my house though, and there were dealers everywhere, and alcohol is pretty freely available if you're prepared to pay for it.
It took a week or two for the full understanding of just how much work had been lost, and how many jobs on the calendar no longer existed. It was going to be a struggle to be able to look after the family, money-wise.
Poor me, everyone is broken with this virus, cry me a river, what makes me so special etc. The couch and whisky was the solution, as well as a few self-help books, although they actually did fuck-all.
When we were finally allowed out, the beach and surfing seemed like a distant memory, and there wasn't much excitement for it. Officially the beaches were still closed, and are still closed today, so there was always that negative vibe that the police could come down and arrest you, and maybe your kids. They have been making some pretty wild arrests in South Africa.
Then one day, while watching the surfing, I felt it was time to go catch a few. Yet, on standing up from the bench, this negative feeling pervaded. It was as if my body wasn't up for it. My back felt stiff and creaky. I felt lazy and soft, but my mind wanted to get out there and to ride some zingers at the beach break (can you call waves zingers?).
While driving to get my equipment, I let the awareness of my body persuade my mind that I would kook out and not be able to get to my feet. So I went back to the couch for a while, to ponder, along with three fingers of whisky.
It was there that, after researching my weird vibe, I came across the term 'mind-body dualism philosophy.'
It is just as it sounds, a belief that a person's body is merely a shell, disconnected to the mind, and therefore it is often neglected. That rang true.
While dualism is a philosophical and spiritual concept at heart, it spills into the world of physical activity. In one study, it showed that people who were primed with dualism in their psyche showed less engagement with healthy physical behaviour. These people had less favourable attitudes toward healthy physical activities. In other words, they often couldn’t give a fuck to go for a surf, a run etc.
This mind-body dualism problem, because it most definitely is a problem, has been around for many thousands of years. It was around in the times of Plato, Aristotle and those hard-thinking cats, yet there is no solution. Some people might call it laziness, some might call it the blues, some might call it less pleasant terms for when the body tricks the mind to say, 'listen, we're out of the game.'
I had never been here before.
Despite the malaise, I went for a surf one day on a split-second decision. I went out on a mid-length (don't judge me), I went over the falls on 7 waves and made 1.
Then I went for another quick surf and rode about three waves.
I followed this up with another quick session and rode three more waves.
Then the surf got massive, and my knee got sore for the entire swell.
When it had dropped, it was time for another surf, of about 5 waves.
I decided to hit the power gym: no weights, just fitness training and explosive muscle work.
My wife bought me a new wetsuit for my birthday.
I went for another surf, and it was so bad, onshore and crowded. It was cold and slamming onto this bank. It was horrible, but I paddled into a few. I had a new suit. I had a real huff and puff in the car park afterwards, moaning about how shit it was, when I realised that I had stopped being aware of this mind-body dualism thing. Surfing, and a subtle level of fitness had taken it away.
Sometimes we have to not over-think things, and just go surfing.