I spent a long time watching people surf waves before I ever paddled out. Even before I moved to Hawaii I’d scour the photos and writings of SURFER & SURFING magazines. My favorite was a piece or caption about searching for a place that doesn’t really exist.
Once in Hawaii, I’d sit and watch north shore surfers get some sic waves and get pummeled by them too. I’d silently marvel at the fact that a human could live through such beatings but mostly at how after such earth pounding pummels the surfers would pop up somewhere and sprint back out for more.
I’d hang out with big wave riders tripping on the whole scenario and the pearls of wisdom the Hawaiians would drop on Haole big wave riders; things like “it’s only water brah”.
I don’t know what or who made me do it, but 2 years later I bought a used 8′, fat, floaty gun, shaped by Bushman and glassed by Selma. On the stringer they had written “Something Cosmic” in pencil.
I spent the next year and a half paddling out by myself, surfing, but not really surfing. Really just dorking. I was like a baby trying to walk, catching white water, trying to figure it out on my own; the balance, the timing, the dynamic. My God! it’s dynamic, beautiful and scary. I took my licks, got held down, crushed, scrapped, dragged, scarred, always a little too late, a little too early, a little too caught inside.
Have you ever heard a hundred sticks of dynamite explode under water? That’s what it sounds like when Laniakea comes down right on top of you in the impact zone. Everything implodes. You feel your organs shift and your cerebellum contract, you wonder if there will be any internal bleeding, you wait, when it gets really quiet you go up for air.
So anyway, I remember this one particular evening clearly because the image of it is burned into the retina of my minds eye forever.
After two more years of no longing or expecting, after all the licks, and thinking I should quit and realizing immediately that that was impossible, my WAVE came.
My first real “blue water” wave. The sweet spot wave. The right spot at the right time wave, where you find for the first time that place that doesn’t really exist.
And you find yourself standing there, the sun low and at your back about to set, and you don’t remember standing up, but you are, and you are for lack of any other words receiving this gift. You know it, and you know the ocean knows it, because there is a certain Mana about it.
Time has stopped and you are not moving a muscle because that might end the dream. You are totally in the pocket. You are looking down and you see only your left foot and the tip of your Bushman and the reef, every detail of it, as it flies by beneath you.
You are consciously aware of how mesmerized you are and seeing it, but most of all feeling it and it’s friggin incredible.
words & art ‘MAHINA’ © lynette wich
*Mana is the concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects.
*Mana is divinely-given power and authority. All of life possesses mana to some degree.
I went on to get many more lickings and some big beautiful waves.
There was the time I got caught inside for so long that I panicked thinking I was about to drown until my friend paddled over and reminded me that it was only 2 feet deep and that I could just stand up. Oh yeah. I might cut my feet to shreds but who cares I’d be alive.
And the time I was late in my take off and the wave catapulted me forward bending me in two, backwards. My feet pushed up and over, tapping the back of my head and staying there, held by the force of the wave. It was truly an amazing yoga move.
By this time in my surfing career I had learned to relax and count during my hold downs and try to have fun with it. So I did this now as I scooted face down inches from the reef in this amazing backbend for nine seconds. Just counting, 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, staying calm. It was the only option really. If I had tried to come out of it, my body, my muscles, would be ripped apart.
As she does, the ocean let go. The wave made a deep sigh and was gone. I surfaced, pulled my board to me got on and paddled back out for just one more wave.
And as she does she gave me incredible experiences. Way over head waves where I stood at the pinnacle before screaming down the face. Long quarter mile rides in town when the sand bar was just right. Toes on the nose. Sunrises and round rainbows. Turtles. Surfing all alone and sometimes with friends.
I moved away and have surfed once since. ‘Something Cosmic’ still sits here waiting. Don’t worry I’m coming.