So there I sat, my first English class with me as the 'teacher' about to have a one to one lesson with an attractive young lady we'll call Junko. This particular outrageously overpriced institution that fell over in about 1992 was popular with young ladies, probably because of the massive stucco pink bows that adorned the buildings that housed the schools, and nothing to do with the fact that they could have private 'lessons' with foreign boys! It was supposedly a 'conversation' lesson that quickly descended into a question and answer session! What's your name? Where do you from? Can you use chopsticks? Now, apart from the obvious 'teaching opportunity' of the second question, I was on safe ground; the chopsticks one was still new to me at that point! Then came the, “What is your hobby?” What's my.... I was stumped! There I sat, a freshish faced 26 years old, coolish suit, longish hair... and I'm thinking, “Do I look like a stamp collector, a train spotter?” I do karate, I play bass, I work, I eat... I do stuff; till that moment it had never occurred to me that I might have a hobby; a domain and a word exclusively reserved for nerds, or so I foolishly assumed!
Fast forward about 20 years and I can tell Junko that I finally have a beautiful hobby, except that she's probably married to Bob and living in Texas! I'm a surfer, Junko! My hobby is surfing. I'm from the UK, an island that is by definition surrounded by ocean, but when I was growing up about the closest anyone that I knew came to surfing was watching Hawaii Five-O (a 60s/70s cop show) on TV!
In stark contrast to most other sports where there's a goal to score, a hoop to make or a time to beat, surfing is an end unto itself. Even in its competitive form, the point is simply to ride waves as stylishly as possible (and score points for doing so)! Once you're past the frustrating early stages and can go play with the big boys on the better waves, and after you've worked out the rule (don't drop in when someone else is on a wave), you become aware that surfing is, though it helps to have a little, not really about dexterity or ability. It's purely about recreation, the pursuit of pleasure, experiencing the power of nature and to ultimately be at one with it, with the wave, not to mention the fact that it's a great upper body workout to boot! Don't go on a diet, go on a surfboard! Lose weight, build strength, and have a great time doing it! As Kelly Slater put it circa 2004 though, once you start surfing, as with joining the Mafia, once you're in, you're not getting out!