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"The gold--or quicksilver--for which we are all panning lasts only a second, or a few seconds, but it is buried beneath years of longing. Every wave that is caught has a history, extending both outside and inside ourselves. Outside, its history reaches over the horizon to some distant weather event--the fact of a storm in the Southern Ocean setting off a chain of natural events that delivers a wave for me five days later in Sydney is still something I find, frankly, miraculous; a gift from heaven.

Inside myself the layers of history behind a wave are even more important, because whenever I start paddling in front of that green wall of water, hoping I have timed my line so that I will arrive at the exact point and angle to maximise my speed and stability on take-off, I hold within me the years of having admired surfers before I did it myself; the defiance of doubt that such a complex act, balancing on a moving fibreglass board upon a moving, shifting shape of a liquid substance is possible at all; the years of practice and frustration; the aches and injuries; the disappointment of so many crap or crowded days; the clashes and intimidation from tougher surfers--all of this lies behind me as I paddle for this wave," - Malcolm Knox, Intelligent Life.

(Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty.)

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