Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Myth and Surfing
I love myth. It's what our culture is built upon. So much of what we experience in life has parallels in mythology, one could say that those ancient stories have a direct impact on our very perception of "living." If you haven't read Joseph Campbell's "Power of Myth" or seen the PBS special that it was based on, I highly recommend it.
Campbell broke down myths that occur in culture into what he called "The Hero Cycle": a course of events that occur as a rite of initiation in every myth, pinpointing the need for mentors, villains, elixirs and jesters along the way.
I can't think of anywhere this cycle is illustrated better that surfing in Oregon. As a surfer here, you're always embarking on new quests and adventures, facing real and perceived obstacles and villains. Sharks, rips, sneaker sets, snakes, rocks, angry locals, freezing water. You hear about all of these potentially fateful entanglements prior to making the decision to go on your adventure, and they provide a barrier to entry that filters out the weak of heart. Without these, surfing wouldn't be the quest we all love.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that as much as I hate localism, it has it's place in the story of Oregon surfing. It can't be easy to be a regulator, always looking over your shoulder, harbouring a constant paranoia, walking with heaviness in your heart.
Last night I surfed until the moon and stars were the only light in the sky. I had a lot of time to think, to rinse away anger, to find the holy grail that isn't an actual object, but a simple, basic joy in that sacred place we call the soul.
Then, after paddling in, changing in the dark, marveling at the warm breeze that came through the pines, I enjoyed an elixir (or two) with a close friend and remembered what this is all about. I think Campbell would have smiled.
Horse Feathers - Falling Through the Roof