Bodysurfers are a throwback, guys and gals who didn’t get the memo that we should all be fighting for sponsors and pats on the back. I started out swimming with a friend and playing with the energy that unbeknownst to me was just an echo from a storm thousands of miles away. But I really started the first time I saw a guy bellyride a massive wave with ease. Coasting on the face, switching directions, all with complete control. He blew my mind. All at once I could imagine incredible things were possible with a simple pair of fins on my feet.
I became a consumer. I ate every youtube clip of Stewart or Cunningham or Wege or Panic I could find. Come Hell or High Water on repeat. Friendships with guys who loved to stick their heads in barrels spiraled into ritualistic buoy talk. When the horizon stopped bouncing we’d pine about the days when conditions were so good that our triceps throbbed and our hamburger feet needed tending.
Each swim out is another opportunity to learn something new about our craft. Mini-experiments, What happens when I kick this way while driving down the face? Can I get to the bottom and hold enough speed to complete this maneuver? Other bodysurfers are an easy study, always wondering; Why’d he drop his elbow before starting the spin? And each question punctuated by the joy in everyone’s eyes. Striking the balance between letting go of my conscious mind and engaging deliberate action is endless.
From time to time we are reminded that others are watching. Changing in the lot, a surfer lets us know he had fun watching, or a tourist will ask, “How can you do that with no board?” At one time, I was the one who had the shattered expectations of what it meant to ride waves rattling around my mind. I hold that lofty expectation in the trance of each stroke. Not only am I given the chance to traverse this natural border between terrafirma and mare, but I represent a breed of amphibious humans.
The creation of a unique memory in the eye of a passerby, might connect another soul to the aquatic world we love and protect. Granted, it is a lofty expectation, but people are tractor-beamed to the Ocean. It is impossible to tell which little Bambi-eyed rugrat will divine inspiration from a human form gliding on the surface of the big blue sea and so each wave is an act of creation through movement.