Saturday, January 31, 2009

1/31/09 Asbury Park

The sun is bright.  The sky is an amazing blue.
Frozen sand crunches and squeaks as I walk.
Happy runs playfully exploring sticks, rocks, and
assorted beach stuff.  There isn't a soul around, must be
the cold.  According to "your local weather on the 8's"
it is 21 degrees and with the wind chill factor 11.  I hate
the cold but I must admit there is something special about 

As I walk south along the beach I see the same view of
Convention Hall that Mickey Rourke sees in the "Wrestler".
The same views that appear in Springstein videos.  Something
about a deserted Asbury Park in the winter that is haunting,

After about an hour or so a few other dogs and their owners
appear.  The spell is broken.  Happy and I are both kind of
glad to have the company.  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Look closely

The beach at Domes in Rincon Puerto Rico
is an interesting place.  Sure people know
it for the punchy waves that break there.  It is
also infamous as a break loved by pesky swarms
of body boarders.  On weekends or when the beach
becomes a contest site it transforms into real a cultural

One of my favorite things about the beach however is
something many  people overlook.  The northeastern 
section of beach is home to thousands of hermit crabs. 
You barely notice them at first but when you take the
time to look closely you realize that the beach is filled
with crabs crawling everywhere.  When I first point
them out to visitors they are amazed at the sight.

The world and our lives are filled with little wonderful
things that we can only see when we look closely. All
to often we don;t see what is all around and what makes
being alive on this planet a wonder and a miracle. Try
looking closely at the little things.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saved by the Sea

David Helvarg is an exceptional writer and ocean 
activist.  If you have never seen his books 50 Ways to
Save the Ocean and the Blue Frontier you should check 
them out.  He also masterminded an upcoming conference
called the Blue Vision Summit in Washington DC scheduled
for early March.  Google it and check it out.

David recently wrote an article on entitled
"Saved by the Sea".  It surely resonated with me and I'm sure
it will with many of you as well.  The ocean is such 
important place for so many of us.  It provides peace, solice,
joy, respite, and wonder.  I am drawn to the sea like so
many of you, like so many in history.

It gives us so much we all must do what we can to repay our
debt.  Become an activist who is committed to saving the
seas, return the favor.  How many times have you been
"Saved by the Sea"?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Surfer's Farewell

Have you ever witnessed a memorial paddle out for a
surfer who has died? Have you ever been a participant?
These ceremonies may seem strange to the uninitiated,
somewhat mysterious.

Surfer's gather on the beach huddle together exchanging
nods or brief hellos,  take the flowers or lei's
that someone thoughtfully brought, and after a few moments
all paddle out into the ocean.  Once they have arrived at
a spot out past the lineup, past the breakers, they form a
circle facing inward.  Someone who knew the departed surfer
well usually begins by saying a few words about their friend, others
take their turn.  Words are often touching memories and at times
humorous comments.  Tears mix with smiles.  The paddlers draw in
the circle holding hands as someone  usually begins a chant.  The
flowers are tossed into the center of the circle as a final goodbye
than the assembled surfers head to shore hopefully catching a wave
for their comrade.  There are hoots and hollers and all too soon
the ceremony is over.

Yesterday I took part in such a paddle out.  Alan Wolf was a surfer
I knew only casually.  He always shared his joy and aloha spirit with
everyone in the lineup.  His warmth and connection with the seasonal
community of Rincon was obvious.  That sense of community really
touched me as I looked around the circle.  Faces I've seen for years,
some who I knew as friends or by name, others with whom I'd
exchanged a friendly nod.  

This is, in part, what being a surfer is about.  Being part of 
a community,sharing a love of  a place and a of a lifestyle that
binds us together.  This is what can and should be an example
to us all.  We are all part of a much larger community, all share 
a planet.  We are all in this together for a short while.  To
paraphrase or quote Gandhi - be the change you want to
see in the world.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

universal unconsciousness

Today was the first day of an Alberta Clipper cold
front.  For those who (unlike most surfers) are not
devotees of the Weather Channel, and who can't rattle
off the first and last names of at least 8 on air meteorologists,
an Alberta Clipper is a fast moving cold front coming 
from the Arctic region that sends strong NW winds and frigid 
temperatures into the central and eastern US.  When I
say cold I mean cold,  high temperatures under 20 degrees and
wind chills around zero.  Nasty, bone chilling, cold winter 

