Robert Parker in Bali

Robert Parker in Bali
blog contributor Robert Parker Surfing Bali

Monday, August 31, 2015

age - it sneaks up on you!

Swaylocks, the website where I serve as a moderator, is the foremost surfboard design and construction forum on the world wide web - but from time to time tangential subjects come up, like the challenges of surfing as we age.  Thought I'd share some of these recent (and not so recent) comments from the soldiers in the trenches, as I get the time and opportunity.

I'll start with Jack, who had an eye-opening session demonstrating the subtle and cumulative effects of the aging process.  Jack is not unusual in suddenly becoming aware that age had snuck in the back door while he was busy just dealing with life, and imposed some new and unwelcome limitations.

Jack writes, " I have always been in pretty good shape as I have been lucky to look and feel at least 10 years younger than I am,  a blessing for sure.  However, I have never been much into working out or running etc.  I just kind of kept in shape by staying active playing tennis, surfing, playing with my kids etc.  But now as I am about to turn 48 I am feeling my age for the first time.  I married a younger woman 3 years ago and we have a beautiful new baby.  So that, work, and lack of waves (I live in S. FL.) has kept me out of the water.  Living in S.FL waves are infrequent and really infrequent in the summer.  You really have to be on it when it's on.  As you know swell, wind, tide and light just does not go by your schedule.  So I have found it very hard to get out there.  These days I surf a couple of times in the summer and once every couple of weeks other times of year.   I used to be able to surf at least once a week or more during the better times of year.  Those times seem to be gone now.

"Anyway, yesterday after about 4 months or so of not surfing (kids, baby, life, timing of swell, etc.) I finally made it out.  Got up for a early morning sesh.  Tropical disturbance brought us some 3-5 foot waves but with heavy on shore and a bit of victory at see conditions.  Tough go after not surfing for a while but nothing was going to stop me.  So I stretched a bit and hit it.  10 minutes of paddling and duck diving and I hit the wall and didn't make it out.   What!   Embarrassing.  Not me not here.  The waves aren’t big just relentless.  Sat on the beach a few to catch my breath and take my licking.  Hit it again.  Almost out and a set comes in and cleans me up!  WTH.  I'm pathetic.  Back to the beach to lick my wounds and catch my breath and let my rubbery arms rest.  Here I go again, 3rd time’s a charm, finally made it out.  But now my arms are rubber and I'm out of breath.  Set's coming in and I just have to wait to rest.  I'm thinking, "I can't drown out here, I have family that needs me".  What!  So here comes a wave, I paddle kind of.  Get it start to stand up feel weak and just chunk it.  Jeeze what a kook (I used to be a pretty decent surfer)!  Got to get back out, ok did it, I’m out again and paddling against the wind and waves.  Paddle for a couple and don't get in.  Here comes one, I got it.  Tired up slow stand then hurl.  Now a set cleans me up and I just can't get back out. Can't risk it I'm done just too tired and don't want to be stupid.  Spent.  Slither back to the beach feeling defeated like a complete kook.  The wind is blowing, I can smell the sea, the salt on my skin.  I shower get dressed and drive home.

"I'm home and a bit disappointed.  I'm feeling my age, I’m scarred.  I'm a surfer, since I was 13 and first gave it a go I fell in love with the sport and it's just been my favorite activity and pastime, nothing else compares.  But now what?  Actually, I'm feeling pretty good, my spirits are up I feel a bit exhilarated.  Just going out being in the water, paddling, working, moving, being with the ocean again.  I need to change things.  I know that now.  Reading this blog, finding I am not alone.  Living in S. FL I can't surf as much as I like to be in shape so I have to be more fit.  Next time I can get out, things will be different, better, more confident, more fun.  Thanks for the stoke, I remember what it was like.

"I wonder if there are waves today?  Maybe I can hit it after work. :)" - Jack