Outdoor Junkie

Photo: Unsplash

The Inertia

Life gives us fleeting moments in time to enjoy. They’re usually sandwiched between responsibilities like work, family, and personal obligations, leaving very few of us with open-ended schedules where we can disappear for hours, or days, without consequence. It’s frustrating how these moments of joy can be so easily interrupted. And this is especially true for surfing.

The other day, thanks to few things going sideways, I showed up later than planned to surf, missing the optimal window for my local beach. The conditions had turned for the worse about 30 minutes before I arrived. I uttered a few expletives but still paddled out since I am of the belief that it’s always better to get wet than not.

It was an okay session but not a great one. On my drive back to work I pondered all the reasons one can miss a window of opportunity for good surf as I just had. There are a range of culprits, I decided, like getting stuck in traffic or forgetting a wetsuit. But then I realized there is something more devious at play. I think you need to look no further than that bulge in your pocket; that devilishly-stylish and addictive thing attached to your car’s USB port. Yes, your mobile phone.

This cool device keeps me connected to friends and family, it allows me to take all kinds of crazy pictures, post all kinds of self-promoting crap, and get surf reports all while enabling  me to “work” in places that I am sure my boss wouldn’t be thrilled about. And it’s awesome. But it also drives me crazy with the pain it’s caused with interruptions that ended in missed or blown surf sessions — those small windows of time closing in on me just like this day. According to a 2018 report by eMarketer, American adults were expected to spend three hours and 35 minutes on their mobile phone each day and that number was projected to increase by 11 minutes this year. Any fraction of that time can account for the 30-minute window that cost me a decent surf session the other day. It bothers me to the point where I think about throwing my phone in the water. But if I did that, well, how would I post that sesh to Insta or text my friend to rub in what he missed?

Anyone who surfs knows how highly dependent waves are on a wide range of factors. You can easily miss a good session by a slim margin of time because one or more of these factors changes and I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard that dreaded “You should have been here an hour ago.” I believe you can hear those words and actually see the window of time passing by as you toiled with all sorts of interruptions during that hour.

The bottom line is I need this damn device. I need it in spite of the interruptions and pain it has caused. I need it for work and I need it in my personal life. Like many of us, I have a family and family responsibilities. My wife doesn’t complain much about my surfing and so in order to make sure things stay that way, I always answer when that damn phone rings. So I guess I will keep dealing with interruptions from that bulge in my pants until I find a better solution. Or until I win the lottery and can just ignore everything.


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