Waves of Water, Waves of Energy ~ Guest Post by Dyana King

 Dyana and I met while I was teaching surfing in Mexico in 2004.  She has since become a good friend and recently has become  an athletic and performance coach, transition coach, and facilitates FutureShaper Roundtables after years of owning her own business.  I love this inspirational article she's written about learning to surf, surfing as a metaphor for life, and connecting with energy and ourselves.  Read on, enjoy, and check out Dyana's website for more . 

Waves of Water, Waves of Energy

By Dyana King 

“Paddle, paddle, paddle—paddle HARD!” These words, whether shouted by a surf instructor encouraging a student or uttered non-verbally in my head, are aimed at creating the same outcome: to catch a wave and glide down its open peeling face. Every surfer knows this simple joy; the sensation of sliding across the face of a wave inspires us to do it again and again. What is so alluring about this particular experience? Ask any surfer that question and you are likely to get a wide variety of answers, but at some point, they will just wistfully look out to the horizon and say, “I don’t know, I just love it. It makes me feel good, I guess.”

If you were to ask this surfer that question, I would probably start with explaining that, for me, surfing is a powerful metaphor for life. Everything we can experience, sense, think, and do is literally vibrating energy. When I am riding a wave, I am not riding a wave of water, I am riding a wave of energy moving through water. The ocean is a medium that invites me to interact with the Earth’s energy at one of its most dynamic moments. An ocean wave hitting the beach is the culmination of wind energy transferred to water. Having traveled from many miles away, this energy finally meets the shallow bottom and heaves the ocean into the giant gaping maw of Mavericks or the peeling walls of machinelike perfection that have drawn hordes to Malibu for generations. Big wave chargers and longboard sliders engage with this energy in their own way, spontaneously navigating varying challenges, whether they be mental, spiritual, physical or environmental; surfing demands that we meet the ocean in the present moment and on her terms.

I love the saying, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” As we go through life and if we pay attention, we learn how to live life. We find the courage to overcome our fear of drowning that could keep us from ever paddling out in the first place, just as we endeavor to overcome the fears that keep us playing small in life and hinder us from achieving our potential. We acquire knowledge of board design and the tides, currents, and bottom bathymetry so we are perfectly positioned and equipped for the wave of the day just as we prepare and establish best practices in business to maximize opportunities when they present themselves. Surfing brings us face-to-face with our physical and mental limitations and provides us a play space to experiment and push through our limitations. Surfing informs us that when we are at play, our mind is at its most creative and innovative and that doing is work while being is effortless.

A Buddhist proverb says that in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. Surfing reminds us that no matter how many times we have surfed, no matter how experienced we think we are, as in life, there is always something to learn. The ocean has a knack for humbling the most experienced surfer or revealing a fresh way to connect with its energy. When I first started surfing, I was fortunate to get instruction from an accomplished big wave surfer from the North Shore of Oahu. I could not understand why he would want to spend time with a novice when he was readily accepted at the most competitive and technically difficult breaks on the North Shore. When I finally asked him, his answer was simple: He said that after a lifetime of surfing, he found he could reconnect with his original joy simply by working with newbies; he understood how the expert learns from the beginner. For me at the time, just making a wave was cause for celebration. The surf learning curve can be quite steep. I learned early on that the only way to make sense of the experience was to celebrate every progression and revere every new insight, no matter how small. In other aspects of life we rarely allow ourselves such indulgences. Experts, if they take the time, learn that hanging out with beginners can be quite a party. After every session we return to the shore, exhausted and breathless, eager to carry on the tradition of regaling our companions with tall tales about the huge waves we rode. It was in those moments, when my body was physically spent and my mind buzzing with a new kind of exhilaration, that I began to perceive myself differently; I bonded with my heart and soul in a new way. I had a new identity and I relished getting to know me, the surfer.

Just like our most challenging relationships teach us about ourselves, our relationship with surfing and the ocean holds up a mirror and points it directly back at us. The ocean is mysterious, powerful, and exquisitely deadly. It is the source of life on our planet and reflects Earth’s movement through the heavens in its tides and currents. When we step from land into the liquid depths of the sea, we are stepping into a primal mystery. It is at once the dark night of the soul and an ecstatic expression of abundance and life itself. Dichotomies like this abound in surfing and trying to make sense of it in some linear, logical way is futile. Similarly, it is often impossible to make sense of the events that occur in our lives and in the world around us—we can fight it or we can simply accept what is. Gerry Lopez, aka “Mr. Pipeline” wrote in his book Surf is Where You Find It, “There needs to be a calmness that allows the surfer to be centered and aware of all that is happening around him without becoming unnerved. Although instinct isn’t the right word, something like it, along with a clear mind, work better than thinking because, at Pipe, there isn’t enough time for thought. A Zen-like mind that is empty of thoughts allows a stronger connection with the wave.” What Gerry is talking about is not sport and may not even be art, but he is talking about tuning in to the present moment and becoming conscious enough so that the surfer becomes the wave rather than experiencing himself apart from the wave.

