Written by Christopher Dreyer from Pennsylvania State University
Since I was a kid, I was always drawn to the ocean. Boogie boarding or body surfing waves at the Jersey Shore was how I spent 90% of my time on vacation. Naturally, when I found out we were doing a surfing lesson on our 3 day trip to the New South Wales Coast, I was ecstatic. I had taken two surfing lessons before, but was nothing close to a good surfer. I figured there would be no better place to learn again than Australia. Little did I know there was no better school to learn again than Gerringong Surf School.
After two days staying at Merry Beach in Kioloa, our group of 10 drove up to the 7 Mile Beach to get a lesson from instructor Rusty Moran and his son Jordan. They did such a good job of breaking down each step to catching a wave where by the end we were all able to catch waves on our own. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s a lot harder than it looks to stand up and keep your balance. Your feet have to be in just the right spots - not too wide, not too narrow, not too left, and not too right - to be able to maintain your balance, all while keeping your weight forward to not lose the wave, but not too forward to make the board nosedive into the water. You probably get the point.
Our lesson was supposed to be only 2 hours, but Rusty was enjoying it as much as we were so we ended up going a little overtime - fine by me! After the lesson finished up, we all sat on our boards to follow Rusty in gratitude meditation. The first 10 breaths were nothing crazy, just 10 deep breaths in and out, trying to focus on bringing your diaphragm down to fill your stomach as well as your lungs. However, for the second 10 we would think of something, out of our control, that we were grateful for; be it your family, your health, a boyfriend or girlfriend, simply anything you are grateful for in your life. It was my first experience doing meditation, and I could not have imagined a 10 minute session to be so impactful. It gave me such a great perspective on how lucky I am to be living the life I am: to have such a great family, wonderful friends, and the opportunity to study in this beautiful country.
After surfing and meditation we went out to get coffee and ice cream at a local shop. The first one we went to was actually closed, but we ended up going to one of Rusty’s close friend’s shop and it was fantastic. While there, Rusty opened up to us about his life and the path it took that led him to where he is now. After being a professional surfer for a few years, he took his engineering degree and got a job wearing a suit and tie to work every day. He said he was the type of boss where if you came into work without shaving in the morning, he’d send you home - running a real tight ship. After battling through some tougher years in his life, he turned back to surfing and has now been teaching it for over 5 years. The joy he feels from the water and seeing so many happy faces at his lessons is a big contrast from the suit and tie life he had been living for so long. And let me tell you, his happiness is very much contagious. After some tough goodbyes, we had to head back to Wollongong, but it was a perfect end to a truly amazing weekend.