The Burning Lungs of Perseverance

Updated: Mar 22


When I read the surf report and the waves are showing to be 10ft+, I immediately feel two emotions at the same time.

  1. Pure excitement

  2. Dread

Now, the dread is an interesting one. It stems from knowing that on days with big waves, I only have so much energy. Theres a limit to what my body can take. Theres a limit to how hard I can breathe. How long I can be held under water. How long I can take the salt water burn in my eyes. Because on these days you have to give your all or get the fuck out of the water.


So the dread is from knowing I'm going to be in pain. I'm going to - at some point - be struggling to breathe. My arms are going to burn like fire as I bring myself back to a lineup.


But the pure excitement wins out every time.


Today I told myself "Last wave" three times. And I kept paddling back in for more. I felt like each of my limbs were about to fall off of me. My shoulders were burning with the rage of a thousand suns, my lungs were being absolutely tested (another reason to stick to my NYE resolution of keeping my promise to not smoke), and everything had a glare because of the salt water that was making a home in my eyes.


But on big wave days, when you nail that drop in, none of it fucking matters. There was a point when I had to paddle for the life of me as a sneaker wave came up and was going to crash on top of the lineup, and you know what? I secretly love those. Because although it drains my body of its' life force, right when I get up over the lip, I let go of my board and let myself fly for a second, then land sitting on my board laughing like a crazy chick. It's like this little "rollercoaster" reward for doing something absolutely painful.


Granted, I don't make over those sneaker waves every time. Having an 11ft wave close out on top of you is... terrifying. But I find myself not panicking anymore. I let the water contort my body, drag it through the break, and test my understanding of where "up" is. Then I get up, pull myself on my board, and paddle out for more.


The more I surf, the more I almost look forward to these tests, because I can feel myself getting better. Usually on wave days like this, I can only ride about three waves, because the paddle back out into the lineup drains me so much. But today I caught 8. I tried to go for nine, but I physically could not make it past the white water by the end of it.


But all through the session I could hold my breath longer, paddle harder, ride longer, and I was able to appreciate my own perseverance and determination. I easily could have fucked off and said it was too hard and cursed Poseidon, but I've learned to enjoy to burn, enjoy the journey.


One of my 2021 goals is to surf a 20ft wave. If I can't handle the burn of a 12ft wave, then I don't deserve the absolute thrill of the 20ft.

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