As time goes by and one gets older (and hopefully wiser), you learn to identify certain characteristics in people. I don’t like to generalise, of course we are all unique, but in my experience, I have found that there are two main categories of people; what I call the ‘surfers’ and the ‘divers’.
I am not actually referring to any water sport but rather to an attitude to life. Divers like to experience life from its deeper levels of meaning and purpose whilst surfers take life at face value and just run with it, adapting to the waves as they come without further contemplation as to what made the waves in the first place, or where they might be coming from or to what purpose. These are questions that divers would ask themselves if they were surfers.
Divers can surf, but only enjoy it for short periods of time before the superficiality of it starts getting to them, and surfers enjoy discovering the secrets of diving but can only take it for a while before they need to go back to the surface for air. Down below it feels too intense for them and they quite literally start feeling out of their depth (no pun intended).
Surfing can be fun, it’s exhilarating, exciting. It’s where the ego reigns; in the surface of life. We all sometimes need to surf a little, I do enjoy it from time to time, I take off my diving gear and I pretend the depths of the ocean are not there for a while. I take in the view, feel the lightness of the surfing existence and wonder how some people surf all their lives without diving deep into the wonders of life. It sure feels to me that they are missing on the best part.
The irony is, that I have come to realise that the more you dive, the better you get at surfing! Once you have the courage to delve deep into life itself, into its meaning and its purpose, you begin to master the navigation on the surface; for you are guided by the depths. After all, it’s impossible to tell from the surface in which direction the undercurrents are flowing, but if you are in touch with what is within, you simply know which direction to take, which makes surfing not just exciting, but actually purposeful.
In my experience, surfers are generally attracted to divers, suddenly they present them with a new perspective on things, with a greater meaning, with an unknown intensity. This fascination can be quite addictive at first, the surfer, who had only navigated the surface, suddenly discovers there’s another world deep down and is intrigued, curious and hungry to find out more. But it is intense at the bottom, it is deep, meaningful, scary and requires courage, acceptance, self-responsibility, humility and a willingness to leave the ego behind. This can be a little too much for the surfer, who at this point is gasping for air and missing the triviality of floating on the surface, where they are driven by the direction in which the waves go. With no self-responsibility involved, no taking control of the reigns, just going with the flow. Life feels simpler to them on the surface and the ego is quite happy to be ruling again.
Friendship and relationships between surfers and divers are complex. They are not impossible, but they do require of a continuous dance of compromise; an ongoing surfing and diving and diving and surfing. A balance between the two attitudes is certainly not a bad compromise but the problems arise when the surfer finds the diver too intense and the diver finds the surfer too superficial. Houston, we have a problem!
I am not sure what the solution is, I am still trying to figure it out. As a diver myself, and an intense and passionate one at it, I have still to master the technique of practicing both sports in a balanced manner. I do try, and I feel I am getting better at it, after all, there are many fewer divers than surfers in the world so I sometimes have to surf in order to socialise. Luckily for me, I am a hermit at heart, so I am quite ok with just surfing now and then. In the meantime, I feel privileged to derive so much fulfilment, joy and purpose from my diving. It has made me who I am and given me what I feel I am here to give. So, to the surfers I would say, try diving a little more, you might find meaning, and to the divers I would say, please let me know who you are!
PD. Did I mention I am a Piscean? :))