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How It Feels Out in the Water

How It Feels Out in the Water

I wiped out onto shallow reef, stood up and got back on my board to paddle back to the lineup. I’ve clocked in three hours already and as I looked back to the shore, I saw the sky bleeding a beautiful shade of red.

I couldn’t focus on catching the waves that very moment as I sat transfixed on the sunset that was unfolding before me.

It was my first time to surf from sunrise to sundown that day. It was also my first time to try out this spot that has long been introduced to me as a gnarly break through the stories of those who have ridden its waves long before I did. That particular Sunday was the best surf weekend of my entire 22 years of existence (as of the moment of writing this).

Revert back to waking up that Sunday, it was already 5:30am and I was shaking in my bottoms as I meticulously applied wax to my board. I literally was shaking with excitement as I started carrying it to the shore. I went past the beautiful veranda of a rest house that was about to be finished. I saw beyond the coconut trees, the long stretch of graceful waves demurely luring me to try and ride them.

The inevitable wipe outs that I've come to enjoy. Here's the view of the reef underneath the surface.

The inevitable wipe outs that I've come to enjoy. Here's the view of the reef underneath the surface.

Putting my leash on, I carefully tread along the nearing low-tide water to the line-up. Perhaps for me the least favorite part of getting to the line-up is the slow and painful walk on reef or rock where urchins and other sharp pointy things were waiting to cut my skin.

With a push and a jump I lie prone and start paddling out. Looking at the reef below me and looking at the waking sky, the silhouette of the mountains behind, the warmth of the water and my body warming up, I couldn’t have found a better place to be.

The next best thing to having long rides is probably sitting up on your board after that long paddle, already on the lookout for the next wave to catch. Now, not having 20/20 vision is an ailment when you’re searching for waves, thank God for surf buddies who have the heart to signal when there’s a potential wave coming in.

Just when you thought you had time to catch your breath somebody shouts at you to start paddling. Immediately, I lie down and start paddling hard. Looking back to check what the wave looks like.

Circa 2014 - Me still learning (and I still am up to now) how to catch waves. Hence, the awkward position.

Circa 2014 - Me still learning (and I still am up to now) how to catch waves. Hence, the awkward position.

Is it big? Is it about to break? Am I going to make it? Yes. I have to. So I go into my own little world of commitment to that wave. I have to be able to catch it, I have to get up, stand and not fall down immediately.

That sudden rush of adrenaline starts pumping. I quickly look back to see the wave - its getting closer. I look back at the shore and then back to my board’s nose to check if my position was still correct. The wave inches ever closer and I start paddling like there's a shark behind me. I feel the board rise then glide under the wave, gradually picking up speed.

Every single time I correctly catch a wave, the board just becomes alive in that moment. I place my hands on the top and thrust with all my strength, balancing every single nerve in me with a made-up mantra going on repeat in my head “Just go and do it!”

Every second counted from the take-off to standing and dropping low was all in the name of balance. Feeling more confident, I gradually stand up as the board picks up speed. It almost seems like its skipping on the water’s surface. Riding the edge of the wave, I see the water getting shallower as the wave continuously breaks beautifully on the reef.

Struggling with the pop-up while the more experienced friend is already up and riding. Lesson learned, leave the GoPro behind next time.

Struggling with the pop-up while the more experienced friend is already up and riding. Lesson learned, leave the GoPro behind next time.

Still keeping the balance, I look around and just absorb everything that’s happening while riding the wave. Trying to enjoy the blissful moment of sunset that was gradually unfolding before my very eyes, I give a sigh of satisfaction.

I felt humbled, I felt small, I felt unneeded in this new world I discovered. It didn’t need me to ride its wave. It didn’t have to ask me to write about it nor did it want to be discovered. I just happened to be here at the right time, with the right people and the right vibe.

We all wanted to experience what only a handful few could ever feel in such a short span of time. The feeling of the ultimate rush of everything good, the supreme pleasure called stoke of riding on a wave, stopping only when it wanted and where it wanted.

There are just too many wonderful emotions that keep my heart ablaze that words can never be enough to make you, the reader, feel what I felt out there in the ocean. I write this as human being enthralled by the magic of the sea and everything in it. With my recent discovery of the supreme pleasure of riding waves, I have finally conceded to the fact that I desire to continue riding waves until I can no longer do so. ♥♥♥

Walking along the shore after a good day of waves and wipe outs.

Walking along the shore after a good day of waves and wipe outs.

*** I wrote this around two years ago when I was stuck in an airport. I was just learning how to surf then. I couldn't get my mind off that amazing day in September 2014. It felt surreal. I still feel the same way now. I guess the only thing that changed is time... (I'm still a beginner! haha)

Thank you to Gabby Sibala of Dahican Surf Resort and Dahican Surf School for the lessons and lending us boards! :)

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