Along the Garden Route and within the Cape provinces of South Africa March is generally considered to be one of the last summer months.
April, May and sometimes even June brings sunny and warm days, but after March the nights cool down, the days get much shorter and winter starts its chill.
But I’ve come to appreciate winter. It’s a different season. We huddle around indoor fireplaces and wear multiple layers of clothing.
It reminds me of cycles.
Seasons come and go. That’s nature.
As I said goodbye to our guests from March Surf Tour, our last Surf Tour for the 2012 / 2013 summer season, it suddenly dawned on me. Summer is actually over. Winter is almost here.
But summer will come again! And with it our next Surf Tour at the end of October and beginning of November 2013!
For now winter is here and those endless summer days are gone.
As surfer I am fortunate. I have a special reason to appreciate winter. This is the season for storms in the Southern Atlantic ocean. That means solid swells all along the coast of South Africa! So it’s time to bring out the bigger step up board, a thicker leash and a warm winter wetsuit, because there’s some cooking waves to be surfed!
Winter means it’s time to start driving up and down the coast, looking for waves! We’ve already had the first winter swell in the past week or so. Compared to summer fun, the power of the waves are incredible! This is serious surf!
Everybody loves summer, and so do I! Warm weather, lots of sunshine, girls in bikinis warm nights and an early sunrise!
Summer will come again and next season’s Unravel Surf Travel Tours will be even better than before! But now it’s winter, and despite what many people think, that isn’t a bad thing at all! Especially not if you’re a surfer!
I’ve been teaching people how to surf all summer long. Now it’s my turn to crank up the surfing and push the limits one notch higher!
As always there’s a lesson in all of this.
Provided that we’re prepared to look at things for what they really are, there’s always something to be learnt from nature. The changing of the seasons serves as a powerful reminder that everything comes in cycles.
And as much as we’ve tried convincing ourselves that we’re above and beyond nature, the truth is that we’re as much a part of nature, and dependent upon it, as everything else on planet earth.
Without sunshine plants don’t manufacture oxygen and without oxygen we cannot survive. Without sunshine, water won’t evaporate from the surface of the ocean and the water cycle will stop. Without rain and fresh water we cannot survive. We’re as dependent on the natural light of the sun as the trees in our forests and the fish in our oceans.
It’s only in our thinking that we’ve separated ourselves from nature. Especially in our economic, financial and political thought we generally place ourselves in charge. Above the cycles of nature.
But even our thoughts are cyclical. Like nature. How many times have you caught yourself thinking the same thought over and over again? Like that song that was stuck in your head just the other day?
The truth is that everything is cyclical. Events repeat themselves in cycles. We gain, we lose and we gain again. We make mistakes, if we learn from those mistakes, we make other mistakes and we learn more. If we don’t learn from those mistakes we make the same mistakes again.
Nowhere is it more important to acknowledge the cyclical nature of things than in the emotional world of human beings.
Every human with the courage to be honest with themselves will attest to the fact that emotions inevitably come and go. Up and down. Up and down. We feel good and then we feel bad, and eventually we feel good again.
So what’s the point of all of this?
If emotions are cyclical and we can do as little about emotion as we can about the changing of the seasons, then why bother talking about it?
Because we rarely admit that emotions are cyclical. Wars, both personal and global, have been fought as a result of this ignorance. We’ve forgotten that bad feelings come and go and so we blame other people and situations for what we feel.
We all know that seasons come and go. Even a pre-school child will tell you that autumn follows summer and winter follows autumn. But remind the average person that their good mood won’t last and they’re likely to erupt with anger and accuse you of all kinds of things. Remind the average person that their bad mood won’t last and they’re unlikely to believe a word you say.
Try and tell the average person that no one else, nor their current situation, is responsible for how they feel, and they will call you a liar. They’ll say: “What do you mean it’s not his fault?! Off course it’s his fault! He makes me feel like this! He always makes me feel bad! I wish I never have to see him again!”
Try and tell the average person that feelings come and go regardless of what other people do and they will think you’re crazy.
But go and live totally alone on an island for a while and you will quickly discover that feelings, whether good or bad, are still there. Even if nothing else changes, your feelings will.
All around us, and within ourselves, it is evident to see that cycles come and go, and come again.
Nature shows us that cycles flow as the seasons do, and yet we do not allow that same flow of emotion within ourselves.
We chase good emotions, we pursue them as if that’s the purpose of life, to feel good. We avoid feeling bad as if there’s something wrong with it. As if we’re doomed to be failures because we feel bad.
And thus, like water that stands still for too long, many of us become stagnant.
The energy of life, of which emotion is an integral part, is supposed to flow. From good to bad and back to good again. Without the suffering of pain how would we be able to appreciate the beauty of joy?
What goes up, must come down. And what comes down will inevitably go up again.
It’s a lot like surfing a wave.
You cannot remain absolutely still and expect to be able to surf a wave. You have to move with the wave.
In fact, if you ask any advanced surfer to summarize the basics of good surfing in no more than four words, they’re likely to say “bottom turn, top turn”
That’s how advanced surfers generate enough speed to do manoeuvres. Some even generate enough speed to do incredible aerials!
And there are two things that all good surfing manoeuvres have in common. They’re all preceded by a deep bottom turn and they’re all executed at the top of the wave. It’s that simple. And yet it takes years or perhaps a lifetime to master this.
Because everyone knows that feeling good can send you to the top of the world. And yet everyone also knows that you cannot stay there forever. Somehow you’re always bound to go back down, from where you’ll have to work your way up again.
And perhaps therein lies the secret to a truly successful life.
Every surfer knows that after years of practice surfing happens naturally. Your body simply knows what to do. There’s no time for your mind to be telling your body what to do. In fact, if there’s too much thought going through your head, your chances of really surfing the wave is slim. To be a good surfer you must simply let it flow.
Similarly, to live a successful life, you must let it flow.
One of the things that will bring peace to this turbulent planet of ours is the understanding that good follows bad, and bad follows good. Neither is more desirable than the other. Both are part of life’s cycles. And both are required for life to exist.
That’s not to say that we can’t enjoy the good times. It’s just to say that perhaps life is about more than just enjoying the good times. It’s about learning from the bad times too.
I look forward to learning more and sharpening my surfing skills this winter. But like every other winter before it, I know it won’t always be easy. Surfing serious waves most certainly isn’t just fun. It’s a challenge. Much like life.
The important question in life isn’t “How much good times can I possible have?” Because we all know that bad inevitably follows good. And if you don’t believe me, life will eventually teach you that lesson.
The important question is: “Can we enjoy the good times AND accept the challenge to improve ourselves when the bad times do come?”
I say bring it on!
Yours in surfing, love and life.
Unravel Surf Travel.com
All photos by Jenya