Do you claim a wave? Any and all waves? Are you so incredibly “stoke-ed” that you fling your arms to the heavens on the smallest and weakest of waves? Do you hoot and holler and scream off the mountain top? Or, alternatively, are you too cool for that? Is surfing so serious to you that you cannot, under any circumstances, let anyone around you know that you are having fun? Are you stoic and silent, staring out at the horizon as though waiting for death instead of a little hump of moving water that you will, in your skimpy little outfit or skin-tight neoprene suit, dance upon like a little ballerina? Do you scowl and frown at those around you, especially the ones who dare talk to each other in light-hearted tones? Do you, even when you’ve just come flying out after the spit of a very large barrel, will your arms to remain pinned to your sides, your mouth shut, your brow furrowed, as if what you just experienced wasn’t the greatest possible thing that a human can experience, save for maybe sex or a perfectly cooked lasagne?
Such is the dilemma we face as people who surf on top of waves for no other purpose than having fun. We suffer through an internal debate on whether it’s okay to celebrate joyously or mute our happiness. But muting our own happiness is the last thing we should do.
Surfing’s weird. Depending on where you live, you may well be caught up in the so-called “lifestyle,” where the only thing you identify as is as a “surfer.” Surfers are cool. Laid back. Throwing caution to the wind. “Have you surfed the Banzai Pipeline?” your non-surfing colleagues at work ask you when they find out you’re a surfer. “Have you surfed Nazaré?” You sigh at them, a smirk on your face as if to say, “of course, non-surfer. But you just wouldn’t understand.” But you haven’t surfed Pipeline or Nazaré. You’ve imagined yourself, though. And did you claim those imaginary waves? Or did you pin those arms to your sides?
I hope you claimed them. I hope you claim any wave you feel the slightest bit of excitement for. Maybe not screaming at the top of your lungs type of claim, but an acknowledgment, at least, that you did something fun and an acknowledgment that you enjoy fun. Why NOT celebrate something fun, even if your wave was less than stellar? Be aware, however, that people will judge you, because surfers can be judgmental, just like they can be in every other facet in life. Hell, I’ve judged claimers. I’ve judged a surfer who might not be all that great for claiming a shit wave, but I feel guilty immediately. Their fun is not making my fun any less fun, after all, and happy people should make other people happy. So if you feel it, let it out. Surfing is fun, and we should celebrate that fun. Haters going to hate, but they’re the ones having less fun.