Surf’s Up

Have I talked about this movie? It’s one of my favorites, though I no longer remember how we ever happened to run across it years ago. It’s a sweet little coming of age story involving a penguin trying to win a surfing championship, and it’s on my list of comfort food movies.

It is also the source of literally everything I know about surfing. At one point the guru character is explaining the need to acknowledge that it’s the wave providing all the motive power, and you just have to go with it: “Let the wave do the work; you can’t fight those big waves.” Such is life at the best of times, but one is particularly aware of it right now. There’s a lot going on that is obviously beyond our control. However we skitter up and down the front of the wave, we are going where it goes.

At the end of last week I attended (listened in on) a Web conversation about the Art of Doing Nothing, about the irreplaceable value of time that is not spent in any particular activity. Day-dreaming, doodling, going for a stroll, lying in bed and watching the shadows on the blinds, really listening to a piece of music… these are not susceptible to the relentless drumbeat of optimization that pervades even our supposed down-time. They can carry us, if we allow them, or fray our attention if we do not, leave us wondering why we feel so wiped out.

Confinement is definitely wearing on me as we enter Week 9 (on top of which, it snowed yesterday). I have anxious moments, worried nights. A strong light is being thrown on many of our institutions, and few of them show well under it, and the extent of the work to be done can be paralytic. Still, I have found moments of feeling creatively refreshed and physically energized. The curling edge of emotion changes daily if not hourly, driven by many things that are beyond my control. Context changes, needs shift. Water reminds us that nothing is ever truly still, the contradiction in meditation.

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