Monday, September 26, 2011


What a wonderful morning, in fact it was a pretty
wonderful weekend. I got to surf a fish, longboard and
SUP, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy a
nice surf related event. I am very grateful to be able
to enjoy life.

Being grateful has the power to make a difference. A week
or so ago I had a big gap in my work schedule and headed out
for a surf. After being in what was pretty ordinary surf for
a while the wind went offshore and the swell, courtesy of
a hurricane, began to grow. Each set was bigger than the one
before. I was riding my shortboard and having a blast, then
I looked at my watch. Bummer, I thought, just as the waves
are getting really good I have to go back to work. I'm sure you've
been there, ready to be frustrated and a little mad about
leaving pumping surf. That's when it hit me. Be grateful that
you were able to surf at all I thought. Be grateful not angry.
My mood and outlook changed instantly.

Being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what
you don't have or missed out on is a strategy that instantly
creates peace. Try it. Enjoy the wave you ride rather then the
set wave you missed. Enjoy the time you spent in the water
rather than be frustrated at having to leave. Give it a shot!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Entitlement and greed

Yesterday I witnessed yet another step in what has become
a steady march to ruin good things here at the Jersey Shore.
Telephone poles were strategically placed in the sand and dirt
parking lot at the beach. Looks like the city is about to make
people pay for parking in the lot. Only a month ago the city installed
parking meters on the street where, for decades, surfers and fishermen
have parked for free. The lot and the spots aren't really near
anything but the ocean and jetty. No bathrooms, no porto johns, or
places to eat. Just a beach and a jetty.

Perhaps the lot and beach had become too popular, used by too many
people for the city to ignore. One of the few places on the Jersey Shore
where you could pull your car up, San Onofre style, check the surf,
hang out and enjoy. True it made the surf a bit more crowded, but
it provided a nice vibe. Guess the city didn't see it that way, they
probably see dollar signs. $10 bucks a car maybe 100 cars with
some turnover, a real cash cow. After all the city needs money.
The guy who has, for years, run his surf school from the lot
told me that the city now demands he pay them $500 for a permit.
Nice... pay to park, pay a mercantile permit, pay a beach badge fee
for eachstudent, where will it end.

Add to the mix the current controversy about beach access here in NJ.
The wealthy towns and beach front homeowners don't want us rif raf
coming to and using "their" beaches. They've established restrictive
parking regulations, hidden and well disguised access points, put up
illegal signs, and clearly don't want us there. Oh but wait...they do
want us to pay to protect their property by renourishing the beach in
front of their homes.

The state wants to abrogate it's responsibility to establish regulations
thatwould force towns to provide well defined, reasonable access.
Our governor, Chris Christie, wants to let local towns establish access
rules. Let the fox guard the hen house. Hey, he's got a state owned,
secure beach house on Long Beach Island ( that we pay for)and his
brother owns ocean front property in a town that hired private security
to keep people away. He can get to the beach, he and his family can
get to the ocean to fish or surf.

Greed and entitlement seem the enemies of us all. Be it on Wall Street,
in the corporate world, amongst insurance companies, or on the
shoreline. Seems to put a different spin on the "golden rule", something
like "do unto others in a manner as to get yours and to hell with
the rest of them".

Monday, June 20, 2011

Get to know the people in your life

Who surfs at your "local" line-up? Do you know
many of them? I mean do you actually know them,
more than knowing how they surf, what board they
ride or what car drive?

Yesterday, being Father's Day, some people seemed
compelled to talk, write, and think about what they know or
knew about their fathers. I found it interesting to read what
people had to say on facebook about their dad's and the
influence their father's had on their lives. Being a father
and a grandfather that's something I think about often.
Being a son whose dad died when I was 18 added a particular
slant on the whole thing for me. I don't feel that I really got
to know my dad very well and I don't think he really got to
know me either. A shame and loss for us both. Oft times I
wonder what would he think about how I turned out. I would
like to have had a chance to have gotten to know him better too.
Sure I've got memories, an image here, a flash there, a photo,
a reflection on an event or conversation. We both missed out.

