Monday, August 04, 2008

Surfing in a Marine Corps base

One of our relatives working for the US government booked us into some beach houses in a military base of the Marine Corps in California last week.

Our house looked out on to the beach. We could actually watch the waves pounding the beach and the surfers riding the waves - through our windows. After watching and admiring them for sometime, I screwed up my courage to join them.

It was a scary but exhilarating experience. The waves in the bay were relatively small, about 3 to 4 feet high, I think. I tried to go against them, along with them, above them, through them, ... From the air in an airplane, the waves were invisible before they broke. Even after breaking, they were no more than little lines in the water. From the shore, they looked impressive, but not particularly frightening. However, when actually in the water in front of them - even just the smaller versions at 4 feet high - their power was just overwhelming. At one point, the current carried me more than a hundred meters from where I was, before I even realized it. Faced with such power, a human being is totally helpless.

Someone lent me a baby surfboard, about 3 feet long. After a while, I was able to ride over some of the waves before they broke (see photo). Sometimes I caught them just before they broke, turned, and was carried along a great distance towards the shore. It was a exhilarating experience. Faced with such power of nature, man’s only option is to find some way to go along with it. It is futile to fight it. It also reminded me of 道德經: 生而弗有,為而弗恃 ,功成而不居 。夫唯弗居,是以不去 。

I noticed that strong receding waves would cause the smooth stones on the beach to roll, making a sound like heaving rain pelting a tin roof. At night, after taking a shower, I laid in the couch in front of the windows listening to the rhythmic pounding of the waves, falling asleep in their soothing sound.


cane said...

Stephen, is that you in the last photo? It must be a lot of fun!

StephenC said...

Yeah, that was me. It sure was very exciting. Many times I went under the water and lost all sense of direction after being hit by the waves. Then I came back up and found that I survived. That was a great feeling. Made me want to try again.

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