Monday, August 3, 2009

A Fortunate (Surfing) Life

On a recent trip to the East coast for the ISSS conference, sustainable systems were firmly in my mind. While I would not fly simply to surf, to combine sustainability conversations and working on solutions with a day in perfect local conditions, made the trip even more memorable.

My love affair with surfing began about thirty years ago and I have been blessed growing up with uncrowded waves, clean oceans and relatively warm seas surfing diligently ever since. Paddling out at Tallows near Australia's eastern tip last week was a recollection of a perfect day had almost 22 year ago. It made me wonder which is more remarkable, that I am still surfing or the place is relatively unchanged.

A pod of ten dolphins joined us and on a few occasions surfaced all around me. Mothers and babies in the crowd. In my 15 hours in the water back home in the West over the last few days of classic calm and glassy unusual winter swells the same thing occurred and I rejoice in this relatively low impact surfing life.

As mentioned in this month's historic Australian Surfing Life's Green Issue (Issue 252) even the simplest and purest of sports have hidden impacts. Unsung surfing heroes of the environment (a close friend included) raise points in this issue of an awareness of joint responsibility impossible to ignore.

The impacts of our capacity to destroy what we love hit me hard in Byron. After several hours in the water the inflammation in my throat was so great I could not swallow a meal and the infection in both ears made my hearing vanish. Like the individuals in the protest of the pollution unseen of a coastal society I became deaf, dumb, and in pain.

Each time I surf and watch the coastline viewscape change with development, I think the more things change the more they stay the same. Interestingly, Tallow Beach is named after a shipwreck in 1864 which lost its cargo of 120 casks of tallow fat which then washed ashore. We bring our consciousness to every endeavour. If the consciousness is unchanged then the landscape too will become changed, simply by our unawareness.

For many reasons, mostly the joy of the clean ocean where I live - the Surfrider Foundation is getting my renewed membership today and a donation for every wave I have caught during that last trip.

Everything has a cost. The question really is, what needs to be our contribution.

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