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I had this realization the other day that seems to have given me cause to disagree with Buddha about the meaning of enlightenment.

Skillful Balance
From the time that I first started longboarding, I have been on a quest to find the best spot on my board to maintain perfect balance. I have gotten pretty good at finding it. Now what? Fighting to maintain a stronghold on my balance is a great practice in skill, but it is not artful. It’s like putting primer on a canvas.

Artful Balance
Watching people walk their boards, traversing the waves from top to bottom and back, I’ve come to realize that I am missing the point entirely. The truly exceptional experience is in playing with balance – moving forward and diving faster and faster, then moving to the tail of the board and rising back to the top of the wave, slowing down, and regaining directional control. It is this play that separates an artful surfer from a novice. It is this play, this variety, that is the spice of life.

Glad to Feel
The Buddhist saying “desire is the root of all suffering” may be true. And I liken the state of perfect static balance on the board to the state of not desiring and not suffering. This is an excellent goal for someone who has no control over their board or over their emotions. However, once you can attain the state of not desiring with confidence, that is the point at which you can begin to live life artfully. I believe this is done by practicing riding life in orbit, cycling between the nose and the tail, leaning in and out, dancing.

We’ve been given the great gift of feeling. I believe that the greatest way to honor this gift is to love it and to appreciate it and to live it as a calligrapher applies ink to parchment, with respect, grace, and confidence.

Easier Said Than Done
So what do I do to lose balance gracefully? I don’t know. At this point, my best guess is to step forward. To fall into the wave. To desire. There will be a change. You will have to step back. You will experience joy and suffering. With a small desire there will be small movements. When you get really good, you will be able to set your sites on desires that start you dancing across your board, across the wave, through life, and if you are really good, your dance will continue in the hearts and minds of many surfers to come.


Question: Who do you know that has mastered Artful Balance? How so?