No surprise that today my phone began to ring.  Friends asking
if I was heading to Puerto Rico anytime soon.  Each of the
callers, none of whom knew each other, all had the same
thoughts in mind.  Alberta Clippers, more times than not, make for
the kind of swells that light up PR.  My callers I'll bet all had the
same sequence of thoughts that went something like this - " a big
cold front... PR should be good... it's after the holidays and fares might
be cheap... it's too cold to do anything here... I'd love to get away and
score some warm water surf... spring and warmer water
are a long way away... I really hate 5 mils...let me get out of here and go
surf".  Amazing how so many people can share the same thoughts.  Is that
what George Orwell called "group think" or what Carl Jung called the 
"universal unconscious"? Might it be an example of "great minds thinking alike"?

 Na...probably not...surfers in cold climates are all the same. Sometimes
not so original at all.  I'm outta here on Friday.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Sustainability Paradox

I love visual models that help us understand theoretical constructs
or ideas.  I actually spent quite a few years of my professional life
helping refine a model of the coping process.  
Models  can help us organize and understand things better.

I recently came across a model that, for me, clearly illustrated the
problem we have gotten into as a species living on this wonderful
planet.  We've all seen  3 ring overlapping circles - the 3 ring signs.
Oft times they are used to show how things overlap or share
certain characteristics.  Well, imagine 3 circles labeled environment,
economy and health.  In the center of the 3 is the smallest area where
the circles intersect.  That area depicts sustainability for the economy,
for the environment, and for the health of our species.  

Looking at things this way helps us see how often
what might be good for the economy (making the 2.5 million 
plastic bottles we in the US use per hour) might actually not be good
for the environment, or for our health and well being. It also
shows how what might be good for the environment(conserving
finite resources) might not be good for the economy. We can also
see that what is good for the economy and/or environment might not
enhance our sense of well being or our lifestyles (living in bigger houses
or not having a waterview)

The sustainability of our oceans. our planet, and our health
depends on that small area of intersect.  In a simple way it's
like the intersect of the wind, tide, and swell that we rely on for
those epic sessions

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Lucky Guy

I'm a very lucky guy.  It may sound trite but as the
t-shirts, hats, and posters say "Life is good".  Every now 
and then you have a day that reminds you just how
grateful you should be.  Yesterday was that kind a day for me.

It began with my usual morning walk along the beach with
my dog Happy  A clear winter day with perfect (for dreaming)
6 inch waves. Oh well, no surf.  It wasn't really even that cold 
thanks to Patagonia caplene base layers and a light wind.  Someone I 
barely know, a fellow dog walker and trash gatherer,
wished me a happy birthday.  How he knew it was my
birthday remains a mystery to me.  Sure was a pleasant and
kind surprise!  Next came the phone calls
from family and friends wishing me well. The calls warmed 
my heart,  let me know that I am connected and cared about.

After seeing a few patients in the office, always a grounding
experience, I took my 91 year old mother for a walk on the
boardwalk.  Sure was nice to get her out of her apartment for a bit.
Cold winters can be tough on a dependent 91 year old.
They can keep you indoors and kind of alone here at
the Jersey Shore.  That's not a healthy thing.  As mom and I
walked all I could do was think about how happy I am
that she is still here, still relatively healthy, still able to go for a walk.

The early evening brought more treats.  Steve Mullen, the
founder of the South Jersey Chapter of Surfrider, and
a really good photographer ( was
being featured at a new art gallery in Asbury Park.  A number of 
friends showed up to check out Steve's work and enjoy the opportunity
to spend some time together.  One couple, having just returned from
PR,  was filled with stories about their trip.  Another dear friend
gave me a big birthday bear hug, a card that plays "Wipeout" when
you open it, a gift certificate to my local surf shop, and a Cuban cigar!

After the gallery it was off to dinner with my wife, my kids, 
their spouses, and my grandchildren.  How great is that.  I'm a lucky
guy.  I'm blessed with good friends, a great wife and family, and
my health.  It doesn't get much better than that! If you look at it
the right way I'll bet you are lucky too.