A funny thing happens when you’re paddling about on the ocean,
the spray on your face and the sun in your eye.
Reading the current,
you scan the immediate horizon and feel the ceaseless pulse and surge of tidal energy
beneath and all around you.
You are already dancing with it,
locking into its rhythm.
You follow the drift to the point in the cycle
where the energy transforms,
Drawing you in.
Fingertips alert to every subtle tug and pull of the current,
you map the submarine geometry
of each shifting shadow with your mind’s eye
out beyond the foam,
the surface tension begins to yield
to the depths from whence it rises.
You sit up,
legs dangling like baited hooks as,
away on the horizon,
peaks merge and solidify,
gently, at first,
the sea around you begins to stir,
Out in the middle distance,
long valleys appear,
mustering now into uniform battalions
of steadily advancing lines.
All before the front rank,
the surface ripples stretch taut,
then are consumed by the oncoming surge.
Head down, you trace their arc,
striking hard for the highest point,
looming now like long-sunken battlements from some ancient civilisation,
crumbling and precarious above you.
Time slips a gear as you begin the final ascent and the land,
and the life you lead there,
with all its doubts and misgivings,
Everything is at once obvious:
the motion of the clouds,
the phases of the moon,
the very fragility of human existence…
what giants men can be!
You are a king,
as you turn and launch yourself,
over the edge of reason,
Into the void.
What happens after that,
in those eternal short split seconds,
is an attempt to realise an idea –
THE idea –
that surfing represents to you.
That’s the art.
Devoid of meaning or wider social purpose,
surfing is a fleeting dance with life –
the whole idea of life.
In that void,
for those few brief,
reality is suspended and faith is restored.
You are taking the universe’s pulse,
and it is taking yours,
and all possibilities exist at once.
You are alive.
– Mark Sutherland
Photos by Albert Falzon