Sunday, July 16, 2006

Heat Wave.

I know that complaining about the weather in San Diego is like complaining about having too much money and too much sex. But all things are relative, and this includes weather.

For two weeks every year, San Diego gets hit by a combination of intolerable heat and humidity that makes it feel like Cambodia. All I have to combat this is a small AC wall unit located in my living room. It has a range of three feet. To feel its effect you need to sit on top of it naked.

Yesterday was unbearable. Since there was no way that the limited range of my AC would be felt in the bedroom, I had to reconfigure things. I have a hallway door that dissects my living room from the two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I closed it and sought refuge in my main room. Essentially my life resembled that of a poor college student. I lived in a single room and slept on the couch.

I also created an arrangement with the fans to maximize the flow of cold air. I knew it was an effective scheme when NASA came over to test the aerodynamics of its rockets. I essentially slept in a wind tunnel.

To tackle the heat today I drove to the beach and went surfing.

I've developed a weekly ritual where I spend every Thursday night after work at Guava Beach Bar and Grill in Mission Beach. They have great food, great deals, and it provides a friendly and casual vibe. I arrive armed with journal and pen. After I eat I scoot over a block and walk along the boardwalk. It's a great way to end the day. A friend recently talked about the southern tip of Mission Beach. I had never been. When I went to Guava Beach this past Thursday, I walked from there to the southern tip of MB. It made for a rather lengthy walk – 3.5 miles round trip – but my journey was beautiful as it was accompanied by the setting sun, and led me to the serene and quaint destination. The southern tip of Mission Beach borders the San Diego River. Sail boats pass through (there is a visual aspect about sail boats that I enjoy). There's a grass park that overlooks the ocean and hovers like an island in the middle of the beach. This provides a welcome sanctuary as I hate sand. Well, hate may be a strong word. Let's just say that I have an adversarial relationship with it. There is also a wooden lifeguard tower that I have become infatuated with. It looks rickety and haphazard – like something you'd see on some isolated tropical beach. I loved this place.

This is one of the great things about San Diego. Its locale and geography create so many unique and mysterious places. I lived in San Jose – a large and flat expanse. While it had some good streets, it possessed no mysteries. No hills. No valleys. No nooks. No pockets. Just a bunch of interchangeable avenues. Many cities suffer from this. Not San Diego. It constantly surprises.

I drove to southern Mission Beach this morning, with my surfboard stretching from trunk to passenger seat. I easily found parking and set up residence on the beach in front of my beloved lifeguard tower. I threw on the rash guard, put on the aqua-socks, and strapped the leash to my left ankle. Into the water I went.

A day earlier I had talked to a friend who was an avid surfer. He said that the most painful thing he had experienced was a sting from a stingray. Right now they are ubiquitous on San Diego beaches due to the warm water and breeding season. Amber had seen some when we went surfing a few weekends ago at La Jolla Shores. I made sure to shuffle my feet when I walked.

I read an interview with professional poker players. They were asked the biggest mistake that novice poker players made. Almost unanimously they said that beginners play too many hands. It's hard for a newbie to pick his or her spots. They want to get involved in the excitement of each hand. It's difficult to sit back and watch.

I think that the same phenomenon affects beginning surfers as well. I want to catch every wave. But the real art is identifying the perfect wave and taking it, while letting the others pass by. Patience pays off. Not taking it is just as important as taking it. It's not only a good strategy to adopt in surfing, but to apply to my life as well. There is something to be said for enjoying the serene moments between perfect waves.

I realized the power of this because by sheer coincidence I caught the perfect wave and it made for a beautiful ride. I selected other waves that were sub par, and I paddled the same as I did on the perfect wave, but it simply rolled past me or fizzled prematurely. Patience pays off. The key is enjoying the time between those ideal waves.

It is possible that I am delving into metaphor.

After surfing, I sought refuge on the green, grassy park. I did a sketch of the quirky lifeguard tower. After completing the ink drawing, I dipped inside my backpack to fetch my colored pencils. I then realized that I had forgotten to bring them. Desperately wanting color, I went with watercolors even though this paper reacted poorly to them.

There is something so rewarding for me personally to drawing a scene live. I don't do it often enough, but when I do, it locks that moment and experience in my memory so potently.

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