You know you want to.
How To Break The Law
If you think surfing is essential, prove it.
Surfing was considered a crime in many places over the past few months. In some of those places, it still is.
Two friends of mine have even been detained for it. They live in different parts of the world, in every sense of the word, and the details around their arrests vary. I know many more who have copped hefty fines.
Laws against surfing can seem hypocritical — runners may be allowed to run, cyclists may be allowed to cycle, etc — but they are not specifically designed to offend us. My understanding is that they’re there to protect us and our communities from throngs of dickheads traveling from all over the place to cough on our beaches. You should not feel victimized if your government has forbidden you from surfing.
The COVID situation is complex. The one thing I’m certain of is that I shouldn’t feel certain of much. To think hours spent reading about COVID-19 on the internet would be comparable to decades of education and experience in the field of epidemiology would be fucking loony.
So, I’m not here to talk about whether or not those laws should exist. I’m here to talk about how to break them.
Although I have not been fined or arrested, I have broken the law to surf recently. I think an important question to ask is why someone would do that. I’ll start addressing that question by highlighting a great reason why someone should not do that.
Because surfing is rebellious.
Have you seen surfing lately? Rebellion has been replaced by RedBullian. I guess the argument is that there’s some historical element we’re tasked with preserving. But where, exactly, is the logic in saying that you should endanger the general public because a guy named Miki committed credit card fraud 50 years ago or you grew up watching ...Lost videos?
Surfing means different things to different people, especially at different times in our lives. If you want to build a roof over those meanings and call it a culture, you also have to recognize that the roof has evolved and will continue to evolve over time.
Regardless of whether or not you think things are overblown, the bottom line is that everyone is being asked to make some degree of sacrifice for the greater good right now. And even if you get a sense of rebellion out of surfing, neglecting your role in this is not the same as blowing off a day of high school to go surf.
So, back to the question — why would you consider breaking those laws?
Because surfing makes you a better person. You’re healthier, you’re happier, and you simply have more to offer other people when you come in. Many of us cringe when presented with those concepts and especially explanations of them — no matter if that explanation is metaphysical or scientific. I think that’s because those concepts become so intuitive that they deserve to be ignored.
So then, how to surf if/when it’s illegal.
The first law of breaking the law is to use common sense. Stay informed. If there’s an outbreak in your area, don’t surf. If going surfing means coming in contact with people (at gas stations, restaurants, etc) you wouldn’t otherwise, don’t surf. If it’s super crowded, which I wouldn’t expect many illegal lineups to be, don’t surf.
Surfing is not an excuse to potentially spread a virus like this.
The second law of breaking the law is to consider the big picture. On the surface, someone like the rogue guy who SUPed at Malibu wasn’t harming anyone. Excessive resources aside, he was alone and the police weren’t going to stop at a coffee shop and allow him to sneeze at a barista on the way the station.
But on a deeper level, that’s a lame thing to do when so many people are sacrificing so much because of this. Think about the woman who had to give birth alone. Think about the grandparents who haven’t seen their families in months. Think about the person who had to say their final goodbye to their father in the hospital via FaceTime.
These people are immensely suffering due to protective measures. It ain’t right to bend those measures in order to surf sunny three-foot waves when we’re all supposed to be fighting a beast together.
Which brings us to the third law of breaking the law: If you think surfing is essential, prove it.
In Paris, at the height of the crisis, they made a rule banning outdoor exercise from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The point was to separate the people who felt a genuine need for that type of exercise from the people who were doing it just because they could. And even with such minimal restrictions, it worked.
Apply that logic to surfing illegally. Surf horrible waves. Surf at night. Surf in the howling wind and the pouring rain. Skip the good days (or perks like daylight) and surf conditions that nobody could be envious of. Not only does this level the sacrificial playing field, but it also drastically lowers your chances of getting caught. I speak from experience.
There are people who casually surf because they enjoy it, and then there are the psychopaths. The addicts. The people who cringed at the paragraph about it being good for you the same way I cringed while writing it. (My bad, it had to be said.)
If you fall into the first group, you might have to sit out for a minute. If you fall into the second group then, well, there’s a way to navigate this.
And if you do get arrested, don’t take it out on the cop. That person did not create that policy. They’re only doing their job.
If you’re going to break the law to surf, be smart, be kind. And have a very good time.