“For whatever we lose (a you or a me)
It’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
The ocean is a powerful force that cannot be tamed, and even the bravest humans have learnt to respect its liquid fists. The very best have discovered a way to channel that blue energy instead of fighting it, giving in to the flow and letting the cresting waves lead the dance.
Chris Bertish, one of the world’s handful of big wave surfers (these waves are mini-tsunamis), has just released his biography, entitled Stoked. Surfer jargon for damn happy, it epitomises Chris’s passionate attitude to life.
I was expecting a thrilling read about his career and the ocean which my dolphin heart adores, but I wasn’t prepared for the wisdom he traced in beautiful lines of ink. I didn’t anticipate the metaphors looping around the intensity of depression and the surprising ways we can learn to master it and use its energy, instead of fighting it. Because, just like the ocean, it will kick our asses if we try, almost every time.
Chris writes, “My earliest childhood memories are of the ocean. I loved learning from it and trying to figure out its various moods, how it moved and breathed. I learnt to flow with it, not fight against it, to let it help me rather than hinder me. I loved all its moods and how it was constantly changing. I learnt that in life I needed to be flexible and change like the ocean, to feel and experience the freedom that it offered.”
Maybe, just maybe, by learning its currents and harnessing the power of our depression, we can learn to panic less. Because when you panic in the dark waters, that is when you drown. Letting go and waiting for the churning, angry barrels to roll over us, allows us to surface for air without struggling.
The analogy of the vast ocean as a backdrop to my fluctuating moods was on my mind while I drove along Sea Point’s promenade last weekend. As I turned on the radio, a song’s opening lyrics spoke of the sea. I listened as Rachel Platten sang and then got goosebumps as she hit the chorus. I realized that the fight is not against depression. It’s a fight to take my life back. I don’t need to fight this thing that is so much bigger than I am; I need to get out there, paddle like hell and then try again. And again. And again. Fight to ride that wave; to aggressively find that those moments of sheer happiness when I’m cruising down a wall that, instead of crushing me, holds me up with hands far stronger than myself and lets me enjoy the ride.
Part of Fight Song’s lyrics are below, followed by its full-length video (watch it – TRUST ME). I hope it inspires you to fight for your happiness, and let depression do its own thing. Focus on riding that glorious wave of your life, no matter how many times you get churned and crushed beneath the heavy days. Come back up for air, then paddle out again. Every single surfer who goes out to meet the waves each day eventually gets his glorious moment. You will too.
Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion
And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?
This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me
Author: Chris Bertish
Published by Zebra Press
Price: Approx R230 (depending on retailer)