by Barbara Fischkin
Deep Water Background
For an opus on surfing, I recommend Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan. I am humbled each time I pick up this book. Four summers ago, at 64, I decided to try to surf. People who do not surf, and even some who do, are impressed when I mention this, as if any day now I will be gliding upright over sky-high waves and onto the shore. The truth: For me this is a very minor undertaking and would not even qualify as a hobby. In other words: It is something to sneeze at. I have yet to stand up on a surfboard.
I can get on two knees, briefly and occasionally crouch on one foot while supported by the other knee. Then splash, I fall backwards into the water. Backwards is the correct way to fall. You can see the board before it bangs you in the head. With any luck you can then grab its rim or use the leash—presumably still attached around your ankle—to pull the board towards you and safely away from other surfers. I congratulate myself for, at the least, being able to fall off a surfboard well.
Finnegan writes that if you want to be an accomplished surfer, you must start by the time you are fourteen, at the latest. The exact quote: “People who tried to start at an advanced age, meaning over fourteen, had, in my experience, almost no chance of becoming proficient, and usually suffered pain and sorrow before they quit. It was possible to have fun, though, under supervision, in the right conditions…”
I agree, with some caveats. Read more »