(Video link HERE.) Mickey Smith is a surf photographer from Cornwall, England whose six minute video of wave riding in the ominous North Sea is a stunning, nail biting, vicarious experience for urbanistas and land-locked couch potatoes. But diving beyond the hair-raising visuals, listening to Smith’s philosophy of life is what makes this clip intriguing.

Smith says, “I never set out to be anything particular, only to live creatively and post the scope of my experience through adventure and passion… I see life in angles, in lines of perspective, a slight turn of the head, the blink of an eye, something someone else might pass by… If I only scrape a living, at least it’s a living worth scraping.”


Hard to imagine passing by – much less surfing- the waves that hit Smith’s familiar Cornwall coast in Porthleven earlier this month when winter storms whomped the seashore, wreaking devastation.

For Smith, this coastal maelstrom is his home turf, and he faces it with delight and gusto. “My heart bleeds Celtic blood, and I’m magnetized by familiar frontiers.”

His remarks got me wondering: How often do we ignore our ‘familiar frontiers’ in favor of the excitement of more exotic locales or dramatic characters, losing ourselves in fantasy films, games, books or music, when in fact all the excitement in life we crave is nearer than our beating heart, were we but to stop, look, and listen?

Franz Kafka advised something similar in The Great Wall of China: Stories and Reflections:

You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

As I thrilled to watch those great, dark waves rolling onto the cliffs of Cornwall and the daring surfers sliding through glassy tubes buried in wild foam and danger, I couldn’t help but recall Kafka’s words and Smith’s narrative, cautioning me to stop, take time, become quiet, in order to notice things in my everyday life that I might otherwise pass by.

Susan Dworski 

via Mobiledia

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One thought on “The Thrilling Adventure of Familiar Frontiers

  1. A reader who teaches writing sent me this wonderful poem by Billy Collins that she uses in her classes.
    It also explores in very succinct, yet evocative language, the ideas expressed in this post:

    In the Room of a Thousand Miles

    I like writing about where I am,

    where I happen to be sitting,

    the humidity or the clouds,

    the scene outside the window–

    a pink tree in bloom,

    a neighbor walking his small, nervous dog.

    And if I am drinking

    a cup of tea at the time

    or a small glass of whiskey,

    I will find a line to put it on.

    My wife hands these poems back to me

    with a sigh.

    She thinks I ought to be opening up

    my aperture to let in

    the wild rhododendrons of Ireland,

    the sun-blanched stadiums of Rome,

    that waterclock in Bruges–

    the world beyond my inkwell.

    I tell her I will try again

    and travel back to my desk

    where the chair is turned to the window.

    I think about the furniture of history.

    I consider the globe, the lights of its cities.

    I visualize a lion rampant on an iron shield,

    a quiet battlefield, a granite monument.

    And then–just between you and me–

    I take a swallow of cold tea

    and in the manner of the ancient Chinese

    pick up my thin pen

    and write down that bird I hear outside,

    the one that sings,


    then sings again.


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