Forces of Nature: How Surfing Rescued Me

Steven J. WardContributor IMarch 17, 2009

There are very few feelings in one's lifetime that actually inebriate the senses to such a degree that a separation of spirit from flesh occurs in a mere instant of time. It is not necessarily induced by speed, nor as a result of gravitational thrust, but more so as a result of a transition from one state of consciousness to another by unregulated energy while suspended amid a quasi-natural stance or standing.

Case in point: I have skimmed a rather challenging mountain face or two while bound to a pair of narrow skis reaching extremely satisfying not to mention overwhelming speeds. Indeed exhilarating and a bit more breathtaking, as well as purely spectacular to the eyes while inhaling the freshest air, most probably the healthiest of all oxygen, to sate within. Yet something was amiss, most definitely amiss.

Windsurfing, although quite reckless and quick-paced, under the proper circumstances, I had share in dips and dives while accessing abnormal speed, which once again allowed me the second glance into the parallel that beckons speed as a quantification of satisfaction upon the senses in pursuit of logic. Without, alas, fulfillment.

We are certainly within the mysterious grasp of a metaphysical universe, mere light casting shadows in the space vacated moment by fleeting moment while the sparks created differ indeed individually from one to the next depending on its ignitor. Mine, upon a final glance back, suffers from no identity crisis and reigns without question atop the summit of extentualism non-parallel.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, hour after hour upon a 10 ft. Gordon & Smith surfboard, I became acquainted with the sport that would ultimately provide not simply a way to cope when the act therein was more closely regarded as survival than sport, but also the very IGNITOR to my soul.

East Coast waves, comparably small, are capable, especially when the offshore waters entertained passing hurricanes, of delivering powerful swells toward the shores while the riders waited patiently their deliverance. As hurricane season proceeded, we would maintain a wary eye, watching, waiting, even praying the Outer Banks would summon and we'd be off in search of our own "Perfect Wave."

Well, before Nags Head opened its greedy arms to hyper-development, we rode her wonderful swells, cementing those images upon the intrinsic marrow of consciousness and indelible walls of memories.

Cape Hatteras, N.C. allotted me the largest, most furious wave I ever attempted to conquer. This took place while a hurricane danced offshore, feeding this beautiful beach a constant, ever increasing supply of huge, hungry swells.

Speculated by the locals at near 20 ft. faces, these monsters rushed in and closed out much too quick to handle, but we had travelled several hundred miles, and it would not be in vain!

Once reconciled, a friend and myself somehow found ourselves straddling our now five-and-a-half foot boards. Mine was a G & S Egg design, deep maroon white pinstripe, and I knew right away that I might find liftoff at mid-way down the face of these waves, but we were here, and it was now the only way in to the shore.

I remember paddling, the wave up under me, and suddenly a drop that seemed an eternity. I tried to hold on, but I doubt if I made it halfway down the wave when I lost it. The speed was incredible, but the force of the swell was what I really recall. A wipeout at such heights is never a good thing, but here amid a hurricane swell—well, thank God we survived. It took a great deal of battling the laws of nature, but we finally found solid ground.

It wasn't that wave that filled me with an unsurpassed awe, but waves in general; a collective gathering of large and small, each one in possession of its own identity. The sport of Surfing rescued me when I was a fledging teen and allowed me to claim something very special, very personal, and a link to nature at its various and tedious strength. Indeed a Force of Nature!