When you picture a surfer, do images of Fast Times at Ridgemont High's Jeff Spicoli or Patrick Swayze's portrayal of Bodhi in the original Point Break come to mind? There is certainly a stereotype historically associated with surfers, often the bleach-blonde California space cadet that would rather spend the day taking bong hits and riding waves rather than doing anything of "substance." This stereotype has always been misguided, and these days it's incredibly outdated.
The world sees surfers from all walks of life. Some people hold 9-5 jobs and sneak in surf sessions before or after their day at the office. Some wait tables or sling hash to pay the bills and give them plenty of time to paddle out. Some surfers are mothers, some are fathers, some are businessmen, some are yogis. A surfer might want to surf every single day, while another may just like to catch a few good rides once in a while.
There isn't one particular way of living that fits neatly into the mold of the surfer lifestyle. You don't have to spend your days lazing around on the beach in between surf sessions to be a surfer. Of course, you can if you want to. That's the beauty of the surfer lifestyle, it is what you make it.
There is one thing that all surfers have in common, the stoke. Basically, it's a shared enthusiasm for the pursuit of riding waves. A longboarder that loves to cruise two-foot waves on Sundays has at least that much in common with a big wave specialist that travels to Hawaii to charge the monsters that wash up on the North Shore each winter. Their experiences may differ greatly, but the enjoyment that each gets out of their pursuit mirrors that of the other. As long as you're feeling the stoke, you're embracing the surfer lifestyle.
The soul surfer dedicates his life to the craft. He or she throws themselves into surfing entirely, making nearly every activity of their lives about surfing in some way. Morning yoga helps increase flexibility, a huge boon to performance in the water. Meditation clears the mind and helps achieve the focus they need to truly become one with the wave they're riding. Even when they're not surfing, they're mind-surfing. They've committed to surfing in ways that few are willing to because it offers them peace that is unattainable anywhere else.
The weekend surfer doesn't mind the crowds. They've chugged along all through the work week, never losing sight of that weekend session on the horizon. They may not shred like a pro, but they hoot and holler at every approaching set and congratulate others on their best rides. They're having more fun than anyone.
The stoic surfer doesn't like chatting in the lineup; they're there to lock in and receive their aquatic medicine. They sit way outside, waiting on the bombs, and when they score everyone marvels at their enviable form and effortless style. It may be impossible to achieve perfection in surfing, but they certainly come close, leaving all others in awe of their ability. They never say a word, simply paddling back to their deep position to wait for their next dose.
And on and on it goes. All surfers share the stoke, and it makes for a kind of kinship throughout the tribe. Sure, aggro surfers may hate the kooks, and just about everyone else for that matter, but all in all there's usually a mutual respect for anyone that paddles out, as there should be. The surfer lifestyle is about the stoke, an appreciation for the natural world that provides our blue playground, and the camaraderie that comes with being a part of the club. The specifics are up to you, as you're free to make your surfer lifestyle whatever you choose. Thus, embracing the surfer lifestyle should come easily.