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Surfing asks little of surfers, but it could still use your help, like picking up plastic on the beach. Stock photo
Columns Waterspot

The cost of a free ride

“The price of a surfboard is about a penny a wave.”

— Bill Caster

Other than waves, all you need to surf is some sort of bathing suit, a bar of wax and, of course, a surfboard.

Surfing is, no doubt, the most fun activity possible for the least amount of money. Much like an overly indulgent parent, it gives everything and asks nothing in return.

It’s no wonder then that we so often become spoiled and feel entitled to the best of everything the ocean can serve up.

A spoiled child is one thing, but seeing a fully grown surfer throw a tantrum whenever they are faced with less than uncrowded perfection is shameful.

I learned the lesson of gratitude at an advanced age, many years ago after fighting a losing battle with a crowd at Cardiff Reef.

Leaving the water after an unsatisfying session where a crowd of overly amped loggers boxed me in and kept me from catching anything, I wandered home, sulking, head down.

As I walked, I looked up to see a man dragging two bodyboards in the sand behind him. His silly grin caused me to think him a fool.

That was until I noticed the prosthetic leg and the young boy who walked alongside him, looking up and trying to keep pace. The man had been cheated by life through disease or war, but all he could see ahead of him was a beautiful day.

I sat down in the sand as the crowd in the lineup disappeared, and he and the child I presume was his son, made their way a few feet from shore to the whitewater, catching tiny waves, laughing and smiling in the same ocean I felt I had demanded more from.

While surfing asks nothing, it can, nonetheless, use our help. Surfers travel the world, return home, brag about what we received, with not a word about what we gave.

Each of us can give something back, even if it’s only to clean up after the slob who left the wrappings of our plastic society on the beach.

Complaining that it’s not our mess is like sitting in a bathtub with your younger brother. If he pees in the tub, it quickly becomes your problem. (I have no suggestion on fixing that one.) 

Beyond the responsibility to clean up the beach, it is the duty of each of us to keep our own inorganic waste at a minimum. Drive less, use as little plastic as possible, recycle and reuse everything.

And please keep in mind that the environment is not limited to land, sea and sky — it involves everything on earth, including our attitudes and the ugly words I have been guilty of contaminating the earth with.

Whenever I have a bad day surfing (there should not be such a thing), I remember the man using his one leg to get out in the water to share the time of his life with his son.

I hope to someday be as good as surfer as he is.

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