surf session #4: Surfing, Find the Time or Don’t

Weeks have passed since this trek up to Crescent City. I’m surfing so little these days that I forget it’s something I do. I’ve stopped checking the buoys in the morning, have no idea if the tide’s flooding the bay or draining it until I drive into town – and then, for a moment, I remember, I’m supposed to know these things.

Way back in December, 2010, my friend Mike sent me a link to a blog post, “Writing, Find the Time or Don’t.” This is true for everything, he said. I’ve return to that post so often – in all my years of reading about writing, about motivation in general, no one has ever laid out prioritizing in such a straightforward, no-bullshit way as John Scalzi did right there:

“…Well, look. Either you want to write or you don’t, and thinking that you want to write really doesn’t mean anything. There are lots of things I think I’d like to do, and yet if I don’t actually make the time and effort to do them, they don’t get done. This is why I don’t have an acting career, or am a musician — because as much as I’d like those, I somehow stubbornly don’t actually do the things I need to do in order to achieve them. So I guess in really fundamental way I don’t want them, otherwise I’d make the time. C’est la vie….

So: Do you want to write or don’t you? If your answer is ‘yes, but,’ then here’s a small editing tip: what you’re doing is using six letters and two words to say ‘no.’ And that’s fine. Just don’t kid yourself as to what ‘yes, but’ means.”

I should start every day re-reading that. People find the time to do what they care about doing. Yes, some of us are slammed with must-dos and pretending otherwise is unfair. But if, at the end of the day, I’ve spent a cumulative hour watching YouTube videos and Facebooking and otherwise fucking off, then there’s some time in which I didn’t do what I love. (I do not hate Facebook, by the way, but it’s an easy place to lose a lot of time, especially if you’re easily distracted. Wow, what’s that? Oh! Shiny!)

Back to surf session #4.

“It should be good at G–’s tomorrow!” my friend C said. I’d run into her at Praxis (at least I’m staying in shape to surf) as I was leaving. “Let’s go!” Her enthusiasm buoyed me. “Yes, let’s do it!” I responded. That simple exchange made all the difference. Instead of spending another morning sitting on my ass in front of the computer or standing in front of the dryer endlessly folding the endless laundry, I found myself chatting surf-stuff and girl-stuff while winding our way up through the rain-soaked coast, past the lagoons, over the Klamath, through the redwoods and dropping down above South Beach. The water ceased falling from the sky as we continued north. By the time we reached our spot, blue sky hinted at an appearance. While in the water, the clouds dissipated, sun glittering off a sea made glassy close to shore.

In the distance, macking, messy swells tumbled around the point and over the rocks, reforming as waist-high peeling rights – all longboard, all the time, but no less fun for it. Three kayakers monopolized the set waves, skimming into them with ease before they’d even begun to peak, but both C and I scored enough fun little waves to keep us in the water for two hours.

Winter surf, unless you’re gung-ho about flinging yourself into double-, triple-o heavy conditions, is about finding these nooks and crannies, places where an unruly ocean gets knocked down and cleaned up. I don’t mind it. I need to make it happen more. If it matters to me, I will.

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