The Young and the Rested
When was the last time you felt truly rejuvenated and energized? What made you feel that way?
The last time I hit the surf.
Not that I’m one of the wetsuit-and-board brigade floating in mystic bliss beyond the break. Strictly a body-surfer, me, and these days I only catch one or two waves a season to prove I still can.
For the rest, I bob and float, jump over, dive through, swim and tumble, and revel in those things I ought not to revel in – like sun on bare shoulders – which doesn’t matter because I don’t care.
I was never even remotely athletic: a fat child, a tortured teenager regularly humiliated during the daily dose of compulsory sport. But I could always swim (not that I ever swam with school groups – see ‘fat child’) and every year, we came to the beach for a holiday, here where I now live.
My parents taught me to catch waves, and for four weeks every year I surfed each day until I was so waterlogged I could scarcely stagger home.
Those holidays came to an end, as things do, but some years later my children begged for similar holidays in the place where I’d had mine. So for about 10 years there we were every summer, me and four kids plus friends (theirs) setting off at 4am and no talking before breakfast (except for the year a spider came too, and I forgave them that) in an old-style kombi van that I pulled over on hills to let speedier travellers pass. And every year, the first dive through the first wave made it all worthwhile.
And now, every year after Christmas, we’re all here again, my kids now with partners and children. Last year my stepson and his family joined the throng, and this year, one of the friends from the Kombi is bringing his family as well.
So the rejuvenating powers of surfing don’t just lie in the buoyancy of salt water supporting my aging limbs, or in the vigour of the waves giving me a healthy involuntary workout. They also lie in a lifetime of good memories: a thread that runs through my life from my parents to my grandchildren, who seem to enjoy it as much as I do.