Saturday, September 2, 2017

This Week In Not Surfing

1. Approaching is 43, a resolutely midlife sort of number, I have largely lived my life without achieving any goals thanks mostly to having not set any in the first place. I’ve certainly been goaded into enunciating a goal here or there at some point if only to satisfy someone else’s expectations. Finding a marital partner for instance, not to mention keeping one interested over a length of time, can rely pretty heavily on (an even specious) quotation of attractive, articulated goals. Beyond that, it seems the act of goal setting has achieved a sort of moral authority these days. And not just the garden variety cottage industry, it is core to the very cultural fabric of the nation. So in keeping with my citizenship, when pressed by the immigration officer, I will easily make the case that I’ve achieved the one gigantic goal I might have unspokenly set: the one of achieving something without having meant to do so in the first place.

2. Listening to the radio today I learn that, all things being the same, most people get happier as they get older. It has something to do with the lesser burden of the future combined with perspective of all that stuff that’s gone before. It has been studied by science and nearly proven so the radio says. In light of this it occurs to me that those who do not become more content as time winds on (all things being the same) are exhibiting signs of mental illness. The gently compressing accordion that is our experience must lead us to some conclusion.

3. “Do you know what maybe means? It means maybe not.”

4. That whole canard about living in the moment can really lead to a lot of future heartache as nostalgia triangulates the most merciless sneak attacks.

5. We surf on the outer beach of Fire Island in the morning. We did the same thing last week. It takes a special County pass and a four wheel drive car. It doesn’t take anything else, save the time and freedom to do so. And the outsized patience needed in letting air out of tires and filling them up again. The waves are very small. But that doesn’t mean a thing.

6. I am colder now. Colder as I am older, the cobblestones along the pathways turned over and replaced haphazardly, the banks of the rivers overgrown and encroaching. I sit on my board with the gentle offshores making the tiny, shifty waves a little better and I shiver.

7. And when I find myself alone for long enough, memory pounces. I put it down to the suddenly quiet void of the solitary scrambling to fill itself anyway it can. And the memories obligingly flood in; those viscera of old hankerings. After family life, work life, life life, pressing, pushing, cramming the memories into corners where they wait, skulking, colluding, taking their chances with surprising subtlety.

8. Name your favorite smell, the questionnaire demands. The plopping undersides of docks. Stale beer seeping out of plastic bags. Mountain pine, approaching, rising out of high desert. The inner ears of dogs. Distant fried chicken. Lime on fire-licked meat. Gasoline. Name your favorite sounds. Morning roosters. My children’s voices. That sound that waves make on small pebbles. Name your least favorite household utensil. Vacuum cleaners.

9. And “live in the moment,” what’s that supposed to mean? Were I to live in this moment’s moment, well, I’d stay in bed, thanks. But there are fun tropical storm waves and I am supposed to be a surfer. It is supposed to be the sort of day I’ve been looking forward to even if I forgot my spring suit in town and all I have are my trunks and this tank top thing and it’s unseasonably cold. And already dark earlier. And this bed is so comfortable. So what moment am I supposed to live in again? Because there was this moment that I realized all I wanted to do with my free time was surf. And then there was the moment I realized there were other things in life that would be interesting pastimes. Like getting married and moving to a culturally vibrant but surf-challenged city and having kids and trying to be good at some career. And then there’s those moments while sitting at my desk watching other people’s instagram feeds explode with missed sessions (mine) and swearing I’d never pass up the chance again. So which moment?

10. Today's waves are fun and clean and head high (if you’re a little taller than me) but seem a little more “critical” thanks to the swell angle. Yesterday's waves were messy and head high (if you're my height) and a joyful ardor to paddle through. I’m content I didn’t live in either of the moments preceding.

11. There are many ways to describe a day of surfing. Among the vocabulary I’ve heard bandied about to perform the task I cannot remember hearing one of the more affecting ones: intimate.

12. Houston. One third of Bangladesh. My brain has been slow to react.

13. And finally, when it feels like someone doesn’t believe in you, remember it is not you they don’t believe in.


Rebecca Olive said...

Vacuums are a noisy pest, a scourge, a hindrance and an ever-present demand. I, too, do not like them.

Anonymous said...

i like these words

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