I have been living in southern California for 5 years, yet it is still difficult for me to grasp the idea of me as a Californian, probably because I stay mostly indoors with the piano, living in a downtown area which could be believed to be in the middle of NYC. I always thought that a true resident of this beautiful weather knows how to regularly surf or do some water sport in the ocean. Although I know that this is not the case through knowing many people from here, for the first time I was given a chance to try to dip into the ocean in a wetsuit with a surf board in San Diego last week.
I swim, which gives me an advantage in starting this complicated sport, yet it was nothing like I anticipated. I was completely out of my element - cold salty water in a rough weather, difficulty with putting on a wetsuit, surviving through every wave coming towards me, and constantly being thrown into the water. The magazine look of someone gliding into the green waves was definitely a fantasy that I couldn’t even dream in my wildest dream, yet every surfer I know seems to be completely addicted to this sport. What about it is so satisfying and such pure bliss?
As much as I wanted to say to myself that I tried once and didn’t get it, something in me spoke to me otherwise. That was completely not me, yet there was something very familiar about it too: I heard that surfing has one of the steepest learning curves in sports - it takes years for one to be able to call himself a surfer. Learning to play the piano or violin is similar. It takes years to get all of you to create music on a piano coordinating the body, mind, brain, and emotion at the same time. Even if you intellectually understand what it takes to play music in your head on the first day of learning the instrument, it is another story to be able to do it. Ask any pianist - they will tell you that it would have been one of the most complicated and difficult, yet the most satisfying things they ever tried.
So I decided to give this challenge a real try based on 3 reasons: 1. I get to go out to the nature and can always use an excuse to connect with nature. 2. I am curious to experience that pure bliss that people talk about when they are in tune with the universal energy in surfing. 3. In a very strange way, everything about surfing that is so not me pushes me to go against myself and asks me to expand. Hopefully this growth will add to my music making and person.
You won’t hear much about my surfing journey for the next 5 or 6 months. But I will be in the water at least 4 times a week from 5:30 to 7:15 a.m. which will allow me to start my piano practice by 9 as usually. I will consistently put myself out there and keep a journal of what I felt and what I learned each day. I will fully report to you after 6 months of consistent and deliberate practice in the water. I equipped myself with the best coaches who can guide me. I am eager to learn and fail, being a complete beginner again. I will do my best not to be discouraged, although I know that I will feel defeated many times. I will play safely, as I need my healthy body to play the piano.
Wish me luck! If you are a surfer, please share your experience and wisdom with me!