An object in motion remains in motion unless acted on by an outside force that causes it to change. Waves are perfect examples of this. I don't mean the WAVEs of WWII, though they are also an example as they began their service then and through evolution, integration, and upgrades have become a part of military life. This is but a ripple effect of what I mean.
Waves in the ocean rise and fall depending on their proximity to land. A tsunami created by an earthquake may barely raise an ocean-going vessel an inch yet be several feet high when their proximity to the bottom of the ocean decreases and they reach the shore. Once the shore, an opposing force that changes the direction of the wave, is met, the wave returns to where it came if not whence. Depending on the power and intensity of the wave it may take more interaction with the opposing force to stop and turn around. At that point it has itself lost some of its intensity. The wave, properly admonished, returns to the sea where the vastness of the ocean proceeds to further erode its strength.
Until, one day, it again meets the shore. An opposite shore this time, yet still an opposing force. A force that changes the wave's direction yet again. The next time you stand on the beach and see a wave come ashore recall that it may have once been a giant.
Simple waves make simple harmonic motion. And at times men can be in tuned with that simple harmonic motion. As the wave comes across a reef, or a sand bar, or any number of other obstacles it rises out of the water. It rises above its surroundings. It becomes a wave worth riding.
Centuries ago someone devised a board that would enable man to feel the power, ride the lightning, experience the thrill of being one with the wave. It isn't just a desire of man to surf, the surf demands it. The wave wants to be ridden. The wave wants to be experienced in all its intensity, its power, its joy.
Some waves become a pipeline. Crashing over itself making a tunnel of water. Many times I have watched surfers ride the pipeline and many times I have seen them wipe out. But on that rare occasion when the man, the board, and the wave become so in tuned with one another's harmonic frequency, the surfer finds the slot, the spot, and the line that allows the surfer to shoot from the end of the tube and back into the open air. It is a scene of immense power, that stirs the heart, even if you have never surfed before. I know because I have never surfed the ocean, or any body of water and yet felt the thrill of seeing the emergence.
When someone finds that sweet spot and perfect line the poetry and grandiose choreography of the wave starting to win, no way for the surfer to emerge, certain failure in the face of overwhelming odds, and then from the like a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory with a spurt of unseen speed and grace it happens. You might think you'd see the board first, a precursor to what is going to come along, but you don't. Ever fiber knows that any second you will see the wipeout of a lifetime instead the surfer, one with the board and wave, appears and escapes the inevitable fiasco with a nonchalance that screams that failure was never an option, the furthest thing from his mind.
It's all possible because of the danger, and the proximity to the bottom. You can only surf in the shallower water near the shore. The closer in, the higher the wave. The more intense the wave. The riskier the wave. The more phenomenal the end scene as the surfer shoots successfully out of the wave. The surfer wants it. The wave wants it.
At every point there is a moment of truth when neither knows which will win. But the wave goes on. As does the surfer.
Respect comes in knowing you're not as big as the wave. It also comes from being bigger than the wave. It isn't about the respect, it's about the journey.