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Wed, June 26

Around the Bluhmin’ Town: Pursuit of ‘perfect wave’ beckons the soul

While visiting San Diego I thought I would spend my time wisely – in pursuit of the “perfect wave.”

That’s right, I’m looking for that surreal phenomenon that has caused many a surfer to “drop out” of the real world, searching the globe for that one breathless wall of water, like none other, that takes you on the ride of your life. After coming back to the same beach year after year and wondering what the “real deal” is about surfing, I think I have finally discovered something here – it’s not the wave, it’s all about the ride.

Who would have guessed that a bunch of surfers with sun-bleached hair, donning wetsuits have figured out the true meaning of life? Surfing might be a metaphor for how we live our lives. It’s not how high, far, or fast you go – it’s that one-heck-of-a-journey that matters. It’s about an ordinary person being able to capture an extraordinary moment while flying with a wave.

The “perfect wave” is a combination of adrenalin, huge tides, timing and luck. The largest wave may not carry you far, unless you are positioned just right. You have to paddle out in front of the wave, get picked up so you can glide over the top and “run with it” until you are flying on water. It also helps to be able to stay on your board. You could be out in the water every day for a week and maybe get one great ride.

While at the beach, I am acutely aware that the younger you are, the faster you can learn how to surf. My grandsons have easily mastered the art of boogey boarding and have graduated to the long boards.

I keep struggling to stand up on the board without immediately falling off, but a grandboy offers this encouragement: “You’re a grandma – don’t worry, it just takes longer.”

Yes, it does.

I have bumped into (literally) quite a few Arizonans while practicing my surfing skills. In fact, the entire Pacific Ocean is filled with “Zonies” (as the locals lovingly call us). However, if you look out farther from the shore and see a group of surfers congregating in their wet suits, carefully selecting which wave to “take on,” chances are these are not casual visitors.

They paddle out too far, too close to the pier, too bold to care whether the lifeguards are out and too early in the morning and too late at night to qualify as recreational surfers.

They are a serious lot, whose quest for the perfect wave is never ending.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with all of us living in the desert. We don’t have an ocean close by! We’re missing out on one of life’s great adventures – finding that special wave. When so much in our world is imperfect, stressful, complicated, busy and hectic, the simplicity of running into the ocean with a board under your arm has got to be good for the soul.

Imagine swimming out to a distant spot, then waiting for that iridescent blue wall of water, concentrating on getting out in front of it and being lifted to new heights as you ride into shore. No worries or harsh reality can reach you when you’ve caught the “perfect wave.”

It’s just you and the roar of the ride.

I am back in Arizona now. No beach in sight. But when I’m particularly hot and tired, I will fix my gaze to the west. I know there’s a huge ocean waiting for me. In the meantime, Dear Readers, let’s make waves and sea life’s beauty.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at


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