Keeping the Soul Ajar

“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”

Emily Dickenson

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Surfing instructor, Eric, launches Colleen and Conor

My dad and many of yours too would start with, “Why, when I was a boy…”  to reminisce through his sepia-hazed childhood. Yeah, the snow was deeper, the walk to school steeper but the simple life of fun outdoors was sooo sweet, he’d recall.

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Surfer school students, Colleen, 15 and Conor, 12

I feel a bit of the same played prefice coming into my own thoughts these days but seldom utter them. Yes, more attention is paid to Wi Fi than I paid to Hi Fi. But when I see the whole picture, “kids today”, (that trite term again), have their souls “ajar” to a plethora of ecstatic experiences far greater than did my humble soul.

I played street games of punch ball and stick ball, rolled the streets with metal-wheeled roller skates, (if I could find the damned skate key) shot marbles till my thumb hurt from ( undiagnosed) carpal tunnel. And I had to look up “carpal tunnel” and “plethora” in a dusty dictionary or dated Funk and Wagnall encyclopedia.

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Surfer Girl Colleen makes her first try

My grandkids play organized sports to fit any season. They play many musical instruments, they ski. They take courses in high school that were only available to college students in the past. One of them, Conor, took his first flying lesson at age 11.

Yes, he soared high above the Fire Island Light House. The same place where my greatest feat was on my feet. I photo’d that lighthouse, far in the past and far, far, below.

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A few minutes later and she’s shooting the curl

This week, not content to surf the internet and plumb the depths of human knowledge, they began to surf the surf for another ecstatic experience.

Yes, they took their first surfing lessons right here in good ol’ Long Beach, City by the Sea’s Skudin Surf School. And yes, I recorded the event.

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Surfer dude Conor

As you know I’m a lover of sea stuff, from swells to shells and to see these young people become one with it all is to be a part of it myself.

Eric was their surfing instructor and a fine job he did. He gave them preliminary instructions on the beach then took them into the surf for their first try to ride the board in the gentle seas.

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A surfer grin that tells the tale

The results astonished me. In just minutes they were up and riding, faces lit up, smiles spread as wide as a dolphin’s.

A couple of dolphins did make their appearance while they were in the surf. But ya know, their dorsal fins are studied with laser focus when it’s your kids or grandkids in the water with them. But yes, they were dolphins. Amen.

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Eric Fichtelman, a fine surfing instructor

So in the hour and fifteen minutes of surf schooling from 1:30 to 2:45 the kids were ready to rent. We rented boards for an hour more from three to four of solo surfing. And if you ask me they were almost ready to start giving lessons themselves by 4:00 p.m.

Of course, as their mom and dad know, it’s all about balance. Balance on the board as well as in life. Balance between time in front of a computer and time outdoors. All the while keeping the soul ajar to let in new life-stuff and… “welcome the ecstatic experience.”

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“…and the surfers home from the sea” apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson.

A 36 second quick-clip. Surfing solo after one hour of lessons:

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Grandpa and new surfers. Photo credit, their mom, Kathleen

Be well,

10 replies »

  1. Awesome! Kids are such quick learners. The world is their oyster, they just have to be told that there are oysters for the taking.
    Surfing is on my bucket list. Someday…


  2. Yes, their smiles do tell the story. They get so much out of a life rich with new experiences. And yes, I will “keep ’em coming.” I have to focus on this good stuff amidst the world’s troubles. Thanks for the kind words.


  3. That was so sweet! Your descriptive words were great, but I have to say, the smiles on the kids’ faces, tell the whole story! 😉 Keep ’em coming!


  4. Thanks, Tony. It’s a pleasure to have them here and to record events like that.You turn around and they are grown with kids of their own. Got to seize the moment.Live each day.Thanks again.
    Be well,


  5. great story, thank for sharing, what a wonderful life these young kids have, you are a wonderful role model for them.


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