A Surfer’s Conversation


The godfather at the local break sat his listeners down as he preached from the back of his van to share one more key to his version of life. 

“It’s all in the conversation,” he pointed out. “Take this one guy. He wanted to be with this girl so badly, that he woke up at 5am just to join her morning session. He tried to convince her that he was as experienced as she was in the water, but she saw through his stories. She told him later that she just wanted to be friends.”


“Some guys chat from the moment they get their toes wet. They talk while they paddle out. They talk while sitting in the lineup. They talk while you’re trying to paddle into a wave,” the godfather added. “If they’d talk less, they’d catch more.”


“There’s nothing you can do when high tide turns the break into a swamp,” the godfather continued, “I can’t tell you how many guys end up watching and talking before walking to the closest coffee house to talk some more.”
“All I can say is…” the godfather paused as if he had changed his last point in mid-breath, “make your words count and paddle more.” He ended his surf-sermon, hugged his listeners, knowing that he would get to preach again the next day.

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. Some people are just more artful at conversation than others. Mike, the surf teacher is a real person and a real storyteller. People like him produce a lot more smiles in this world. Isn’t storytelling and conversations make life more exciting? I appreciate your feedback, and if you like my content please share it.

Check out the Steller version here.

Remembering Marie

 The noise of the growing and curious crowd, tractors building berms, and news helicopters hovering overhead still couldn’t drown out the sound of the massive waves produced by Hurricane Marie, which churned into a Category 5 storm in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles off the coast of Baja back in the late Summer of 2014. 

Lifeguards tried their best to close one section of this local beach to keep the crowds safe as the moving machines made small hills of sand to protect the homes in the crosshairs of the mighty waves.

Marie produced the surf event of a lifetime to the coast of Southern California. Instead of the usual 1-2 foot waves the locals were used to at this beach, this storm created waves 10-15 feet. More popular surf breaks along the coast were getting pounded by 20 and up to 30 foot giants.

And the surfers came. They came on the biggest day. They dreamed about this day; years for some. Many were literally in over their heads and left injured, exhausted, and disappointed. News circulated quickly that a fellow waterman lost his life that day. They underestimated the power of Marie.

The people kept coming the days that followed. Most came to marvel at one of the most powerful natural forces known around the world. Some came to ride giants. They all came to experience the force of Marie.

Aging Well

imageI got to meet John a few years ago and was immediately inspired. John was born on 2-2-30 as his wetsuit proudly states. Most folks born around 1930 walk around this break watching the surfers. John is one of the surfers.

What makes this more amazing to me is that he didn’t pick up a surfboard until he was well beyond 70. I was inspired as much today as I was back then to not only hope I age well, but working on aging well. What is your approach to aging well? Have you even thought about it?

Check out my visual essay on Steller.

Volunteering At The U.S. Open

20130726-102310.jpg My friend Wes asked me if I wanted to help him get paraplegic children to surf at the U.S. Open of Surfing at Hungtington Beach. At least that’s what I thought he said because I was “all in.” He picked up my boss, Ray and I the following morning, and we headed to the beach. Turns out, I heard wrong, and no children were involved. The surfers who needed help were former pro surfers, who had been paralyzed by injury, but are now participating in “Life Rolls On.” We ended up volunteering as a board catchers and retrieved runaway boards for the surfers. It was amazing to watch all the volunteers support the surfers by carrying them into the water then gang-paddling the surfers 100 yards out to the line up. Each surfer was then towed into a wave. When a surfer fell off his board, the volunteers swam to help the surfer float face up. I retrieved the surfer-less board, swam it back to the group, who then lifted the surfer back on his board and returned him to the lineup. It was fantastic teamwork, and these surfers were inspiring as they promoted their cause and their sport without the use of their limbs. Not only did we get to be a part of this, we also got to hang out behind the scenes of the event, and I met the founder of “Life Rolls On,” Jesse Billauer. Volunteering is rewarding, and provides for some surprising once-in-a-lifetime moments.

Surfing Lessons

20130709-101551.jpg I tried shooting in Panorama mode with my son’s iPhone. It turned out distorted, I but had to capture my son as he studied the break before paddling out. I’m sometimes comically lame when surfing, but I love it. I’m learning some life-truths in the process. They’re not in any order of importance or sequence:

  • Always assess first.
  • Milk the moments.
  • Don’t do life alone.
  • Be patient.
  • Do things with soul.