Waves: sometimes they're our best company | Photo: Shutterstock

It's hard to find a secluded surf break these days. But when it seems impossible to be alone and surf with your thoughts, magic happens.

Life gets more complicated when you get older, doesn't it?

At least, it feels like it does. The responsibilities stack up, the problems accumulate, and the unfinished personal and professional issues pile up.

Sometimes, we're so overwhelmed by what life is about that we forget how much surfing can help us heal or put things into perspective.

Most of us need water to find our balance and headspace.

It can be the ocean or even a swimming pool. All we need is a liquid basin - smaller or larger - to immerse ourselves and make our worries lighter.

It's great to surf with friends. I've been doing it for nearly 35 years, and I'll never get tired of it.

The process before and after also matters.

There's the schedule, a meeting point, the travel itself, the search for the right spot or peak, and the excitement of putting on a wetsuit while a perfect, blue six-footer peels gently across a desert beach break.

When the session is over, the only questions and dilemmas are where to have lunch or dinner or find the best cold beer nearby.

A day surfing with your best friends is always a day we will remember when we get older.

But some people also have a different relationship with the indescribable act of gliding across saltwater and waves.

It's the darker and most intimate corner of our soul commanding; it's an inner somber voice telling us to shut down from the world for a bit.

In a time when we spend most of our awake hours with our necks bent down and eyes glued on screens, it's OK not to be available for (digital and social) interactions.

Beach: the ultimate frontier between land and sea | Photo: Goldberg/Creative Commons

Alone With Every Dune

One of these weekend days, the ocean was flat at my local surf breaks.

The Windguru forecast showed 0.4 meters of swell, which is basically a "forget surfing" message for most people.

Nevertheless, my stubbornness made me drive to a place where I thought I could get a coastline more exposed to swell energy.

When I parked my car, I looked left and right at the closest peaks, and there was nothing. There's barely a one-foot ripple.

I played the patient game with Mother Nature.

I needed to paddle out and was prepared to be grateful for anything that could transport my surfboard and 65-kilogram body.

That's when I focused my attention on the dune-only stretch of coastline where only birds and sand rule.

"There's something moving over there..." I muttered to myself.

It was a warm day with sunny blue skies. Nearly windless. The perfect conditions for a lone, introspective search for the rare wave.

The walk to the surf mirage was long. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The 20-minute hike was time enough to run through the inner demons of a privileged European adult.

But they are demons, too, even if they are on your personal drama scale.

I saw nobody. I was as alone as I wanted to be. And lonely, yes - that too.

As I walked south and got closer to the whitewater lines I had spotted from a long distance, I felt that paddling out would be almost ridiculous.

It was small. But small and beautiful. And peeling quite nicely from left to right.

"I could do something with this," I told my positive self.

Above, only sky. Around only sand and ocean. Inside, only questions and anguish.

"It's life being life," you could say.

It is, indeed. And so I paddled out, read the ocean, and fine-tuned my positioning.

Surf: paddling out all by yourself can be fulfilling | Photo: Shutterstock

Água Quente

The lineup's water was particularly warm compared to the water in a 10-yard radius. So, I called this place "Água Quente" ("Hot Water").

I don't know if it has ever been surfed. But my loneliness felt comfortable here. It felt under control and part of life's mountains and valleys.

It's funny. The metaphors for what life is are endless, and you can find them hidden or in plain sight every day, whether you're a surfer or someone who has not been blessed and cursed by this passion.

Some of my most helpful thoughts and reflections arise while I'm surfing, particularly when I'm all by myself in the water, waiting for perfect waves that may or may not arrive.

It has an effect similar to clearing or organizing your storage room.

Wave-riding rearranges our minds and refreshes life's purposes.

Água Quente made me feel good. I knew I was one of the few lucky ones surfing in my country at that given moment.

I caught several waves. They were small, but aren't small waves harder to surf? And isn't it supposed to be all about having fun?

When I put an end to my solitary session, I had to walk back to the small village where I had left the car.

This time, with the sun on my back, the return route felt lighter and more hopeful than the initial surf exploration path.

I needed this. Surfing alone has pros and cons, but this time, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.

Listening to ourselves in silence is hard, painful, and often despairing.

It requires courage to let ourselves know what exactly is going on with our lives and what we can do to make it slightly better.

Wellness is a rare asset these days.

It's a valuable weapon against the troubled times and the hardships that can easily settle within us without asking permission.

Surf with your friends. And, from time to time, go for a surf with yourself. Trust me - it changes lives.


Words by Luís MP | Founder of SurferToday.com

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