"Why is it so fun to chase tiny surf?" I asked my friend Mitchel as we paddled out into 2-3 foot sets at Dockweiler Beach. It's a paradox for sure, but as I sat waist deep in the cool early-June Pacific waters, gazing out to a flat horizon, hoping for some sort of swellular disruption, I couldn't help but feel something like happiness.
I've written before that every surfer at some point says, "It's just good to be out in the water," and on this day it was more than true. The morning was peaceful and overcast, with a slight drizzle of refreshment that would flare from time to time. It was quiet, as we essentially had the break to ourselves (crowd diminishing: one very good thing about small waves), and though I spent the first twenty minutes of my time in the water reminiscing about the multiple head-high days I had had at that very same spot, I was struck by the bliss and contentment that washed over me like the closeout of nearly every wave I caught.
It looks bigger when you get low!
The joy that morning was a good reminder of why we surf: not to catch the biggest and best wave, but for fun, for introspection, for community. To enjoy nature as a group of wave riders searching for a life of balance, a part of which must include small days. For if every session were ten-foot barrels of glass rolling in never-ending sets on sunny California days, would we even recognize them as perfection? Or would the callous of perpetual fortune cover up our capacity to enjoy both the good and the bad? For what is gold if there is no dirt, and what are barrels if there are no closeouts?
Small waves are a gentle reminder to accept what we are given with humble gratitude, knowing we have no control over the swells of nature. You can chase waves to the ends of the earth, or stay put and complain about your lackluster home break; but the man of contentment will enjoy them both. On this day I was that man of contentment, and on this day I was happy.