I’ve known some great surfers...
...and seen some who surf great. There’s a difference.
I've seen many different kinds of athletes in my life, and had Olympic gold medalists on my swim teams and have observations about people who are truly great at their chosen passion.
I can summarize the best athletes into two categories:
1. Those who are really really good at their sport and do their best to make sure everyone knows it.
2. Those who are really really good at their sport and enjoy their passion with those around them.
If you were to put me into one of the above categories, you couldn't because I am not really really good at surfing, I just like to surf a lot.
When I am surfing, the best times I have usually involve bumping into people who are just having a good time, can carry on a conversation (however limited), can be happy and polite. I see awesome surfers doing things that I did not know could be done (Greg Levy), and have still in my mind the images of rubber band bodies upside down on huge waves turning on a dime.
When you see someone that good at surfing, it's an incredible thing to see and hard to forget. Even more memorable is the style and grace with which these superior athletes treat other surfers, even the beginners and the crappy surfers.... always friendly and polite.
This friendly state of mind brings me back to college swimming days when I was swimming with world class athletes. Happy go lucky and non-bragging could summarize those who were on my team. They didn't need to brag or show off, everyone knew how good they were, they were so cool and laid back. Silent confidence is attractive.
It's a stark contrast to the people who just surf well- the ones who disrespect non-locals, drop in on strangers or those who they don't respect, converse at the top of their voices for all to hear and to assert their own self-perceived dominance, with loud obnoxious swearing arguments during almost every session. For those of you who have never experienced this-good for you, hope you never have to. They think the place belongs to them, and that there is a food chain of sorts, and they are on top.
Maybe that's one reason I like to get in the water as much as possible at the butt-crack of dawn before most everyone else. It's so cool striking up a surf session with like-minded wave-loving friendly people who don't think so much of themselves that they lose sight of the whole picture.
Heard this song as I was finishing this last post so funny!
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