“It’s not about the destination that counts – it’s all about the journey.”
“He who looks ahead, dreams. He who looks within, lives.”
The road is slick and bumpy, and our small truck bounces along the muddy pavement. The rain has brought an abundance of small streams and waterfalls that flow down the hill and across the small road. The downpour hasn’t discouraged the residents of this quiet side of town, and we pass several women carrying fresh produce from their mountain gardens on their backs. A flock of goats run across the muddy road, chased by a frisky dog, followed by an angry goat-farmer yelling curses. Indonesia.
We drive on, round a curve in the road and the surfer in him gets excited, “THERE IT IS!” and “LOOK AT THAT SWELL!” I laugh nervously at his excitement, the way his eyes linger on the waves instead of on the road, and fear for our lives, envisioning a large truck that could appear around the corner at any moment, and I imagine us thrown from the side of the hill into that swell, surfing the break from inside the vehicle. Maybe I should drive.
We decide to drive on in search for more consistent swell, when the pavement ends and a large gate blocks our path. A group of burley men gambling and eating rice eye us curiously as we stop at the gate. Their leader approaches us, “You must turn around! This is no longer a safe zone! This is a bomb area… BOOM!” He rambles in Indonesian, mimicking an explosion with his hands. T says, “Can’t we just pass through? We’d like to check out the swell on the point past the wharf.” But nope. The Bomb-Maker creates another explosion sound and shakes his head. In half an hour they are going to bomb the rocks – there’s no way we’re getting through. We turn the truck around, the guys calling after us, join us for dinner though? Thanks but no thanks.
We return to the break we found earlier, at the end of a large wharf, a small village between us and water. We drive carefully between the houses, careful not to accidentally make an early dinner of somebody’s stray chicken. A following of children compile behind our truck, curious about the white couple driving past their houses.
We get out and the kids lead us eagerly to their surf spot – we climb a gated wall to get to the end of the wharf (and later get in trouble with the owner for hopping the fence. Oops. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission, right?) T jumps into the white water and paddles into the surf that is breaking out front.
The girls tell me they play in the waves too – on boards much like boogie-boards. Today however, the sport is board-less, and four boys jump in after T, to begin body-surfing the waves.
The girls beside me yell, “NOT THAT WAVE! Wait for the wave behind you! It’s bigggeerrrrr!” and we all laugh. T catches a large break and the kids cheer.
The kids play in the foam that crashes against the pier, chasing the water as it flows back into the sea, and scrape barnacles off the underside of the pier for snacks. T surfs until the sun sinks low in the rainy clouds, and we walk through the coconut trees back to the muddied truck.
Yes, the finding – and catching – of the perfect wave is everything. The wave that has the perfect break, barreling over you as the sun reflects on the rail. Or a smooth face, the lip begging to be ripped, a sick turn waiting to be carved.
And yet the some of the most meaningful and memorable times have been in the waiting, in the seeking, in the quiet moments that we dare to slow down and truly become fully alive – wherever you are – to be all there – and even if the waves are small: to ride the wave you’re given.
And, after all, happiness is only real when shared. So make sure you share it.