I’ve been writing (e-mailing, still writing) back and forth with Archie Endo. He’s still in the hospital in Bangkok, Thailand after suffering a stroke a few months ago. While I’m checking the forecasts and any other data that will help me make a determination on when and where the best place to try to find waves over the Thanksgiving weekend, his latest ‘replay’ made me… well, kind of sad.
It’s not that he isn’t improving, he is, it’s that, if the Strait has become as crowded and as competitive as my reports seem to suggest, perhaps he may want to find somewhere else to surf when he returns.
“Why,” he asks, “should we (have to) follow or go against negative people? That seems like a waste of our lives… If surfers are treating others as enemies, the area is done.”
At least, maybe for Archie. I did write back to say that, perhaps, I, (almost) always ready to compete, always wanting a few more waves, overstate the crowd factor. For those who have been surfing anywhere for a long time, it’s always more crowded than it was.
Maybe it’s a phase; probably not; but Archie doesn’t want to be yelled at for taking an already-broken inside wave. Yet, he says, “I really appreciate now that I could enjoy so much of the empty, cold, friendly waters.”
Yeah, well; yes. As I said (wrote; okay), Archie’s email made me think; we can’t really justify resenting others seeking what we seek; and, for some, I swear, they’d rather surf in a crowd. No, that’s negative. Still true. When I recently saw a dad pushing two small kids, one on each side, out onto the reef; I have to think he and they were enjoying the experience. When I saw someone take off on a pretty mushy wave, and someone else, head down, not looking, paddling for the same wave down the line… well, I ruined a few waves at Swamis and Tamarack in my early days. But, again, I didn’t go out. I moved on. I didn’t give up; and neither will Archie.
I won’t let him. While I’m trying to adjust my inner Aloha, I have to recall the times I’ve gone surfing with Archie; and the first time I saw him surfing, alone on a brilliant winter weekday, kneepaddling into an outside wave, easing to his feet, riding the wave into the shorebreak, then taking a break. I joined him in the water. What’s kind of odd is that Archie wants to believe there is a certain nobleness in learning to surf well; a certain moral code that binds surfers. No, that’s not odd; I feel the same way; it’s that he and I have been friends despite my propensity to push my way to the peak of the lineup, go for the best waves.
Hey, I am trying to improve, to share. There is a community; fractured, competitive; each of us paddling out, searching for those moments of sheer joy.