WELCOME TO THE BEATING HEART OF YOUR ADDICTION
WE ARE THE SPIT
THE TRADE WINDS
THE HOWLING GALE
WE ARE BACKWASH
An Excerpt from Issue 2...
Engineers are missing the point; my tent makes me happier than a house. I’m 14 months into the longest time I have spent in one place since I was fifteen- a virgin, a spotty white kid from Cornwall. I thought it would be boring, but fuck me, it’s the most challenging time of my life. Everything I thought I knew about myself is being smashed to smithereens. I sailed a boat around the world backwards but that’s a piece of cake compared to this. I always thought that staying at home was the easy option; that it took commitment, character and balls to go explore.
About 5 months ago (8 months in) I moved out of a cosy little farm house I was living in with my now ex-girlfriend and two best friends, a few kilometres away from the coast. I realised that I wanted to live in a tent outside and really dive into nature as much as I could. I wanted to watch the trees I had recently planted grow taller each day. I wanted to wash with a watering can. I didn't want to work any more to pay the rent or to fill the heating tanks with oil. This shit was frightening because I realised that’s how I wanted to entertain myself. I don’t want a trip to Aruba or Fuerteventura anymore, so I stopped moving. My girlfriend didn’t want the watering can shower or damp nights in the tent and that’s totally fair enough. I don’t blame her, I love her for it and not coming on my mad mission into the Irish winter in a canvas tent.
The first few months of being in the tent I learnt what dogs are for. Up until then, bedtime meant I would get up whistle the dogs and kick them out into the cold night to go and make their beds in the shed. But March in a tent comes and you want all the heat you can get. The dogs no longer get the boot. I suppose that like all the bastard things I have learnt over the past 14 months, it’s pretty damn simple. Why the fuck would you bestow a living creature to live it’s entire life by your side, feed, house and care for it when essentially all you are doing is entertaining yourself? It’s just a pat on the head and it makes you smile.
My partner and I, we separated because of the mad look in my eye when I said I wanted all this and I think she knew there was no end to it. Then it got really hard, because for the first time in 15 years I didn’t bolt after shit got heavy or boring. So many times over the years when I realised I wasn’t totally stoked in a place I would hit the internet and bugger off on a one way ticket. So many cheap tickets to Fuerteventura or Funchal, Bali or W.A. Each time slotting back in with my local friends who, because they only ever knew me for up to 6 months at a time, thought I was a total legend. I would cruise back in soft and fresh, never really putting any of my shit on them. Roll in with a few tales from overseas, a new quiver and an understanding attitude. Now my friends are the first people to know me more than 14 months since my mother and schooltime friends. These guys have met the 14 month Matt that acts like a 14 month twat. Lucky for me they seem okay with it, but who knows what the 15 month Matt will be? Sure, I have no fucking clue. Those continents that held my attention for so long, those lonely nights at sea that in some ways were just a huge distraction. Entertaining me, holding my thoughts so I didn't have to delve in a little deeper; into the real shit in the gory corner of your stomach where the darkness hides.
About five years ago whilst I was visiting Ireland, Mickey Smith introduced me to a physiotherapist; a ninja-yoga-guru who could fix a bust knee or back but more importantly get a hold of your mind and help you liberate yourself. The first few times I saw him he fixed my ribs and at the end of the session he did this crazy cranial stuff to the back of my neck then asked me how I was. I broke down and was in bits, “I’m exhausted” I said, blubbering, bottom lip all over the place. “What are you tired of?” he asked. “Nothing.” I replied. My ego had kicked back in, protecting me from the vulnerability and I was fine again. He said it was okay, he didn't need to know but advised me to breathe into that place and say hello, welcome that part of me as a friend.
Over the years I would go back to this ninja and have similar experiences however never going to the depths. But recently by staying put, I have gone down a rabbit hole; it’s too tight and I can’t turn around. The only way is to carry on until I find the other end. The last time I reckon I got close to the bottom of the pit. I don't think I know what’s down there (Well I probably do but I’m not open to letting myself know) but it’s a place that I have never been open to knowing. And just like going to see the physio, these months in the tent are having the same effect. Each night, each evening alone, no sensual pleasures and oh fuck I have to hang out with myself again. Not in apartment in the warmth, eating avocados wondering when to surf again whilst drinking vinoverde. Alone time that is alone.
After working on issue one of Backwash, I got to read Dan Crockett’s article about Vipassana. Kind of knowing how much it would rip me to shreds, I looked into it and committed to a course in the British midlands. I chose this particular one because I heard the outside space was big and you could escape in the trees. Hide from learning about the deep Sankaras that I’d been impressing on myself for 30 years. Shelter in the woodland whilst the December rain let me forget about the 18 hours a day of attempted meditation. More than half of the time I would get lost in a million memories and plans. During my stint two standout things happened. The first, when I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I had excreted everywhere- out of every orifice. I hadn't but in my deep or shadow sleep something had left me. I have no idea what the hell it was, maybe from this lifetime, maybe from five lifetimes ago.
The second was whilst I was wandering in the woods. I found myself walking into an offset area, clambering over old fallen trees into seclusion and there I broke down sobbing. I realised that although I was okay with my parents splitting up, I was very sad for them that they held so much hurt. This had taken 8 days of deep meditation and silence to surface and that was a pretty obvious issue.
Vipassana has had a huge part to play in where I’m at right now, living on a windy hill with some friends that are okay with the 14 month Matt. Like any journey, life is one you become accustomed to; your feet seem to feel the groove. Since some of these hard moments over the past year I seem to have benefited more than I will ever know. My vision is clearer, I can tolerate more and I seem to surf better. Sitting out under The Cliffs, I seem not to be so scared. Recently I surfed Mully for the first time; the daunting feeling of travelling away from my home to surf a big wave now doesn’t seem so bad. I have been picking better waves and don’t go on the don’t go me ones. I am often told that your thirties are the best years of your life; that you finally know yourself and it all becomes simpler. It’s strange in a world that gets harder to understand; so much becomes clearer. Then I think back to being seventeen without a care and how much fun it was, but maybe I just don't remember the worries.
Taken from Issue 2 available here: https://backwa.sh/store/backwash-issue-two
Backwash Issue Two is a surf anthology featuring Japan, the photography of Chris Burkard and Sergio Villalba, Hamish Laing and Woody Gooch. Kalani Lattanzi swims at Nazare, whilst Amy Kotch surfs barrels whilst pregnant and John Peck knee paddles out as he has done since 1958.Purchase