Take me to the ocean. Take me to that place where giants shake the earth. Where thunderous waves rise like mountains from the deep, relentless, effortless and strong.
Take me there and I will tell you who I am.
I am small and weak, a mere man amidst giants. I am afraid, but fear will not control me.
It is there, staring up at towering walls of water, that I realise what matters most… I am here, now, in this moment. I am at the mercy of the ocean and it is no respecter of persons.
I am not safe, secure or sane but I am alive.
Pipe, Supers, Magnas and Vic-bay. To some these are just names, places on a map. To others they are battlefields, sacred spaces where courage is forged, places where surfers are born.
I am new to the world of surfing. I’m not even sure that what I do can be called surfing. But I have known what it is to glide over the waters with nothing between you and the deep blue but fiberglass and foam. And there, heart beating in my chest, sea spray in my face, seemingly at one with the ancient sea, everything fades away and all that exists is the moment.
Out there with the waves I am free.
Over the past week I have had the privilege of paddling out into what are arguably some of the best surf spots in South Africa. I have been battered and bruised and liberated by a power beyond my control. I have shared the water with dolphins and otters, been silenced by the rising sun on the distant horizon and floated at peace on the tides that come from places unknown.
In it all I have been convinced of a wonderful truth.
We will not know the freedom of the ocean without leaving the familiarity of the shore.
What is your beach? What is your ocean? Face your fear, find your courage, get into the deep waters where you are far from safe but fully alive.