Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seal on the beach

This morning there was a seal on the beach
sunning itself. Not a usual site here on the Jersey Shore
but one we see every year when it gets cold. Sure made
the dogs curious! I guess the seal is but one more
reminder that winter is most definitely upon us.

Walking through snow to get to the beach is another
sure sign of winter. No subtle hint there. If you are not
from the northeast I'd wager that you've never seen
snow on a beach. You just might want to put it on your to
do list. There is an odd beauty in seeing ocean, sand,
snow, and ice caking the jetty rocks.

A winter beach is a quite special place not usually as cold
as the thermometer would suggest. Don't get me wrong,
I hate winter, I hate cold, and I hate snow but it's my
reality for now. A friend of mine wrote on his facebook page
that he was cross-country skiing on the beach today. He too
is no real fan of winter but as he wrote "it's what we have now
so might as well enjoy it". What a great life philosophy! What
great advice. That seal sure seemed to be enjoying the solitude,
and the sun this morning, guess it too was making the most of the day.
Are you?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thanks Buddha

Yesterday was a sad day for my close knit band of
dog walking surfers. Buddha, one of the pack, lost
his battle with cancer and his time with us here came
to an end. He'll be missed.

I got a very touching email from one of Buddha's
owners, who happens to be one of the forty something
surf girls. "So much came into my life....thanks to
Buddha" she wrote. Oddly enough it thanks to Buddha
that she became a surfer. Being at the beach every day,
hanging out, and talking with surfers seemed to spark
her interest in surfing, put her in touch with the rhythms
of the ocean. I dare say if it weren't for Buddha's love of
the ocean and the connections forged with those who
shared that love, we'd have one less surf stoked surf girl.

There are those who say that when we need guidance or
help a teacher appears. I guess Buddha was a teacher of
sorts. One of the fortysomething surf girls is a surfer
led into the surf by a wonderful dog. Wonder who the next
teacher will be and what lessons are in store for us?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Motivation, Fear, and the Eddie

What motivates us to do the things we do?
What pushes us beyond what would normally be
expected? I couldn't help but wonder about these
questions as I watched surfers take on the massive
waves during contest held in honor of
Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu
the other day.

The "Eddie" is a special event. In order for contest
director George Downing to allow the contest to begin
the waves must be giant, 25 feet or higher. In the
25 years since its' inception the "Eddie" has only been
run a handful of times. It is a contest like no other.
Simply being selected as a participant or alternate is a
great honor. Surfers capable of, and motivated to paddle in
and ride waves of such enormous size are a breed apart. These
surfers push themselves over the edge of mountains when
most other mortals would be paddling in the opposite direction to
avoid even the possibility of having to ride such waves. What
makes them do it?

Giant waves can and have killed people. Riding a wave into the
giant shorebreak at Waimea is life threatening. You'd never
have known if you were watching the feats of Ramon Navarro,
Greg Long, Kelly Slater or some of the others. They seemed almost
casual in their approach. Clyde Aikau at age 60 charged the biggest
set waves risking his life. Why you might ask? Where was their fear?
What happened to that switch in the brain that warns us, tries to
protect us and keep us safe? Were they afraid? If they were afraid
what permitted them to push the fear aside and go? I know that none
felt that they'd do anything other than make the drop, make the wave,
survive the day and celebrate their participation in the "Eddie",
celebrate their participation in one of life's special moments.

Maybe we all need to learn from those who surfed in this years
"Eddie". Perhaps we all need to push the fear aside and celebrate
participating with the knowledge that we too will make it through,
and that it will be a memorable event in our lives.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Drifter (part 3)

Have you ever watched how aggro some people
can become when the surf is good? Seems that they
are trying to get as many set waves
as they can oblivious to others in the line up. I was
witness to just that sort of surfer last week in Puerto
Rico when Maria's got really good. This one guy would paddle
for every set wave, yell others off, and after his ride
paddle back to the point and do the same thing. That aggro attitude
might serve one well in a competition or for others in business,
but I'm not so sure it's a great life strategy.

Rob Machado, one of the best competitive surfer's in the world
made an insightful comment in his recent movie "The Drifter".
He was in a rather remote village in Indo watching some children
play a game with rocks. They'd toss a rock up in the air and while
it was airborne attempt to pick up other rocks, kind of like the game
of jacks. One child would toss than pass the rock to another.
"I couldn't really figure out how you win" Machado commented.
"Maybe you just play and that's good enough".

I love the idea of having fun and playing. You might try it in the
lineup and in your life. You can still strive to do well, strive to achieve
or even win but as you do so remember "maybe you just play and that's
good enough".