Monday, October 9, 2006

Metaphor of surfing

This is an extract from Why Lawyers Should Surf co-authored with Dr Michelle Tempest which is now available on Waterstone's website here or can be ordered from XPL Publishing on 0870 079 8897 (p&p is included). Further extracts can be found here. To see a review of the book in The Independent click here.

As to the title why lawyers should surf, it is hoped that this metaphor will help to illustrate some of the points made in a way which is outside of the lawyer’s day to day experience. Its use has obviously become particularly prevalent in the modern world as a result of its association with computers and internet surfing. However, the connection to surfing, waves and the deep ocean beyond goes far beyond such modern inventions.

The human connection with the ocean is primeval and touches the very depths of our souls. Evolutionists might suggest that it has something to do with the fact that all species originated in the sea. Biblical references might be made to the first paragraph of the Bible which says “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”, to Noah and the great flood, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale and even Jesus himself walking on water. Psychologists on the other hand might suggest that it is due to our time in the womb or the fact perhaps that like the surface of the earth itself we are made mostly of water. As Goethe put it, “All is born of water; all is sustained by water.” In The Book of Waves, Drew Kampion suggested that we are all drawn to the meeting of the land and the ocean because of the release of energy which happens there: “…where ocean wave meets solid ground and gives up its accumulated life force in a powerful expression of consummation”.

It is not to suggest that any of these reasons are necessarily correct, but simply that there is an almost inexplicable connection. Something which you can’t quite put your finger on, yet is utterly fundamental. This connection may underlie the feeling a surfer gets when riding a wave. However, as with the connection with the ocean, the feeling in many ways diminished when one attempts to put it into words. As far back as 1777, canoe surfing was described in an account of the voyages of Captain James Cook in the following way, “I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea”.

Surfing is far more than pleasure. It is a connection with nature, the world, with God. Some might say it is love itself. It is a sense of timelessness, of other worldliness yet at the same time as connected to this world as it is possible to be. Daniel Duane describes it in Caught Inside as “a small occurrence outside the linear march of time”.

In The Four Quartets, T.S.Eliot describes “the still point of the turning world… [w]here past and future are gathered” and it is perhaps only in poetry and the evocation of life’s mysteries that one can approach the essence of surfing with any accuracy. He goes on, “Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance…surrounded / By a grace of sense…In the completion of its partial ecstasy.”


However inexplicable it might be, the harnessing of the ocean and the mighty waves it throws shorewards provides a very powerful metaphor for the harnessing of life and everything that it throws at each one of us. On a more everyday level, it is also a sport which is away from worldly cares and to that extent contrasts with the sometimes stuffy image of the law. It is hoped that this may help to inspire the reader into seeing particular issues from a new perspective. Of course, it might also have the side effect of inspiring the occasional reader into paddling out into the waves themselves.

6 comments:

Beach Bum said...

Less is more

Walrus on Coke said...

This HAS to be an entry for Private Eye's "Pseuds' Corner" ?

Bodybored said...

Nah - must be written under the influence of some mind altering substance - just look at those guys' eyes ....

WHYKIKI 7 said...

OMG these guys JUST can't be surfers - or if they are I ain't sharing a wave (or anything else) with 'em ..... what posers !!!

HOW EMBARASSSSSSING ..............

Anonymous said...

What a feed of shit

John said...

You know you've "made it" when the haters arrive.

Continued success.