Today I got a lesson in surf philosophy. Is there a better way to start the day than to share a surf, a cappuccino, and an epistemological and ethical debate?
“That’s the problem with you… you’re loud but you don’t act,” said my surfer friend when I explained to him that my neighbour had fenced off and “acquired” the public road that adjoined both of our properties.
“If it had been me, in that situation, your neighbour would have woken up to find his fence deposited on his doorstep,” added my action-prone mate.
He is right. My inclination tends to be to leave it to the universe to set things right. Or at least to leave it to the Council or the law to restore justice. But, as my mate suggested, the goddess “Fortuna” rarely looks kindly upon the inactive.
“That being said,” added John (who was still coming down from his early morning surf-induced stoke), “I have some sympathy for your neighbour’s position.”
“What do you mean? “I replied. “The bastard looks like he has gotten his grubby mitts on public land… and public land that adjoins my property effectively preventing me from using it!”
Worst surfing sin of all
“Yeah. I know. But you weren’t using it and I hate to see things go to waste. What’s the biggest sin in surfing? Snaking is bad. Dropping-in on someone is bad. Riding those stupid bouncy-bouncy foil things is bad. Being an arsehole local who thinks they are entitled to every wave in the ocean is bad. But…. worst of all? Worst of all is a dick who doesn’t paddle hard enough and lets a wave… a wave that everyone else in the line-up is frothing for… go rolling to the shore unridden. That’s it. Wasting waves… that limited resource that we all love… is the worst!”
“Hmm,” I grunt in response.
“It’s like you and that bloody Mazda MX5 you had stolen. Same thing.”
“Waddya mean?” I ask.
“Well, you left it parked in the street at the front of the mechanics waiting for a new engine, didn’t you? For weeks! Of course someone comes along and says ‘hey… no one wants this car… I may as well take it… break it up and sell the parts.’ I understand that. The car was being wasted. The universe hates waste. The bloke who took it was taking action.”
“But it was my car!” I respond indignantly.
John swivelled on his seat and withdrew his legs from under the table. He then raised his leg and pointed at his foot.
“Look,” he said.
“Yeah… that’s your foot,” I reply. “And a damned fine foot it is too. Much nicer than mine. But what are you trying to say?”
He points downward again… grumpily.
“Not the foot. Though it is a fine foot. I am pointing at my thongs. Would you believe that I haven’t bought a pair of thongs for maybe fifty years?”
I obediently looked down at his feet again and identify a pair of black thongs that are, noticeably, at least two sizes too small for my mate’s handsome, well-manicured toes.
“Yeah… well, neither have I. Wouldn’t wear the horrible farking things if you paid me. But I’ll bite. Where do you get yours from?” I ask.
“Well, when I go surfing at the Pass, if, when I am walking down to the water’s edge, I pass a pair of thongs left on the beach, I make a mental note. When I have finished my surf, a couple of hours later, if the thongs are still there, I pick them up, walk them up the beach into the car park and leave them in a prominent place near the toilet block… you know… a place where everyone has to walk past and can’t miss them. I just leave them there. For twenty-four hours. Just twenty-four hours. If the thongs are still there the next day when I come for a surf, bingo! They are mine! Like I said. Haven’t bought a pair of thongs in fifty years. Can’t stand to see things going to waste. Can’t stand inaction.”
I was grateful to John for his insights into my failings as a person and a surfer. In life and in surfing one must not be wasteful. Inaction is also frowned upon.
I do wonder though whether Socrates, Aristotle, Schopenhauer, or Nietzsche would stop to collect a pair of small black thongs at the beach. Stylish sandals, perhaps? Hmmm. Come to think of it, Nietzsche would probably wear thongs.