I first experienced Surfing back in 2007 along with my high school friends.
It was in Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales where we went for the ZFest event. I didn’t know that we’re going to be surfing. I thought it was just a barkada outing where we’ll bum on the beach and get drunk till dawn.
It was raining hard that time due to the landfall of Typhoon Egay (Sepat is the International Name), but this was fortunate (for us) since there will be nice waves. It was then that I knew that being on the beach during typhoons is a pleasant experience rather than a horrible one, at least in the Philippines.
I was no traveler back then. I haven’t been out of the country that time, and though I love going out of town for outings (mainly for the food and beer), I consider traveling as an expense for temporary fun and nothing more.
Not until I frequented joining the Surfing trips of my friends. That changed my outlook on travel, and perhaps, on life as well.
With this, I want to share with you guys, the five most important life lessons I learned through Surfing. Please do note that I’m no pro-surfer or even a good one. I’m just a simple guy who went to surfing trips and caught some few waves here and there, but the surfing principles and way of life affected me as a person.
5 Life Lessons I Learned In Surfing
1. I learned that WE ARE ALL EQUALS.
Surfing doesn’t discriminate. When you are out there in the lineup, no matter what your race, height, weight, age, sex, political views, religion or status in life is… You are all the same person trying to catch and ride that wave. I even read once in an article, that if the world is full of surfers, there would be no wars… Just all out peace.
You don’t have to be ultra-fit or have washboard abs to try out surfing. I even saw old men surfing better than the younger ones. Same goes for the “Healthy” people out there. I guess the only difference would be the choice of surfboards since a longboard is a better fit for our chubby friends. 😛
You also don’t need to be a good swimmer to try surfing contrary to what other people say. Though it helps to be a good swimmer, it is not a requirement to enjoy surfing. You just need to know the surfing etiquette before paddling out to the line-up like knowing what direction you’re going to jump when you are about to wipe-out or giving the wave to another surfer once he/she has claimed it first.
There is no shame in wiping out. Surfers help each other to be a better surfer, and it doesn’t end in the sea. Camaraderie is often built up after the surf sessions where all are invited to a party, make friends and have fun.
There’s no real competition in surfing (besides surfing tourneys) since you only compete with yourself. If, for some odd reason, someone is trying to put you down because you suck at surfing… just smile back and let him/her know that you are always trying to improve day by day. It would also be great if you can cheer and praise someone who caught a wave or did some maneuvers that he/she is perfecting for some time.
We are all living in the same world trying to have a better and happy life just like when we are in the line-up, waiting patiently for that perfect wave to catch and ride smoothly. So why not apply these good surfing principles of nondiscrimination, appreciation, and camaraderie in real life. That person beside you is not your enemy; he/she is just like you, waiting for the perfect wave.
2. I learned to appreciate and respect the environment more.
In every Surfing trip, we went to, I can’t help but notice that the locals and even travelers and tourists alike help each other maintain the beauty and cleanliness of the beach. It is unlike other commercial beaches where after a wild night, they’ll just leave the beach with garbage, broken bottles and even things you wouldn’t want to see or step into for that matter. It’s sad that we do this after all what nature is giving us.
I learned to respect the environment ever since I was a child (like by not throwing garbage/litters in the street) but I even respected the environment more the first time I saw the waves, paddled out and rode with it. It’s a different feeling the first time you ride a wave. It’s like you are one with nature. The wave was whispering in your ear while it pushes you to the shore in an unexplainable bliss.
I still clearly remember my first ride. I didn’t avail the surfing lessons with a professional instructor but who taught me how to ride was my friend. After some instructions from him, he just let me go on my own and try to ride that first wave. Then after patiently waiting, alas! I caught a wave! I stood up on the board, extended my arms for balance and rode the wave up to the sea shore. I was so ecstatic that I ran to my friends and shouted, “Naka sakay na Ako!” (I just caught a wave!) I was like a little kid who just received that toy he is dreaming of for years.
After more surfing trips, I noticed myself that I’m becoming more concerned about the environment. I am suddenly picking up trash on the beach, gets mad at smoke belching vehicles (even reported some) and just finding ways on how to help protect our natural resources. This is something I don’t do before, but when I started surfing, all of these happened to me.
Let’s all respect the places we are going to no matter where. We can even lend our hand to make that place better than before! Always remember this quote which I’m sure you often see when you travel… “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.”
3. I learned to appreciate old friends and make new ones.
It’s always great to travel with friends. You strengthen your bond, laugh together and cherish beautiful memories and first-time experiences. It’s always fun when I travel with friends, and most of those travels are our surfing trips. And in those trips, we can always tag along with our other friends and introduce them to the group. It’s a nice way of meeting new people!
