Lineup Clifford

Surfing is so meditative: the rhythmic bobbing, wildlife and solitude, the complete immersion in saltwater. Photo: Clifford

The Inertia

It’s been four years since my right testicle was removed due to the surprise guest appearance of a seven centimeter malignant tumor. Fortunately I’m still alive and my remaining three testicles are functioning beautifully. (I told that joke to my kids several years ago and they believed it. I had to reveal the truth after they told their friends: My dad has three balls).

The whole experience was bizarre. At some point, everyone has that moment when their own mortality goes from abstraction to reality: a two-wave hold down, cancer diagnosis, car accident, or something else. It could happen when you’re five years old or fifty. But however it arrives, it’s that surreal moment when you realize: Wow, I really will die someday. It’s not just a theory! You can’t drink enough carrot juice. You can’t stock enough provisions in your bomb shelter.

Though I had to deal with surgery, fondling, and too much time in the MRI tube with its coffin-like ambiance and infernal racket, the experience was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Seriously. It forced me to dig deep and question everything about meaning and purpose, stuff that’s easy to ignore when mortality is for other people.

The deepest insights came in the ocean, just floating in the water and staring at the horizon. Surfing is so meditative: the rhythmic bobbing, wildlife and solitude, the complete immersion in saltwater. And when the energy comes, you ride it.


That pretty much sums up our entire existence: floating in the source until a peak bubbles up, an ephemeral fractal. We catch it, riding through smooth or choppy sections, the occasional epic barrel or stinkbug fail. Then we exit and return to the source, waiting for the next one. We do it again and again, getting better, wiser, more stoked each time. Without the fails we couldn’t appreciate the barrels. If it was easy and predictable, there would be no point. And it’s all epic in its own way.
Except for the MRI tube. That thing sucks.


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