Senator Barak Obama’s acceptance speech of 28 August 2008 for the Democratic Party nomination is a spectacular analogy for having the courage to go for a wave. Over 80,000 people were watching from the stadium. Many pundits predicted he’d fail. Opponents had sought to undermine his confidence, painting him as a mere celebrity. Even friends of the Senator wondered if the stage set for the speech went over the top, with pseudo Grecian pillars setting him up for more ridicule for being all show and no substance. However, he saw an opportunity coming. He made a commitment, and he did not let fear, self-doubt or doubters undermine his focus. Courage to stick with a commitment made is one of the most central attributes of successfully surfing through life.
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton made a rousing speech, asking her supporters to back Senator Barack Obama. However close the primary contest might have been, Senator Obama caught the wave ahead of Senator Clinton. If a surfer catches a wave ahead of you, which means you would block their path should you take the wave, then you should pull out. Hillary Clinton did the right thing. Surfing ettiquette is often exactly right for life in the real world.
Sports enthusiasts often draw analogies between their sport and real life. This blog will illuminate the many lessons for life that can be drawn from the sport, or life, of surfing. This might be distinguished from other such accounts in two major ways. First, few people believe that surfers succeed in real life, and therefore seldom draw from surfing to shed light on coping with the real world. Secondly, most accounts are written by the superstars of sport or of life. We have not been stars on the surf or in life, but we have enjoyed the rides in both arenas. We hope our readers will share some of our enthusiasm for surfing and living, and all the challenges they pose.
Here are some of the themes we will address in posts yet to be written:
- You, your board and other wave tools
- What are we doing here?
- Being in the right place
- Go for it!
- When to pull out
- Don’t take someone else’s wave
- Every wave is different
- When to leave a wave
- Hold on to your board
- Stay at the back of the board
- Sitting on your board: the art of waiting
- The importance of a surfing buddy
- Starting a conversation with a surfer — useful hints
- Getting out of the soup
- Gaining confidence to make intuitive choices
- When to punch through
- When to turtle
- Making a commitment
- Fear causes injuries
- Never turn your back
- Insiders, outsiders, surfers
- Staying away from kooks
- The surfer’s role as scenery
- Its a sport
- Wiping out with dignity
We welcome suggestions of other themes, and criticism of any of our suggestions about surfing or life. Go for it!
Bill has gone from being a surf bum in California to become a professor at one of the world’s top universities.
So how did it go so horribly wrong, and what did Bill learn from surfing?