With the Summer of 2108 nearing a close, we return to our love for the ocean. It’s our favorite place in the world. As soon as we have the time we go there. We feel a mysterious longing for the sea as some kind of secret to our own identity, as if our blood had salt water in it. Symbolically, I, the surfer, am—myself. The body with which I surf in the sea symbolizes the soul, with which I “surf” in God. The sea is God. The beach is the approach to God. Surfing is the experience of God, or the spiritual life.
“It’s perfectly logical to me that surfing is the spiritual aesthetic style of the liberated self.” — Dr. Timothy Leary
It has been that way.
Beginning when I was kid of six or so, my family would take us to the beach, whether Kill Devil Hills or Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, usually in mid to late August to, as my dad would say, recharge. Growing up in Great Bridge, back in the day, we were always only an hour and a half or so away from the Outer Banks. In High School, Friday evenings we would strap the boards to the roof and drive 168 south with a few bucks and maybe a blanket to sleep on…not that we slept much. It was a monastic journey, aided by illegal plants from the good, green earth. It was a work, to work towards our desire for the sea, and that desire had to be deep…a sensual practice, it constitutes its sacred center, and the corresponding experiences are constructed in a way that leads to a belief in nature as powerful, transformative, healing, and sacred. In a deeper sense, it is an understanding that everything is part of God even though God is more than everything added together.
The key was to live well below our means, stripped down, just the essentials. Over the years, we put together a loose list of things we jokingly called ‘Surfer Rules’. Hardly rules at all, but more like a set of things to think about, ideas to live by. We’ve added some, taken some away, but every once in a while, usually after coming back from recharging, we like to revisit them, for old time’s sake if nothing else….
1. Always take the beach road. Even when there is a modern highway right next door, where you can drive 55 or 60, pull off onto the beach road, turn off the AC, and roll down the windows. Take the beach road.