My friend for a long time always tags me along to their surfing trips. And I appreciate that even though I don’t know most of the people in the group, he always introduce and acquaint me with them and doesn’t leave me out cold and silent in one corner.
I’m a bit of a shy type person back in those days, but I eventually developed my social skills and had the courage to be friends with persons whom I just met.
What clicked us all is the common interest we had, and it’s not just surfing. Be it technology, drinking, travels, crazy YouTube vids, music, food, sports and even relationships! We talk about everything under the sun. This all happened because we shared fun moments when surfing!
4. I learned to travel more through surfing.
Like what I mentioned in the first part of this article, I was no traveler back then. I consider traveling as an expense for temporary fun and nothing more. But since I frequented the surfing trips with my friends, I eventually realized that traveling is, well, more than fun! Besides riding the glorious waves, we also went day trips to places nearby the surf spot and ate at local restaurants to try their native dishes and delicacies. I said to myself, “Hey, traveling is more fun than I thought!”. And surprisingly, it wasn’t hard in the pocket either. We just stayed at fan rooms where we all slept together like canned sardines. Then in the morning (even though we still got hangovers), we rise early to catch some waves as the waves in the mornings are usually the best, and there are few people surfing, so you get to focus and more time for you to choose your waves.
I also learned the locals’ way of life and how they make a living other than surfing. Some sell bracelets and necklaces while others set up food stalls and cook. Tourism certainly helped these locals improve their standard of living, and I’m happy that they enjoy doing this while they get to surf anytime they want! Now, that’s the life they wouldn’t trade for the riches in the world, right?
After being immersed in the local surfing culture, I researched everything I can find about Surfing… worldwide. When I watched the documentary “Endless Summer” and it blew me away. I then said to myself again… “That’s it! It’s final! This will be my lifelong dream! Travel the world!”.
5. I learned that persistence, determination, and patience is the key to your goals.
You know what I’m talking about if you at least, once in your life, tried to surf. Before you get to the lineup, you’ll struggle and face the crushing waves and even wipe you out back to the shore like you are an indigested food vomited by the sea (Yes, that happened to me!). And you will wipe out, again and again, circling the waves and unfortunately for some, will get injured (please be safe always). There will be a time when you’ll say I had enough or I won’t be able to ride a wave. At first, you will say these common excuses, but if you don’t give up, it will eventually lead to motivation… Only if you strive harder.
That’s why it is the sweetest moment when you can catch and ride a wave. It is because you worked hard for it. You didn’t give up! Just like in life. You won’t achieve your goals if you don’t have persistence and determination to get it!
There will be times in your life that you’ll stumble, get down and even have nothing at all. This is the wipe-out part. Now, if only you get that board and paddle out again to the lineup with your game face on and patiently, and I mean PATIENTLY, wait for that one wave that will lead you to happiness, then I’m 100% sure you’ll get it and all your sufferings and sacrifices will be worth it.
This is the reason why I don’t give up on my goals and strive to be better every day. There’s always a good ending if you work hard (and smart) for it. That’s why I love the quote “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you get up.”
BONUS Life Lesson!
6. I learned that Surfing is forever.
Last year, I diagnosed with Grade 1 Spondylolisthesis on my lumbar spine. I did not acquire this in surfing, but in sitting too much in the office. I work as an IT consultant, and when the tasks are pouring in, I can’t even take a break sometimes.
This disheartened me at first because I won’t be able to play intense basketball again and especially Surfing since it takes a solid backbone to be able to get up the board and balance.
But even if I won’t be able to surf again, just to watch people surf is happiness to me. Like what I did this year for our family’s summer outing. Instead of going to the usual Los Banos private pool overnight outing, I suggested we go somewhere far where they can try a different activity to experience. I suggested Baler, Aurora.
Seeing your family surf for the very first time was a superb experience to me. All I can see are smiles, and it is obvious that they were having a good time even though they got muscle pains the morning after (hehe, feel the burn guys!).
Surfing is not a sport. It is a lifestyle. A way of life that touches people’s hearts around the world including me. And this way of life and principles will live with me forever even If I won’t be able to surf again. Or maybe I can try alternatives… Paddle boarding, kite/wind/body surfing perhaps? Yeah, I think it’s time to get stoked again.
Looking for other articles? Check out our DIY Travel Guides Around the World and City Guides (Awesome Things to do in each Destination). For cheap and luxurious places to stay while traveling, here’s our ultimate list of best hostels and hotels!
About the Writer
Jayson Concepcion, He is a programmer by profession but has a soul of a traveler. Aside from his ultimate dream of traveling around the world, he loves to eat, drink, listen to music, talk about aliens and the occasional secret guilty pleasure of singing love songs in videoke. His favorite superpower is to teleport from one place to another. I guess you know why.
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