The other night, I surfed, unwittingly and unwisely. I had finished my initial work for deadline, was as fed up as all fuck, and took Jemima the kayak out on the lake despite the rather large waves. I decided I'd paddle out beyond the breakers and then realized, about 100 metres from shore, that the lake was ALL breakers.
Lake Nippising is a special lake - it's fucking enormous, and shallow, and sandy - a sort of massive, warm wavepool - which means when it's wavy, it's wavy. There's nowhere for the water to go but agitated. So finally I gingerly turned around and gingerly started paddling back to shore. I wasn't worried personally about getting dumped, because of said warmth and sandiness - but I'd paddled off in such a huff and hurry that I'd just dumped all my gear into the cockpit and I didn't want to lose any of it. Suddenly a wave grabbed the boat from behind and wafted it 40 metres towards the shore, and I was riding it; or rather it was carrying me like the wind might carry a little piece of thistledown or a bird. It was simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and most humbling experiences of my life, and it shocked me so much that when the wave let me go and the next one came I could hardly react, and got dumped. I didn't care though. I didn't care about anything for hours, actually.
So I'm going to learn how to swim properly, and I'm going to get over being fucking scared of sharks, and I'm going to learn how to surf. We live next to some of the planet's best surfing in Australia; it's not right I should waste that. And there's the other thing too of course; there's M and him getting pulled out to sea in Costa Rica. He's been on my mind here, where people still ask about him and about whether he's ever been found (he hasn't); and he's on my mind every time I look at the Pacific, colouring my feelings toward it, even when I have lovely times on its shores; I also see the thing that killed my friend.
I think my ears first perked up to surfing when I heard that surfers use riptides to pull themselves out easily beyond the breakers. Because it gets quite graphic in one's head, of course - what it must have been like for M in those last moments of his life - knowing the riptides were there, having been told what to do, and then panicking too much to do it when he was actually in one. If I learn how to surf maybe I can forgive the universe, and the Pacific (half the same thing in my head) for him dying in that awful way. I don't know. It's worth a shot. It's not the universe's or the Pacific's fault, after all.