For all intents and purposes Christmas day begins on the eastern end of Lyall Bay Beach. It’s not yet 7am but the stretched out summer day is already under way. The water is clear. The sky is clear. The wind is light. The surf is flat. The wave models were wrong. Out on the sand a couple of early risers are walking their dogs. In my car I’m chewing glumly over the absence of waves. No surf, I’m short of sleep, and my arthritic aches are more severe than usual. Each of these things combining to add to my gloom. Slightly teary (the arthritis does that to me) and topped up with self-doubt, I’m trying to calculate my options. I could go for a swim or a paddle. But neither really seem worth the discomfort of contorting myself into my wetsuit for. So the real choice is going home and keeping mum company while she cooks, or chasing the remnants of the northwest wind swell on the west coast.
I’m good at doubting myself. So I make the decision to head west several times only to have it repealed by something akin to guilt. What sort of man chases waves on Christmas morning? The empty ocean in front of you is a sign, you should go home. It’s at least 10 dollars petrol extra if you go to the west coast. Think about how much money you’ve spent already. Think about the CO2 emissions. Anyhow, the tide’s wrong up there. And you’ll be late home.
Fortunately I’m even better at ignoring my doubts, eventually, once they’ve kicked me around a bit. And so, next I know, I’m speeding along an almost empty SH1 and into an empty car park at Titahi Bay.
The tide’s wrong. But the swell’s there. Slow sloping lefts peeling across the bay. Not bad for an arthritic old guy on a longboard. Barely pausing to look I’m shoving protesting limbs into neoprene. Hoping that my joints will actually let me get to my feet when I’m out there.
Of course they did. Slow and sore, sure. But able to get there in the end. In time to make it down the line.
Wave after wave, after wave. And then I’m driving home, endorphins or whatever they are, conspiring with replayed rides, ridding me of aches and doubts. And the morning’s impossibly nice. Like Christmas in Wellington never is. Still and sunny.
As I drive choral music plays on the radio. And I wonder about that. Enjoying it. Agnostic. The sound is sweet – devine. First I figure maybe it really is evidence of god. Could something so beautiful really arise by chance? Could it? In the end I decide it could. Which seems forlorn in a way. All that effort and beauty misdirected. All those appeals unheard. Eventually, though, I conclude, cheery again, that, no, any god that could create something as beautiful as this music deserves some credit. It’s quite an achievement — especially if you don’t exist.