Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gratitude

How do you think it feels to work all day in the heat, skip dinner and surf until it’s too dark to continue? Though you leave the water physically tired, you feel energized and above all grateful.

Picture this. You finish work and the plans you had for after work fall through. Oh well. That’s the way Hawaii is. Things change without warning. Best to be flexible. You make the short drive to check out the waves. It’s a bad time of year for surfing on your side of the island but an unseasonable swell has been forecast to arrive. There is some small surf but you don’t have your board anyway.

Back home. It’s time for dinner but seeing those waves has planted something in your gut that won’t go away. You can eat any time. There’s only a couple hours left of daylight to surf in. Dinner can wait. A fifteen minute drive down the highway and you turn off onto a side road. A quarter of a mile down that road and you turn onto a dirt road mostly blocked off with a “road closed” sign. Who knows why. The road descends steeply into a valley leading to the sea. There are three or four cars in a primitive dirt parking lot. Not a good sign. If the surf were good, the word would be out and the lot would be full, extra cars crammed onto the side of the narrow road leading uphill. You can hear the ocean and feel the breeze on your face.

You leave your board in the back of the truck and flip flop down to the beach to see if you just wasted a trip. You watch a single surfer bobbing up and down 100 yards out. “If he catches something while I’m standing here watching, I’ll paddle out.” Bingo there he goes. As you come back down to the beach the surfer is on his way out. “Am I wasting my time?” you ask. “No,” he answers, “it was fun. Occasional chest high sets.” That turns out to be an exaggeration.

It looks like you’ve got this spot all to yourself. It was a hot day and the water at the surface is remarkably warm. It’s an easy paddle out. The conditions aren’t great: small waves with relatively little power but they’re fun and easy to catch. The ocean is pitching you softballs today. Nice underhanded tosses like a game of catch in the backyard and you catch wave after wave. The sun is behind a hill leaving your spot in shadow. As you sit on your board your feet dangling below you, you can feel the cooler water just below the surface. The wind has gone quiet and you feel neither hot nor cold. A couple other surfers paddle out and join you, mellow, friendly guys.

Despite having worked a full day. You are neither hungry nor tired. Each wave you catch motivates you to paddle out again for another. The sky darkens and you see the moon. The sun shines on Hawaii long after it has set on the mainland and you are still out surfing in that last hour of light. And then there’s the moon. It’s almost full and as the sunlight fades its shine appears on the water. You wonder if it’s possible to surf by moonlight. Some perverse competitive part of you wants to be the last surfer out after everyone else has gone in, but those other two guys just keep surfing. You know you’re having a good time when you keep telling yourself that this one will be the last wave, but then you paddle out again anyway.

A star is visible in the evening sky and it’s getting hard to see even in the moonlight. Maybe you can let those other guys have satisfaction of being the last surfers out tonight. They’ll always be more waves for you tomorrow.

3 Comments:

At 6/12/2006, Blogger Summer Pierre said...

Is this really your life? Sounds pretty beautiful and wild and wonderful. Gratitude is the real gift.

 
At 6/13/2006, Anonymous Vitali said...

It all sounds like paradise, The Hague has a beach. Maybe you can surf to Holland?

 
At 6/19/2006, Blogger BOR-ee-us said...

How do you say "Dude, do you know where Vitali's house is?" in dutch?

 

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