Since moving down to Venice Beach a few weeks ago, I’ve taken to surfing once or twice a week (when in Rome!).
I’m still pretty terrible, but I almost prefer it that way— one of the fun parts of learning a new skill that doesn’t come easily is that you’re forced to break down the activity into its core essentials and examine everything you’re doing.
One of the things that stood out to me as I was splashing around in the water, struggling to keep up with my surf instructor and paddle out against the current, was how much energy I was expending getting out there. While I was paddling like a madman, working heroically to move an inch forward in the water, the seasoned surfers around me glided smoothly out. By the time I made it out to catch even one wave, I was exhausted and ready to call it a day.
Instead of smooth, powerful strokes through the water, I was chopping around on the surface, getting almost no surface area when paddling— essentially wasting every stroke. Not only had that superfluous, wasted motion not gotten me anywhere— it had tired me out and kept me from achieving my goal— getting out repeatedly to catch waves.
So the key idea I’ve gotten from surfing so far is the value of efficiency in motion— the application of the right kind of effort/motion towards maximal output. Cut out the excess and do just what is necessary, with the right form— keep it simple and do it well.
Reminded me of something my friend Kortina wrote a couple of years ago: ""concise, clear expression of an idea" is pretty much my definition of good anything and applies not only to writing, but also film, objects, tools, clothing, even movements."