I am most definitely thankful for the time I spent traveling! Photo by B​en Bugden​/ https://benbugden.com/​ shot in Byron Bay, Australia.

Apparently, my birthday isn’t the only national holiday this week, and there’s some other big celebration called Thanksgiving. As we all know, and as its name so generously explains, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the aspects of our life for which we are thankful. It goes without saying that I am beyond thankful for my friends, my family, and my health. I am filled with gratitude for the opportunities that I have been granted in life. As an added little something this year, I’ve taken my own approach to the tradition, and have compiled a list of life’s little victories that surfers can be thankful for!

1. Uncrowded Lineups
An empty peak is a rare sight these days, but when it happens, I thank my lucky stars. I’ve noticed that most surf spots have become even more crowded in the past year, and it can be frustratingly difficult to catch waves at the local watering hole. In the month I’ve been home, there have been a few sessions that I’ve had the good fortune of surfing one of my favorite spots with just a couple of the ever-present fixtures. Instead of complaining about how busy the water has become, I just try to appreciate the special, slower moments.

2. Parking Space on a Holiday
Picture this: You pack up the car with boards, snacks, and the gang. You drive down to the beach, ready for a fun-filled day in the sunshine. Then, just as you approach the parking lot, you notice the cars filling every single space, with plenty more circling like vultures - looks like the beach day is delayed. More often than not, this is the scene that greets Californians hoping to surf in summer, on a holiday, or even just an extra nice weekend mid-winter. However, there are occasions in which you luck out, and you slide right into a VIP parking space at Cardiff Reef. Maybe little Bobby got too sunburnt and forced the whole fam to go home, or maybe the surf just wasn’t up to Frank’s standards, but who cares, you got their spot! Of course, this is an uncommon experience, but when it happens, I for one, am extremely grateful.

3. A Dry Wetsuit
Putting on a freezing, wet wetsuit is one of the most dreaded components to surfing in wintertime. We’ve all made the mistake of forgetting the dripping, sandy wetsuit in our cars, left behind to fester (and turn to solid ice) overnight. On the other hand, how great is it when we’ve rinsed and hung out our suits? Perfectly dry and clean, ready for action. But, we often do not acknowledge these instances. Next time you get to put on a perfectly dry steamer, make a little effort to treasure the moment.

4. Losing Your Board (but nothing happens!)
This one’s for my fellow loggers out there. There is nothing like panicking in the middle of the ocean as your board continues to ghost ride a wave without you. While most people who choose to ride longboards without leashes generally do not lose their boards, accidents occur, and we’ve all seen brand new logs smashed beyond the point of no return against the rocks at high tide. Sometimes, we get lucky, and the board sits in some strange mysto-zone, waiting patiently to reunite with its master. Other times, kind strangers save the day, grabbing the board as it speeds past their head. Perhaps, there is a cycle of karma going around, and each time you grab a board, it gives you one board rescue point. Whether or not I believe in divine intervention is still up for debate, but I sure have had some near-misses where I am thanking the surf gods that my precious single fin has remained intact.

5. Surfing
Bottom line, we are extremely lucky to be individuals on this planet who get to surf, and to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with surfing. We live by the beach, we get to play in the ocean, and we get to have a special bond with nature that very few sports allow. I know that surfing can cause anger, and that those who surf have problems just like everyone else, but this Thanksgiving, I want to give an extra thank you to the activity that has made me the person that I am.