You and one friend are feasting on a 2- to 3-foot peak as an army of endorphins march through your brain like Genghis Kahn. The setting sun dries salt water on your skin, leaving you with a feeling that all is well in the world.
As the sun bids good night, a final green flash signals go. You strap your boards on the roof and your favorite hits are keyed up for the ride home.
It’s all perfect until a friend peels into the parking lot, slams on his brakes and manically proclaims, “You guys missed it!” You try to explain how you scored; pointing down the beach to the dribbling beach break you left behind.
He is having none of it.
Just then he goes into a long, painful description of a reef you know of just south of the border where he and a friend traded overhead barrels until their legs were too cramped to move any longer.
The ride home is as solemn as if your 2020 candidate just went down in humiliating defeat.
Frustrating scenario number two can occur when you are surfing the right spot.
The tide has drained out and each wave is a tribute to the Creator’s symmetrical artistry. You are replaying your last wave — the late drop on that overhead wall, the buried rail on the bottom turn, a momentary cover up and a hard bounce off that final inside section.
Just then your friend paddles over and tells you how you outran the section and could have scored your first dry barrel in months. “You might consider using smaller rail fins and riding your smaller board,” he advises.
The compliment you anticipated has vaporized along with your good mood, and the stylish ripping you envisioned yourself doing has been replaced by the self-image of a stinkbug.
You flip your board over and examine your fins that now appear to be the size of those on a ’64 Caddy.
You feel sluggish on your next wave and paddle back out to observe your friend disappear behind the curtain, flying out and laying into a deep cutback that nearly chokes you with its spray. You consider taking up golf.
You know how this plays out — there’s always something better around the bend and that makes it difficult to be satisfied. That has happened to me while surfing what we considered perfect waves on Maui until we were told that the swell was missing Maui and hitting Oahu. Or, the cove around the corner was bigger, faster, steeper and nobody was out. Your board you are riding is obsolete. You were shoulder-hopped on the wave of the day.
Didn’t our parents warn us about this in the little proverb about the grass being greener over the hill? In this case it could be that the waves are bluer and bigger and better just down the beach. I know it’s impossible, but try to not fall for it. You are riding a wave that was formed in chaos and then traveled thousands of miles for your enjoyment. Say thank you to whatever deity you worship.
If you are an atheist, thank the wave for the miracle you have just encountered. Like this moment, it is gone forever.