We were doing ok, we were doing alright. That was until last Friday, when LA County closed the beaches.
We are being told to stay home for an indefinite amount of time, restricted from the comfort of being with our friends and family, reduced to unemployment by being labeled “non-essential”, prohibited from
gathering in our churches, schools, local eateries, stores, and our gyms.
For the sake of our families, community, and world, we complied. At least we still had one thing to look forward to: surf.
Surf- the ocean that washes away the anxiety of today and tomorrow and the fun challenge of a sport that brings an irreplaceable bliss that lingers throughout the lonely day. The happy-tired feeling of exhausting play that brings true rest at night, despite the circumstances of the troubled world.
That was until recently. In what little we had left, our last joy of surfing has also been taken from us.
For all surfers, this is devastating. More crushing than when we were laid off and more defeating than self-isolation. If only our leaders could understand more about surfing and its many benefits, maybe, just maybe, they would open our oceans to us once again.
Perhaps if they knew that surfing is a solitary sport, they would change their minds. If they saw the lineup they’d notice everyone follows the 6 feet apart rule. And only one person per wave, that’s the unspoken law. We don’t congregate before we surf because we’re just trying to get in the water and we don’t congregate after- we’re cold and hungry and want to go home and shower.
Maybe if the County and the Department of Public Health knew how physically and mentally beneficial surfing was, they’d let us surfers surf. Salt water is filled with magnesium and is good for our bones, muscles, nerves, heart health and helps to regulate blood pressure. The regular exercise of surfing strengthens our immune and respiratory systems- extremely important in times like these.
Our leaders have probably read the articles about how suicide hotlines across the country are reporting a startling increase in calls since the new social distancing requirements, but they might not realize that surfing reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety, physiological stress, and improves moods. What we call “stoke” science calls serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine.
We ache to feel that stoke again. We are being told to “stay safe, stay healthy”, but our ability to care for our own basic physical and mental needs have been closed with the access to the ocean.
It is with a desperate hope that the County and the Department of Public Health will come to understand how safe and how essential surfing is to the wellbeing of the community. We urge you, our leaders, to give us some shred of light in our extremely bleak future. We’ve had everything taken away. Please, at least let us surf.