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Being stoked is contingent on a clean ocean.

A surf junkie and proud of it. Photo: Shutterstock.com


The Inertia

To me, the thrill of surfing and the distinct feeling of being stoked can most adequately be described as an addiction. I first recognized my obsession when confronted by a friend after stating that I thought neoprene would make a good scent for perfume. I still think it would. I reluctantly confess that my addiction has fostered a new disorder that has me compulsively checking the Surfline app every half hour as though Mother Nature will answer my plea and change the report from “poor” to “good”.

My addiction is difficult to conceal since my body has developed signs that are simply too obvious to hide. Thanks to the intoxicating combination of salt and sun, my naturally black hair has turned to a golden-brown-blonde that has got everyone asking me, “Did you dye your hair?” The odd tan lines from my wetsuit make it hard to wear a short skirt and not get asked the embarrassing question, “Why are your ankles darker than your legs?” Then, there is the sand residue that clings to my ankles and arms that make it even harder to deny where I’ve been.

Even if I am able to cover the physical signs on my body, it only takes a few minutes to notice how deep my habit runs with a quick tour of my home. The sundry collection of surfboards that invades my patio and living room are obvious clues to where my money goes. Hanging in my bathroom you will find an array of stringy, colorful bikini tops that have only been worn once – but never to be worn again because they all fail to stay on while surfing. Wardrobe malfunctions, odd smells, salt, and the euphoric feeling of stoke I get when I conquer a wave is what I live for. At least I am not one of the addicts in denial, right?

As my addiction grows, so does my consciousness of the undeniable fact that surfers and non-surfers alike have a significant impact on my precious surf. Everything from cigarette butts and plastic bags to sewage and toxic-laden-water can be credited to the handy work of humans. These damaging effects have taken shape over centuries and their ramifications have exacerbated exponentially especially in the past several decades.

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Just pick up one piece every time you surf. It's so easy!

Just pick up one piece every time you surf. It’s so easy! Photo: Shaahina Ali

However, as surfers, it is evident that these reckless acts of humanity can impede our daily fix of stoke if something is not done quickly and effectively. Personally, I can’t just sit back and accept the destruction of my beloved ocean and ride the metaphoric wave of “tolerance.” If you are a surf junkie like me, then you should be willing to do anything to sustain your fix of stoke. And what does a junkie do when they need to sustain their fix? They hustle. A surfer’s hustle may be a bit different than one would assume when thinking of a drug junkie hustling. The surfer’s hustle begins with accepting responsibility as protectors of the sea. If surfers don’t accept responsibility, who else will?

Hustling includes awareness, action, and encouragement. Surfers should become aware of the activities that cause the issues that jeopardize our next fix and how we can foster change. A simple start can be done by supporting local activist groups who are dedicated to protecting preserving our beaches and waves like the Surfrider Foundation, Save the Waves Coalition, and Sustainable Surf. The hustle, however, can be as simple as throwing away trash you see while exiting the water. But the underlying obligation as surfers is accepting the responsibility as caretakers of the sea. If every surfer shares in the hustle, our fix will never be in jeopardy of being a closeout.

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