So next time you are at the beach and you cross paths with someone who has just come out of the ocean, ask them why they love their sport. And if you encounter a certain brand of surfer and clumsily refer to what they do as a sport, they will set you straight and explain that any activity that moves us to raise our level of awareness in perfect alignment with the present moment, allowing us to glimpse that Divine oneness, is on a level apart from mere sport. Perceiving surfing through this profound lens is a gift. I embrace surfing as a metaphor for life, my life—and what a wonderful life it is.

Peace and surf.

Women on Waves Exhibit at the California Surf Museum

The Women on Waves exhibit on display at the California Surfing Museum is no small feat. (published on Surfline June 2, 2010- Note: The exhibit is now over) It traces the 300-year lineage from the surfing queens of Hawaiian myth and history to the newly-crowned women's surfing champions of the 21st Century.  

The exhibit is about how women's surfing has evolved from something that was taboo to the current, ultra-high-performance level as practiced by gals such as Steph Gilmore, Keala Kennelly, Maya Gabeira and Layne Beachley.  

Three of the 40+ panels on display at Women on Waves show one of Lisa Andersen's boards next to an original pair of Roxy boardshorts - the trunks that launched an industry. Next to that is a tribute to Blue Crush featuring Sanoe Lake's board. And off in the distance, Sarah Gerhardt's Mavericks special.

There was a time when most women took to the waves only in the company of a gentleman, because boards were heavy and taboos were strict about what women could expose when they went into the water. 

In 1914, Isabel Letham defied her father when she went tandem surfing with Duke Kahanamoku, and defied Victorian culture when she wore a risqué "Canadian" swim costume which was made for performance more than prudence. 

Eighty years later, Lisa Andersen didn't like how her behind looked in a bikini -- and also didn't like worrying about her two-piece suit coming off in contests -- so she innovated a pair of performance women's surf trunks that revolutionized the surf industry. 

In between, Women on Waves shows how women's surfing and women's beach fashion paralleled each other, as women of the 20th Century crossed a line in the sand and took to the waves, and wanted to wear bathing-suits that went against the grain of the times -- and in so doing had a major influence on changing what women wore in the ocean.

Women's-performance influenced fashion and vice versa, and Women on Waves also details the ascent of women's surfing from a time when women could barely lift the heavy hardwood boards of the early 20th Century -- to now, when women surfers are going bigger, faster and deeper on modern equipment.

And that modern equipment was also influenced by women surfers such as Darrilyn Zanuck, whose need for a shorter, lighter hardwood surfboard in the late 1940s inspired Joe Quigg to make "The Darrylin Board" which is considered by many to be the Eve of the modern shortboard.

Women on Waves was put together by Jim Kempton, Julie Cox, Jane Schmauss and Tara Torburn at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside, with help from Ben Marcus and many of the women and shapers featured in the exhibit. The exhibit consists of more than 40 panels -- from ancient Hawaii to Steph Gilmore -- with photos and three dimensional displays of famous surfboards, swimwear and other icons and jetsam from women's surfing history.

The exhibit includes more than 35 surfboards, from the kind of alaia ridden by Princess Ka'iulani, to the board Bethany Hamilton was paddling when she was attacked by a shark on the island of Kauai.

Shelley Merrick

The surfing world lost a surf legend on January 8th, 2015.  Shelley Merrick was a mother, grandmother and dedicated surfer late into her 60s when she passed away from a stroke.  Shelley was one of the early Board Members of the Surfrider Foundation, she lobbied for a women's division in the Malibu Surfing Association Classic, and many people admired her grace on the water and land.  I looked up to her lifelong dedication to surfing.  She would surf Leo Carrillo in the morning and then get dressed in her business attire and head in to work as the Executive Director of the Strawberry Festival in Oxnard.  When I was in high school, Shelley taught me about artificial reefs and helped me write my senior thesis on the topic.   Since then, she gave me career and life advice and we kept in touch via email.  We got to see each other in 2010 at the "Girl in the Curl" women's surf conference at Pepperdine University.  I'm so lucky to have known her.   "Hang Ten and Call me in the Morning", is a great article about Shelley's surfing life published August 27, 2008.

                                                                                                       Shelley Merrick surfing Latigo in 1962. Photo from Merrick Family Collection.

                                                                                                       Shelley Merrick surfing Latigo in 1962. Photo from Merrick Family Collection.

Bolinas Group Surf Session

On January 4th, 2015, we kicked off the new year with a few surf students during a group lesson in Bolinas.  Bolinas is a great beginner-intermediate spot north of SF about an hour's drive.  It was sunny, 1-2', with mushy waves, and for the first 45 minutes we were the only ones in the water! Everyone caught a couple of waves, worked on wave timing, paddling, paddling and more paddling. We enjoyed the company and beautiful scenery of the area.  So much fun! Click here for more about group lessons.