Getting Older And Suckier – And Trying Not To Care

Surfing on a wave is an amazing sensation, and one that only a small percentage of the world’s population will ever experience. We should all consider ourselves lucky to have ridden a wave–whether we stood up or not. This brings me to a feeling I had the other day while surfing a perfect left-hand point break on a distant shore. I felt my age creep up on me during the middle of my session–like asbestos creeping through a schoolhouse. I felt the chill of adulthood and all its problems slink into my knees and back. I started surfing slower, my turns started getting weak, I bowed down to Father Time and let him shit on me. I let the mold of self-doubt grow onto the cortex of my brain. Why am I getting worse at surfing? The question nagged me harder and harder with each rail-dig and turn-bog.

I thought of quitting, paddling in, giving up, then I thought of surfing’s gentlemen–Occy, Tom Carroll, Martin Potter, and Rabbit. These guys are all over 40 and they rip hard as ever. I know they must have a secret. Drugs, hypnosis, magic surfboards, fairy dust, f–king invisible angels pushing water off their rails when they turn–what was going on?

Then it hit me as I sat there (actually a wave hit me in the face ’cause I wasn’t paying attention). I came up out of the water and laughed at myself for being an idiot. A few other guys in the lineup laughed, too, because I must’ve looked like a real dumbass.

After the laughter, I sat up and realized why those guys and all the older dudes I know still rip–positive attitude. I don’t know how or why a head-high set smashing me in the face helped me realize this, but it did. I’m still young–I’m 27–and I should feel lucky that I’m healthy.

Sometimes I think all of us could use a nice slap in the face when we complain about surfing. We’re the lucky ones. Remember the old surf cliché, “the guy who’s surfing the best is, the guy who’s having the most fun.” That’s true, but when I see a young kid blast a huge air, I can’t help but hate the kid–young f–kers.Chris Cote