Photo: Unsplash / Jakob Owens

The Inertia

We all cross plenty of these people every day: the “outsiders” who don’t surf. You’re really not sure what they do in life. What’s their direction in life? What are their ambitions? What are their daily habits? You find yourself constantly questioning their every move because…well it’s not like they’re surfing.

To a surfer, the ocean and waves can be a guiding light. Sometimes it can feel like it gives meaning to everything in life itself. And when a surfer meets a non-surfer, he or she may as well have come across a chicken running around with its head cut off.

To the seasoned creature of the sea, these humans may seem like aliens. But as an amateur biologist, psychologist, and philosopher, I have come to the hypothesis that these creatures indeed come from the scientific classification of “human.” The truth is, you have more in common with the non-surfer than you might think. Now, don’t be alarmed — you can actually have a normal conversation with this fellow earthling.

If you’re a seaborne, salt-water craving, beach bum, you probably have routine conversations with 100% of the people you meet. These convos may regularly consist with icebreakers like:


“Hey, man! Check the surf?” 

“How’s it looking?”

“But the report says it’s overhead!”

“What’s the tide doing?”

“You surf yet?”

While this may seem routine and even natural, you actually never have anything to talk about. The surf’s always either up or down, affecting your mood and everything you talk about. But every once in awhile, you’ll come across these aliens who don’t give two shits about the surf. In this case, you need to follow these five steps to surviving such interactions:

Step 1: Stay calm
Your first tendency may be to bolt. It’s a natural survival instinct. You’ll assume you have nothing in common with this person, so at first, the conversation may make you feel like you’re getting held under by a set at Mavericks. Just stay calm like you’re paddling out on a big day. You can survive this.

Step 2: Patience and empathy
It may feel like years before you find something to talk about. Don’t worry, you’re just setting the stage to bring up surfing. In the meantime, pity this poor creature for having grown up tens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of miles from the beach.

Step 3: Find some common ground
By “common ground” I mean find something they do that you can relate back to surfing. Do they like to climb mountains? That’s your time to find a metaphorical parallel to that huge double overhead day you had in Indo. Are they an engineer? Let’s talk about how challenging it must have been for Kelly to build that perfect wave.

Step 4: Introduce surfing
This is where you’re putting Step 3 into action. When you’ve found your opportunity, don’t hesitate. Paddle for it like it’s the biggest wave of the day and you know 100% you’re going to get completely shacked and be in the best mood after.

Step 5: Get out of there 
So you got your wave of conversation and it went over well. You might be thinking “Ok, maybe one more, we can continue chatting.”

Don’t do it. This is like avoiding “last wave” syndrome at the end of a session. You had your chance and you took it. Now cut your losses and get the fuck out.

The bottom line is life’s too short to talk (and sometimes even think) about things not related to surfing.

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