Surfing and Beach Lifestyle
Getting involved in surfing does not just entail getting on a board and learning how to surf. It is a process of immersing oneself in a different culture, much like traveling to or living in a foreign country.
Surf culture is an interesting and slightly complicated concept that is often misrepresented unfairly in mainstream culture and through commercialization of the sport.
Rooted deeply in its Polynesian beginnings, surfing embodies the ideals of cooperation, peaceful existence, kindness and environmentalism. It seems from this perspective more than just a sport, but a way of life.
Indeed to some surfers there is a spiritual aspect to it. Many centre their spiritual lives around the water and the surfboard and typically these are the surfers who truly transcend any stereotype or criticism of the surfing subculture.
They are the ones who seem to just take life as it comes, like the ebb and flow of the tide. They are very easy going and willing to share their knowledge and time.
Music and movies brought surfing to the mainstream in the 1950’s -1960’s and perhaps are reason for the erroneous ideas that surfers are beach bums, rarely holding down jobs and sometimes depicted as less than intelligent.
As with any subculture there is a lingo that surfers understand and if you don’t know it, listening to a conversation may be like hearing a foreign language. If you are just getting into the sport and have never been around the surf scene, it can be downright confusing. Most of their slang has to do with talking about the waves and the way of life and many surfers are highly irritated at the misrepresentation of their lingo in the mainstream.
As with any culture there is a certain wariness of newbies – or kooks as they are so called, but overall surfers are happy to share their love of the water and waves and see someone trying to learn and to help out with that. As the sport grows more popular and competitive however, these ideals are not always present and kooks can find themselves being ridiculed and singled out for criticism without really understanding why.
Getting involved in a sport with such a strong and slightly mysterious subculture can make it harder than just learning how to do the sport. Surf culture is complex because of the misrepresentations and commercialisations but once beyond that it is actually simple.