The habits of a lifetime slowly slipping to the side.
The 'early to bed, early to rise and ride' ethos of a lifetime eroding as surely as a shoreline.
The cold of winter doesn’t help. It takes a special set of conditions to justify the jetisioning of warm bed covers in order to tilt coastward in search of waves.
Sleep in, show up late is the new norm.
Wet wetsuits, biting breezes, big bities following mullet and whales. Mental impediments or convenient excuses abound. Wrong swell direction, wrong wind direction, straight banks, or gutter banks, or no banks, all just cover stories for a creeping, worryingly waning desire to actually just go surfing.
After thirty years surfing the same breaks the trap of 'I know that, I’ve surfed that, I can't be arsed going out' is sprung more and more often.
What kind of surfer are you when you stop feeling like going surfing?
Still, the trips to the beach continue, the rhythms of a lifetime take time to rewire and reimagine.
With routine the only real driving force, you trundle to the coast, no real commitment or intent in your actions. None of that desperate, lustful, maddening passion that used to whirl like a gyro inside your guts, that drove you into flat surf, scrappy surf, dangerous surf, any fucking surf, none of it remains.
...or so you thought.
Sunny, clean, fun-sized swell lines bring a Pavlovian response.
Like a stallion that scents the air, the tickling in the back of the nostrils, the head is raised and drawn instinctively towards the furthest headland, the fickle yet locally mythologised land of aquatic milk and honey. The now intoxicating possibility of prospective waves is an impulse too strong to resist. The mind's eye manifesting images of irresistible peaks.
Before, surfing out the front of the carpark felt too far to trudge, now a few kilometres in the foot falcon seems undaunting.
You walk and walk and walk, faster with each step as the headland and its envisioned vistas now dance from imagined possibility into concrete reality.
Left peak, right peak, take your peak. Uncluttered canvases to cavort upon, the joy of the randomness and the magical possibilities of the ocean overwhelming the senses as you wallow in the waves. A hoot and a holler after every ride.
Returning to the shore burnt, burnt out and yet somehow brighter, you start the long march home, comforted by the knowledge that while desire may sometimes diminish, days like today ensure it will never be extinguished.
// DAN DOBBIN
(All photos Craig Brokensha)