Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sense of Smell

My senior year in high school I had a job at Holiday Inn working in the banquet service. I'd be there from right after school until sometimes three to four in the morning, watching drunk people do the macarena at weddings, corporate Christmas parties etc. I remember when I first started I was excited at the prospect of free food (loved food, still do!) from the surprisingly good kitchen. I commented on it my first day, and I've never forgotten what my supervisor said. Apparently, when you've worked in food service for a while, you actually get to the point where just the smell will satisfy you. Of course you still have to eat, but the additional temptation to eat more than neededf just goes away after a short time. I found this to be true, and even there I didn't last long at that job, that always stuck with me for some reason.

Being a new father, moving, and working a sales job in the current economy, time to get out in the water has been more than scarce for the last several months. I was on the road to work early one morning this last week and decided to take the scenic route up PCH from Newport to Huntington Beach, for the sole purpose of seeing if the smell of the ocean would help me through this long dry spell. I have to preface this with the fact that I didn't spend much time actually looking at the surf, not so much because I was driving, but that when I'm out of the water for a long period of time I just get frustrated seeing waves I can't ride.

Back to the experiment. I drove, windows down, several miles up, PCH, breathing in the fresh ocean air. For a moment I thought it would actually help, and really in a way it did. Part of the meditative benefit of surfing I believe is the the smell and sense off the ocean, and I got that. The only problem is that it still made me want more. Some surfers want more than just their local break, which has driven surf travel and exploration for decades. Part of being a "surfer" was the search for the next great wave, almost a constant limbo of being satisfied yet still yearning for more, knowing there was something more out there to experience. That's how I felt only in a sad, almost pathetic lesser degree. I am actually at the point where just being able to see the ocean, sense it and breathe in its aroma, makes me feel like I've reached that much more of a connection. I'm far from content with being out of the water for so long, but that's the thing about surfing, no other past-time (I don't' like to call it a sport) is so holistic in its experience. Maybe I'll write on that later.

Photo by Ryan Tatar

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