One pitiful wave is better than even your greatest Instagram scroll. Photo: Alan van Gysen
The Glory Of The No-Look Paddle Out
Stop checking the waves.
Should we check it?
How many times have you asked that question? How many times have you been asked that question? How many times have the pistons of your brain fired that question into a conscious thought that you have asked of your lonely self?
Probably many. Your brain doesn’t have pistons though.
The concept of looking at the waves seems like a logical thing for the neurological pathways of your brain to fire into conscious thought. You gotta know what you’re getting into. Check if the waves are any good, if the tide has already ruined it all. See how many people are out, run some ocular pat-downs, figure out whose car you might have to key later, etc. Fair enough.
It’s fair because checking the waves — whether it’s on a cam or from a car park or on a walk down to your local — leads you to the answer of an important question. Are you going to surf? Asking yourself that is essentially asking yourself if you hate fun, happiness, sex, nature, whales, zen, mental health, physical stamina, meteorology, life, god, sand and Jason Stevenson all at once.
When you check the waves, all you’re really doing is setting yourself up to not surf.
Now, there are days when elements align and if you blindly paddle out somewhere you risk missing once-in-a-exaggerated-amount-of-time greatness at another spot well within your range. On those days, yes, check it. Obviously. And then there are the days when the surf is just alright and you have the luxury of choosing an ideal time. And if that’s the case then yes, check it. Check it four times. Maybe five. Knock yourself out.
But then there are the normal days. When the surf is sub-par, and you have work or school or a date or an appointed with a dentist who wants to put on rubber gloves and feel around your gums like a weirdo. On those days, checking the waves is an absolute cannibal move. You might as well aim a Glock at your ankle. You are calling Jason Stevenson’s personal phone number and explaining your distaste for his existence in general.
So it is on those days — the any days, the every days — that you must recognize the miraculous glory of the no-look paddle out. If you’re unfamiliar with the no-look paddle out, it’s simple. You don’t look at the waves. You paddle out.
Will there be times when you force yourself into horrible conditions? Yes. Might you surf the worst waves of your life? Absolutely. Could there be times when you don’t even catch a wave at all? Sure. But will you ever be upset with yourself for at least attempting to surf? Fuck no. The worst wave of your life will still feel better than the best Instagram scroll.
So be blind. Be brave. A recent study showed that there are over 26 million arranged marriages per year, and that arranged marriages have a mere 6.3% divorce rate. What that teaches is us is that there is a bunch of weird shit that happens on this planet so if your life is good enough to include surfing, you should consider yourself very lucky. Not taking advantage of that luck is simply unjust to all the people who have to marry strangers they haven’t even fucked yet.
Because at the end of the day (or at dawn too), the less you look at the waves, the more you go surfing.