Missing out on getting to know people in our lives is a shame.
We've had a few waves lately and, as is becoming more usual,
my local spot was packed. Since the weather
was warm and the waves mellow it seemed that folks
were more into talking and hanging out. More into
getting to know each other. I got a chance to
attach more than names to many of the faces that have
been showing up lately. I met peoples wives
and kids. We talked and got to know each other a bit more.
Odd how when we returned to the line-up the vibe seemed
slightly different, a bit more pleasant. Fewer people surfed
in silence, fewer dropped in on each other.

Get to know the people in your life, the people at your line-up.
Who knows what impact it could have. Might get you a few
more waves, might give you the pleasure of watching someone
else get a wave or have some fun on a wave you've let them have.
Not much downside to getting to know the people you surf the
waves of your life with.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Playing golf with Tiger, shooting hoops with Michael Jordan

The world of sports is filled with superstars. Every sport
has those special gifted and super talented athletes whose skills
and abilities are unrivaled. We watch them on t.v., admire them
from afar, and maybe even get an opportunity to pay for tickets
to see them play in person. That's the way it is. About all we
mortals can do is fantasize about trying trying to hit a ball out
of Yankee Stadium, pairing up for a round of golf with Tiger
Woods, or shooting a few hoops with LeBron. Surfing, on the
other hand, is very very different.

Last night I got a chance to hear Shaun Tomson talk about his
new book, the updated paperback version of The Surfer's Code.
Someone asked him if anyone ever drops in on him. Shaun smiled,
laughed a bit and replied "sure, at Rincon where I live, I get dropped
in on and yelled at all the time." Shaun surfs Rincon just like
everyone else in Santa Barbara without expecting special treatment.

Someone forwarded me a video of Kelly Slater, arguably the best surfer
ever, tearing it up at Malibu, one of the most crowded waves
on the planet. Two things were obvious in the video; Kelly was
ripping and is an amazing surfer, and even the world champ
gets dropped in on and yells people off the wave.

No where else in sports do we get a chance to share the playing field
with our superstars, the heros. Makes no difference if you are a "lifer"
or a grom. We all get to surf the same breaks, the same waves and
on the same days. We share, stare, watch, hoot, and even talk to each
other in the lineup. Guess surfing gives us a real glimpse into the human
condition. We are all very much the same, all paddling for the same
waves, all trying to enjoy many of the same simple pleasures in life.
Rich or poor, black or white in the water we all want the same things,
all have a chance to surf together. Not a bad model for life.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The rules

Summer is upon us. The water is quickly warming up.
The beaches are "officially" open and, as a friend says,
the eggs have hatched and all newbies are scurrying about
everywhere. This is especially true in the lineup.

Yesterday I got to watch the same scene play out over
and over again. Inexperienced wanna be surfers haphazardly
paddling to the peak without a clue, endangering themselves
and others. When someone nicely tries to direct them
away from the main peak, down the beach, where beginners
belong, a nasty exchange takes place. Why is it that these
folks without a clue get angry when someone tries to teach
them the rules? What happened to the idea that if you don't
really know the rules perhaps you should timidly sit on the
sidelines for a bit and learn them before you head into the

Knowing the rules doesn't only pertain to surfing. We'd
all be much safer and happier if we took the time to observe
how things work before haphazardly or impulsively charging
ahead without knowing the obstacles. We all can benefit from
learning a bit, taking the advice of "experts", and listening
to wisdom gained over the years. Don't be a kook in the surf
or in life. Take the time to learn the rules. You'll be happier,
safer, and healthier for sure.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Waves per Lifetime

It's rare that you get to surf fun A frames, with
oil slick glassy conditions, in the rain, alone. I had
that opportunity just the other day. On those rare
occasions when I surf alone I find it quite meditative.
As anyone who meditates on a regular basis knows
sometimes you become aware of interesting thoughts.

My thoughts on that day seemed focused on the concept
of "Waves per Lifetime" (WPL). Just how many waves
does one ride during their lifetime. Each wave is but a
brief few seconds. Each session is made up of a finite
number of waves. Each year consists of a finite number
of sessions and your surfing life probably has a finite number
of years.

