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Friday, January 31, 2014

Surfing in Isolation | Why I Surf

By Athair Baer
Today’s coffee & walk across the street to the rail above the sand at the Huntington shoreline is brought to you by a thin and glaring marine layer blocking the view of the Pacific Coast Highway – which offers a fun game of Frogger as I cross, dodging light traffic, and the guy unloading his giant board from the sup rack on his car.

We have ourselves a very shapely three to five foot curl with the occasional six intimidating us
taller folks this morning. It’s pretty walled out, per the usual, but there’s some teasing rights
and lefts that have delayed falls which some of the better surfers are taking advantage of on
their thrusters.

For those who are making it down to the water today, it’s a peaceful, isolated, surf session.

Isolated… It honestly doesn’t matter how many people are out on the water. When you’re on
your board, it is very contrary to Jon Don’s philosophy that “no man is an island unto
himself”, because that’s exactly what it feels like to me. My board becomes my own little
island. Sure, you have your pal(s) with you; a few of the regulars; maybe one of the local high
school surf teams nearby (we’ll get to the funny groms another time); it doesn’t matter.
There’s very little to carry the sound of their voices – and maybe that’s what makes everything
else seem so far away.

There’s an obvious commonality between isolation and solitude, but they’re very, very, very,
different. You might be a yoga person, practice centrism – that is, finding your center, and
focusing on your breathing. This is solitude. Your state of mind. This might be more of a zen
thing that comes to a lot of the “Point Break” Bodhi-s out there, but it isn’t where I go. “You
take your solitude with you,” if you will.

Isolation allows a person to sift through their thoughts no matter how fun or stressful, and be
completely at peace. I see you. I hear the hush of the traffic on PCH. I hear quiet distant laughs and small conversation. Then there’s me: I like to just lay my forehead down in the small pool of water that blankets over my board while I sit between sets. My suit keeps me warm, and the icy chill of the water on my face feels like that last splash of water after a clean shave: now I’m awake, and ready for the day.