Mit Rilelm walked slowly onto the beach, the evening sun sparkling off the rivulets of water flowing down his body as he came out of the ocean. It has been another good surfing day here on Moonbeam beach. He made his way over to the makeshift pavilion a short distance from the sand, where his friend Harry was already opening a can of beer from the cooler box that they had brought along for the afternoon. Harry saw him through his shades, grinned, and tossed him a can of Bud Light. Mit popped the can open, and took a sip. Beer always felt great after a couple of hours out on the water.
Sitting down on the bench, Mit looked out over the water. A couple of surfers were still out there, trying to catch a couple more waves, but most people were either heading back up to shore, or were already done for the day and relaxing by the beach, as he and Harry were. Mit was relatively new to surfing: He only started surfing a couple of years ago, when he moved out here to Santinicen. Despite this, he was fast establishing a reputation here on Moonbeam beach (and on the surrounding beaches as well) as a surfing prodigy. His tube-riding skills had become legendary here and on the other beaches in the area. As a writer for a local surfer’s newsletter recently wrote, “Rilelm has this uncanny, almost supernatural ability to find himself at just the right spot in the hollow section of a wave as it peels down the sandbank, riding the wave with an ease and finesse that eludes many veteran surfers. In fact, it is almost misleading to say that he rides the wave; as far as the eye can see, he becomes a living, breathing part of the wave, a tiny black speck of man-water on the body of the wave.”
In a sense, this description of Mit’s surfing is more apt than the writer himself probably realizes. Mit lives for the next big wave. It is only when he is riding a wave that he feels fully alive and… present. When all his senses are engaged in catching the incoming wave and then getting inside the hollow of the wave as quickly and unobtrusively as possible, moving as one with the wave, all thought ceases. There is no anticipation or fear of any abstract future; nor is there any regret over the past. There is only the all-consuming presence of the ocean, as it manifests itself in the wave that looms over and all around him, as it manifests itself in the throbbing heartbeat of water under the surfboard. There is no choice but to be present, to become a living, breathing part of the wave of space-time.
Although he is not fully aware of this, it is this feeling of full presence that Mit lives for. Everything else in his life seems to pale in comparison to the vividness of this quasi-religious experience. In particular, everything that he experiences after an afternoon of surfing seems so lackluster and empty compared to the powerful drama he had just gone through. Everything else just feels so lacking in vibrance that life off the surfboard can sometimes seem almost empty and depressing. In some ways, he feels that his life is like a wave-tossed beach. There are the moments of high drama, of full presence, where nothing matters except the powerful wave that looms directly in front of him. But then, just as suddenly, the wave would recede, leaving only a detritus of emptiness and forlorn futility. And then there is nothing to do but wait for the next wave to come and sweep him back up. But what happens if the waves were to stop coming one day? This is one question he does not want to know the answer to…
The sight of a man walking up the beach in Mit’s direction jolted Mit out of his thoughts. The man looked like he was in his early thirties, probably only a few years older than Mit. He had long blond hair and a goatee, and had the lean muscular build of a surfer. Mit had seen him more than a few times on Moonbeam beach, but had never actually spoken with him. He had observed him on the water a few times. He was an average surfer: He knew what he was doing, but there certainly wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about his control of the surfboard or his ability to read the waves. But still, there was something about this man, something about his presence that caught Mit’s attention. Mit couldn’t quite put his finger on what that something might be. Maybe it had something to do with that expression he always wore on his face. It looked… funny. Not funny in a bad kind of way. Certainly not funny as in “goofy” or “ugly.” But still… funny. He always looked as if he was about to smile at everybody and everything around him, but the smile somehow just managed to stay submerged beneath the contours of his features.