Last Saturday the surf at Palm Beach was perfect, especially for those concerned about the finned monsters who prowl out in the deep. All of the wave action was less than 100 metres out, as clean and powerful as you’d ever hope to see.

To compliment it, the sky was cloudless and crisp Gold Coast blue, the water warm, the air warmer and with not a hint of wind to trouble the glassy ocean. Set after set of three to five foot swells rose to capture the bobbing surfers and shoot them along on exhilarating rides. I even heard a few “yahoos”.

Now I am not a surfer, I’ve never surfed (I say it is because I don’t like the sport, my mother, because she is brutally honest, says it is because I am too lazy) but as I watched I envied the surfers for the simplicity of their efforts that brought such joy.

I have come to learn that it is the way with surfers. No matter what trials, disappointments, and fears trouble them on land, being amongst the waves puts their minds at rest. It is not just the distraction of the play, it is a deep flushing of the pent-up anxiety. In the worst of times this may last no longer than the session itself, but the fact that it occurs at all is often enough to kick start the surfer into hope.

On Sunday, same place, same time, the temperature had dropped and the wind had risen and was busily chopping the surface to make surfing more like rolling down a corrugated road. Only the intrepid and desperate were seeking waves but the lookout deck at Nineteenth Ave was crowded with those who’d come in hope and decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

I eaves-dropped their conversations (for what else do you do when surrounded by strangers?) They shared stories of how great it was yesterday, and how it was like that time back in …., and how great it will be when the swell is big enough to get the artificial reef doing its thing, and how great Burleigh and Kirra and The Alley were last month. No one was moaning about the current conditions, or how they’d missed out on yesterday. Their focus was on the good that had been, and the good they were sure would come.

What a life lesson! Surfing is about enjoying the moment as it is, when it is. And when it is not, it is remembering how good it once was and looking forward to when it will be again. This approach is too simplistic for some of what life brings, but not for all of it. Too easily we are flipped by the weight of disappointment, failure, or trials and they suffocate our joyous experiences and drain our memories and hopes.

Let’s live like surfers by starting each day checking where the good spots are likely to be, making every effort to get to them, enjoying every moment of them when we find them, and then letting the memory and highlights carry us through the dark when it arrives.

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