I actually have no real interest trying to calculate the
number of waves I've ridden in the 48 or so years I've been
surfing. I know it's been quite a few. Some have been
really special and stand out in my mind while others seem
to be lost somewhere in my brain. Much of our lives go
by in the same way I guess, some moments very special
while others rather ordinary and seemingly easy to forget.
Our challenge both in and out of the water, is to value all
our moments, all our sessions. We can't forget just how
blessed we all are simply to have them. Enjoy...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Yea but the surf was good

Saturday we had some pretty fun leftover surf here in NJ.
Unfortunately there were many many more people surfing
than there were taking part in the semi-annual beach clean up.
Why was that?? Not quite sure I fully understand why so many
surfers don't take the time to take part in, or regularly on there
own pick up trash from the beach.

It's amazing how much surf related trash we regularly find when
we do beach clean-ups. On Saturday alone I found 1/2 a surfboard
that someone had broken the day before; a leash that had snapped;
wax; towels that someone had left covered in sand; empty plastic
bottles. Now maybe all that stuff wasn't from surfers but alot
was for sure.

Why aren't we, as surfers, leading the way in the effort to keep our
beaches clean? Why can the lineup have 25 to 30 people in it and
the beach clean up crew only have 5 or so? Kudos to the few surfers
who did help. As to the rest...apathy will destroy the ocean, beaches,
waves we all love so dearly.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


A surfing friend of mine has been writing a blog about
her fitness adventures. She has been on a good program
of diet and training and is really happy about her results.
I made a comment to her asking if she thought her new regime
was sustainable? All too often I see people who get excited about
a diet, a workout routine, a life change they've made, only to
be unable to keep at it, unable to sustain the change.

Sustainability is a word and issue I've been thinking quite a bit
about lately. So much of what we do as individuals and as citizens
of the planet Earth is not sustainable. I'm sure you've heard the
dire forecasts regarding the fish in the ocean. If we don't change
our present practices there will be no fish to eat by 2050. Our
current fishing practices are not sustainable. Our current addiction
to oil...not sustainable. Our continued use of plastic and the adverse
impact it has on our planet...not sustainable.

Looking at sustainability from a more individual perspective might
force you to ask some interesting questions about your own lifestyle
and habits. What are you doing that's simply not sustainable, that you
just can't keep doing with having to face serious consequences some day?

Try to live as sustainable a life as possible. Guess that means eat right,
exercise, rest and learn to relax, have fun, find balance, and try to
develop good "attitudes of mind" as my friend Doc Paskowitz would
say. Make your life as sustainable as possible. You'll live longer, love
longer, and of course surf all the waves of life longer.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Leif Engstrom's 540

If you haven't seen it you should check out
the "Punt of the Month" on Surfline. It's
a video of Leif Engstrom doing an amazing
snowboardlike 540 on a wave in Puerto Rico.
It's not just an amazing feat, to me it symbolizes
a number of interesting observations and lessons for
the new year.

Leif didn't just paddle out and do his 540. I've seen
him try and try to pull it off many times. He is tenacious.
His persistence is really something to behold. A
great lesson for us all. Keep at it, keep trying to accomplish
the things that are important to you. Sure you'll fall short,
fail, or miss it many times before you make. That's all
part of life. If you don't try how can you succeed? What's
holding you back?

Another thing that wave reminded me was just how much
things change and how critical it is to try to adapt to
change. A 540 is a long way from a nose ride. It represents
a totally different way of thinking about, and riding a wave.
One is not better than the other, they're merely different.
They represent two ways of approaching something. Just
because things change doesn't mean we must all follow along
blindly or alter the way we think or view the world. Change
happens, it's inevitable. How we adapt and cope with change
is the challenge.

Watching Leif launch that air and spin around above the wave
made me think about trying to imagine yourself doing
something new, or something you've feared. I initially
commented to a friend that I couldn't even imagine myself
doing a 540. The more I thought about
it the less I like the idea that I couldn't imagine it. I probably
will never do one but I'm working on imagining it, seeing and
feeling myself do it. Who knows where that mind game will
lead. I'll bet it pushes me to try something I've not done before.

Make a New Year's resolution. Imagine yourself doing something
new, something you'd like to accomplish. Be persistent in working
to achieve that goal. You just might pull it off and at least you'll
have fun in the trying.