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🏄🏻♀️ Why the heck do I surf??
Letter 161: a surfing rant, my monthly reflection & my first reggae concert
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Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from a beautiful sunset in Honolulu, Hawaii!
Cutting the fluffy baloney, I’ve felt a rutt coming on in my writing where I feel like I put these letters off each week. It’s felt like a chore that “I have to do” rather than something I “want to do”. As an attempt to change that, I’ve granted myself permission to experiment and spice things up. I want to make my writing reflect more of my silly self to make it more fun.
My hope is that by doing this I can turn the pressure I put on myself down from a high to a mere simmer. Expecting to have zero pressure on myself seems impossible like something as absurd as throwing the oven out of your kitchen.
With that said, I’m losing faith in why it is exactly I write these letters. I invite you to take 30 seconds to respond to this email with any thoughts on what you enjoy about reading these. It means a lot— thank you.
Now, let’s dive into letter 161 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓Question to think about
Why the heck do I surf?
(I try to be a positive person usually but prepare yourself for a rant.)
This morning I woke up feeling bruised and beaten.
I hit rock bottom in my surfing career yesterday. I suck at surfing. And no, I am not just feeling like a sad sack. This is my second time back surfing since a month ago in Uluwatu, Bali, and after nearly two years into this sport, whatever progress I made not only stagnated but went backward.
I fell on my face a record-breaking number of times that I lost track. I dizzily paddled into shore yesterday after being scared I got concussed from the power of wave after wave hitting my head. I’m not even sure if that is possible but that’s what my fear was telling me. I’m sick of so many things about this sport!
Here are twelve thoughts or feelings that people forget to tell you about in the glamorous surf movies:
That fact that surfing is 95% paddling
Finally catching a wave and then immediately slipping off of your board trying to popup and then blaming it on the mineral reef-safe slippery sunscreen or the person in your way
Every single wave and set of waves is different making it near impossible to read the wave patterns
Stalking the good surfer who is consistently catching and paddling to their placement only for the waves to change and you are yet again in the wrong place
The mind game of wanting to go for it but then missing it. Surfing makes you feel like you have MASSIVE commitment issues. The waves are good enough for everyone else to surf… but me.
The popup. It feels impossible lately with the amount of multitasking needed of balancing on a moving tippy object on the water. I refuse to relearn my old crutch of lunging and using my knee to get up.
Finally catching a wave and then in paranoia swerving around people as obstacles not knowing how to balance while looking at so many places and thinking, “Where do I dismount?” What if there’s coral with a black pokey sea urchin there waiting to jab me?!
Having saltwater and boogers ooze out of your nose, then gulping down even more salt water and thinking “Gosh dangit I am so thirsty!!”
Not drowning after being pounded in whitewash but then panicking, “Did I just lose my bottoms??” *touches hip* Oh phew, thankfully they’re still there.
“Why am I doing this again??” My arms are about a fall off and I’ve been disproportionately in a cow position and my back needs to do a cat position ASAP.
“How the heck did I get this far over here?!!” Ugh, the wind is making me drift a lot. Now I have to go paddle some more. Yippee. As I said in #1, this sport should be called “paddling” not “surfing”.
People ask after “How many waves did you catch rides on?”… what if that number is zero. Congratulations! Now, you are even more defeated than you were before.
I was tempted to impulsively put an end to all of it by pulling a Bethany Hamilton and giving my board away at the beach to some kids, not that my foamy Jerry Lopez board has any more value than $100. (Am I really comparing myself to someone who used to have surfing as their A1 top priority even with one arm??)
Sure the conditions at White Plains yesterday were atrocious with wind and whitecaps and no channel to smoothly paddle out but I still went anyways. Since surfing has always been a hobby that I started since moving out to Hawaii then I ask myself, “If it’s not fun then why am I doing it?”
I used to tell myself it’s beautiful to be at the lineup with friends in the sea but it’s also exhausting paddling out there. I’m going to keep showing up, but I’m cutting myself slack.
Life is already hard enough. Hobbies are meant to be satisfying and make us feel better about ourselves. Why does the bar need to be set so high?!
Instead of asking how many waves I caught, I’m going to prompt asking whether I had fun. Then maybe (just maybe) I’ll end up surfing with a smile like I did here in Maui in August 2021 and find enjoyment in surfing again.
As an aside, I’m grateful that I was with friends that made me fun-fetti pancakes frosted with chocolate and sprinkles. That helped cheer my mood up after the rock-bottom surf session I had.
🔍Word to define
Surfing: a surface water sport in which an individual uses a board to ride on the forward section, or face, of a moving wave of water, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore.
Ancient cultures often surfed on their belly and knees, while the modern-day definition of surfing most often refers to a surfer riding a wave standing on a surfboard; this is also referred to as stand-up surfing.
Originated in the region we now call Polynesia but was the most advanced and documented in Hawaii. Originally called wave sliding, this sport was more than just casual fun for both genders. It had a lot of societal and spiritual meaning to the people, making it vastly important to their culture.
The native peoples of the Pacific surfed waves on alaia: a thin, round-nosed, square-tailed surfboard ridden in pre-20th century Hawaii primarily made with indigenous koa wood. The alaia's roots span back a thousand years.
“Lala” is the Hawaiian word describing the action of riding an alaia surfboard. Lala is a word found in the Hawaiian dictionary meaning ‘the controlled slide in the curl when surfing on a board.' Princess Kaʻiulani's used to surf alaia board measuring 7ft 4in long in the 1880s. Popular belief: she may have been the first female surfer in the British Isles.
The first documented surfer was Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer from Hawaii who popularized the sport in the 1920s after traveling around the world demonstrating his surfing skills. He is often referred to as "the father of modern surfing".
📜🖋 Poetry Corner
Written by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1889 called "Ka'iulani":
Forth from her land to mine she goes,
The island maid, the island rose,
Light of heart and bright of face,
The daughter of a double race ...
But our Scots islands far away
Shall glitter with unwonted day,
And cast for once their tempest by
To smile in Kaiulani's eye.
🧩 Snapshots of my monthly reflection
Before I go full speed into summer I did some reflecting on May:
Here are some intentions I have for June :)
🌟Quote to inspire
"I love riding, driving, swimming, dancing and cycling. Really, I'm sure I was a seal in another world because I am so fond of the water… My mother taught me to swim almost before I knew how to walk." — Princess Ka’iulani
📸 Photos of the Week
I went to my first concert at the Waikiki Shell over the weekend. It was a 6 minute stroll from my flat so I’ve been destined to make it there eventually. The group was called Stick Figure, which I must confess I never listened to before that day, but I definitely will now. They reminded me of a reggae version of Twenty-One Pilots.
I went with two of my closest friends and while walking across the grassy field of Kapi’olani Park and a cute little boy asked, “Are you sisters or friends?”. I said we were both and that made my evening before it even began.
The concert was simply sensational. Each sense was smiling. My eyes looking at the warm sunset. My ears felt like they were in a spaceship taking off. My hands touching the hands of dear friends while dancing. My mouth chewing the pearls of boba tea (a new obsession). My nose smelling whiffs of cologne or flowers or ganja as concertgoers walked by. As I said, simply sensational.
I wonder where the wind it blows
The reason why it blows so cold
Spent half a lifetime slowing down
But growing up is getting old
I'd rather feel at home than be alone tonight
Tofor inspiring my piece on surfing after venting to her about my hot mess of a life
I appreciate you reading this!
Never stop learning 😁
PS - in case you forgot mentioned up top, I’d love your responses to anything that keeps you coming back to read these letters
PPS - if you missed last week’s letter. I wrote about Little Mermaid and Belonging.
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