When you run your hand across your cheek to wipe the wind-swept spray from your face, the prickly sensation of a forgotten shave causes a shiver to descend down your spine. But the icy ocean that surrounds and submerges your arm with every stroke only intensifies the shudder, gaining in strength with every movement. As you arc your neck to catch a glimmer of what is facing you the coldness wraps your body like the devil from the depths. There is no way of avoiding it, nowhere to run or hide. You are there, in the most powerful force the planet has to offer. And the only way to survive, to beat the incessant and persistent energy that rips through the human soul like an eagle’s claws through its prey, is to take another stroke. As your arms thrash through the surface and splinter the water like a broken mirror, your muscles sore and ache from the punishing resistance of nature.
With half-closed eyes you lift your vision from the safe but rugged surface of your life support and eye another wall of dense and impenetrable water. The impending collision slowly looming ever closer causes the mind to take control of your arms and you find your grip on the rail locks like a stare in a deer’s eyes. With no way to avoid your fate, you open your mouth and take a breath, so deep it is as if it was your last. You feel, with every ounce of energy and might within your battered body, the need to push down and force yourself through the vast and rough surface. Water rushes through your body attempting to separate you from your partner, desperate to divorce you from your board. As the wall meets its mortal you go down into the abyss.
The world slows. Time stops. Deafening noise becomes silent and for the first time since you found yourself in this land of danger and peril, an overwhelming sense of safety floods your senses and a depth of warmth accompanies the darkness of the submerged kingdom you have plunged into. Although the ability to live is now limited, the sense of wondrous lust fills the body and comfort exudes through every vein.
A kick of the legs and an arc of the back lifts the board towards the light and after what seems like an age, you are able to fill your lungs again, contorting your neck to ensure an early gasp. Your sight squints forward and focuses on the next battle stage, a continuous charge of thundering waves await, relentless in their perseverance. Your body wants to leave, to quit and release itself of the pain, but the mind simply cannot.
As each pass of water attempts to stall your progress, to take you back and break your mentality, you know you must push forward. With only an army of one you face the world alone, the war being fought on all levels; physical, chemical and emotional. As the paralyzing temperature intensifies, the focus of the mind struggles. The crippling pain of savaged muscles breaks the morale of the body and sends emotions of doubt through you like knives through flesh. But as each wave passes, determination gets stronger. With each inflicted wound of emotion your inner strength is fed. And as you reach your goal, your ambition of survival, you realise the fruitful task that lies ahead; the realisation of your efforts are met. Sitting in the calm and placid tranquility of the sun-drenched line up, with not even a force to cause momentary reaction, your weary body even refuses to wipe the pain of salt from your eyes.
It is only then your mind is able to breath in time with your beaten lungs. You draw breath and contemplate your achievement, your efforts and demoralising agony that brought you to where you are. With nothing in sight to corrupt your thoughts, you look towards the challenge that sent you to the peaceful resting place of this paradise. Uncontrollably, you begin to paddle back to towards the deepening devil. Without even a doubting thought, you kick out and enjoy the ride. Undoing your work, your incredible journey through solid nature, you glide over the hurt, allowing a smile to spread across your unshaven face, forgetting the past and reconciling the pain.
The thrill is short spent, almost wasteful. The energy to continue only found from deep within. For it isn’t long before you once again take on the savage beast, to seek the opportunity to do battle with yourself once again. A battle, you are fully aware, that only you can win.