Professional Big Wave Surfer

Editor’s Note: Earlier this month we sat down with Greg Long and talked all things health. The following is an excerpt from our conversation.

Greg Long on a wave that everyone on the planet wants to watch.

Greg Long, embracing the present moment. Photo: Ben Ginsberg

I think a lot about being present in the moment. Essentially, it means not getting too distracted with the peripheral things in your life that you don’t have any control over. I was first introduced to the idea in learning about the philosophy behind yoga; the overall practice of it, not just the physical side. That’s one of the deep principles of yoga. Beyond that, you can distill it into figuring out what you can control in life and what is out of your control.

When you’re able to enjoy the moment that you’re living and existing in, it opens up a whole new world of contentment. Surfing unquestionably brings that into my life, and I’ve heard other people say that, as well. When I paddle out, it’s about being immersed in the water. Everything just sort of dissipates, and in big wave surfing, that happens at a much more heightened level. There are much higher consequences to what you’re doing, so you have to be even more intently focused on that very moment than ever before. You can’t have drifting thoughts. It really is a special place. It’s this moment of zen-like being, and you can reach it.

For me, it comes through meditation, being in the water surfing, and a few other moments. None are more empowering, though, than when it is achieved while accomplishing a physical feat rather than just sitting still – even though that’s a difficult task in itself. It’s seeing a big wave, looking at all those intricate subtleties to it; considering what the wind is going to do as it comes up the face, and how I’m going to adjust my weight to counter that. It’s the micro bumps and the adjustments… the little things within that much larger thing.

I guess in the end, big wave surfing gives me a sense of accomplishment. I realize that I’m capable of truly amazing feats when I align everything–from all the knowledge that I’ve gained from my years of surfing, reading the ocean, all the physical training, all the mental elements–and they’re all channeled that into those very quick, very short moments.

Looking back on what I’ve been able to accomplish in the ocean–one of the most unpredictable environments in the world–when I step back on land, where you can pick things up and move them around and control them, and you don’t have to worry about whether you can breathe or not, and everything is there for you…it makes me feel like when I put my heart and soul into something, I can do just about anything in the world. I think everyone can feel that way.


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