I must admit I have not been out surfing since the recent shark attack on a local Tri-athelete in Solana Beach. But I have been to the beach — Solana Beach, in fact — and watched the surfers enjoy the waves. This was three days after the attack. It seems that surfers, for reasons unfathomable to most folks, ignore the inherent ‘dangers’ of the deep and keep on going. Why, you might ask? Here are several reasons I can come up with, being a surfer myself and intent on surfing again one day…
1. This is only the second fatal shark attack in SD county in 50 years (the 1994 attack was later found to be an accidental plummet off a cliff).
2. The chances of a shark attack are very low, period. I’ve a better chance of a fatal car crash on my way to work.
3. Have you ever watched surfers? Or watched folks who watch surfers? They get this far-off stare, this thousand-mile gaze as if they are taken away to a better place and achieving just a little taste of Zen for the first time in their lives. They are at peace just watching surfers — so imagine the peace, the Zen that a surfer experiences when they are actually surfing. This, above and beyond talk of statistics and chances and the ‘dangers of the deep’, is why surfers risk going back into the ocean. Surfing is the closest I’ve come to peace, to that Zen state of satori.
I wouldn’t give that up for the world. And I don’t think any surfer would. That’s why they go right back in the water one, two, or three days after a shark attack. It’s part of living — being — and that’s a hard thing to run away from because life might do what life does. Death is inevitable, but a great life is not. Work hard at the latter — the former is unstoppable.