As Dane Reynolds patently reaffirmed for us this past year, often the most interesting things about surfing the planet are not the waves you score, but rather the people you meet and experiences you have beyond your sessions. Like him, I relish this aspect of surf travel and have always been conscious to seek out and soak up these transcendent occasions.
Our world is so big, diverse and ever-changing.
If you’ve ever stood atop a 14,000 foot mountain and tried to make sense of the enormity of the world around you; sat in a foreign lineup and tripped out on a pre-historic jungle hugging the shore; or even marveled at feats of engineering in a concrete jungle of towering skyscrapers, well then… you understand what I’m saying.
Our lives are fleeting.
In the context of time, we are not on this earth for a moment. Not even a breath of a moment. Tomorrow is not promised to us. Nor, even the next second. So, you’ve got to seize every opportunity to experience life, and just “go.”
It was with this mindset that I related the importance of surfing and traveling in my life to my bride-to-be long ago, as we planned for our future. As someone who has enjoyed the indescribable blessings of a true soul mate and happy marriage for years, I can inform you that helping to ensure this has the best chance of being the case doesn’t require all the formalities of pre-marriage counseling and meetings with a Pastor– just the simplest bits of common sense.
My wife and I established our compatibility and commitment to one another over the course of a couple of years of dating (always wise). As a result, when our minds turned to something a little more permanent, something like a lifetime– well, we actually got things squared away in about half an hour.
Had we both dated long enough to know with certainty what kind of people we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with? Check. Did we share the same religious beliefs? Check. Were we good with combining bank accounts and tossing everything else into one big pile? Check. Could we agree to hold off on kids for a bit to ensure that our marriage was sound, and to play with each other for a couple of years? Check.
It wasn’t rocket science.
But as a surfer, there was one more thing that I had to add to that list– my undying love for and commitment to, surfing and surf-travel. (Until death would do us part.)
I informed my future wife, Gretchen, that years before the time I had ever met her– from those earliest days until eternity, I had already committed to a lifetime of chasing waves and new experiences in places near and far. And I wasn’t about to go back on this promise to myself. As I looked into the future and imagined a day when kids, careers and yard work might slowly pilfer away the friends that I had once surfed and traveled with, I assured her that I would never succumb to these same “traps”– that I would forever be limited only by the resources that enabled me to continue to “go.”
I told her that if she were willing, I would love to share these experiences with her. And that if not– if she wasn’t interested or resolved in the idea of a bit of adventure, and if one day the boys just couldn’t pull it all together, well then– I’d still be going…
I’d just be traveling solo.
Fortunately, she was stoked. And we never looked back.
Today, while we’ve still only seen and surfed a fraction of the places on this earth that beckon, sharing these adventures with her, and now– our children, has made chasing these moments all the more pressing and fundamental.
Author’s Note: This is my latest piece for The Inertia, a leading-edge highly-popular action sports website based out of California billed as, “The Planet’s Largest Network of Thinking Surfers” To see the response and full discussion of the article, please visit: http://www.theinertia.com/author/tim-hamby/
Dear U.S. SURF Industry (SIMA Members, Grind Media, ASP NA, New Media, Shapers, Pros, Joes, Rebels and Start-ups):
Greetings from sunny Florida!
I hope this letter finds you well and that you have been enjoying some bountiful surf. We’re not complaining over here. Seems like there have been great waves all year. And hurricane season– well, you got a little taste of it in NY. (I hope you enjoyed your trip east and found your way around the city). We scored much more of the same down here (Bret, Irene, Katia, Lee, Maria, etc.,), only without wetsuits. The water temps have retreated into the mid-60s lately, though. I guess all good things have to come to an end sometime– which brings me to the reason I’m writing.
I know we don’t see each other a lot, but we’ve been friends for a long time. And I care about you. Everyone here in Florida does. But there’s something important that I need to tell you. It’s not easy and I hate to have to be the one to do it, but I just think you need to know.
You see, California– she doesn’t love you any more.
But you– the surf industry? Sorry man, afraid not.
Trust me, I’m on the websites and message boards. She’s been talking about you behind your back, dude. Nasty stuff. I’m hearing words like “incestuous”, “soulless”, “hose”, “monumental screw-up”, “sickly”“polluted”, “dangerous”, “evil” and “lame”… She’s over you.
But, here’s the deal: While you’re not a kid any longer, you’re still plenty young; not too old to bust a move and make a transition in your life. So what I’d like to suggest is for you to consider relocating to Florida. Yeah man, throw your gear in a bag and come on over! You don’t have to take all of Cali’s sh#%! Granted, she’s beautiful– but you have spoiled her rotten. And there’s plenty of eye-candy here. We can set you up big time. And you know, I think you’d really love it.
Most importantly, you’d have someone who loves you back.
Yeah, I know– global economic focus is shifting to Asia, and you’re a little closer where you’re at. But Florida is also a global hub for business with large modern and growing ports and airports. Consider: Once Europe finishes imploding and the US does the same, then who’s left holding the debt bag? That’s right- China! And once they are forced to restructure and we all hit the “reset” button, then where do you think the money will head? Yep, right back to the good ol’ USA– safest bet on the planet! China won’t be such a big deal, then.
Besides, even if things don’t go down exactly like that, consider: Do we (can I take the liberty of saying, “we”, because I’d really like for you to start thinking of us as your new “partners” here?) Do we really want to be in bed with China? I’m telling you– this is one of the problems that Cali says she has with you. You know… human rights issues. It’s serious stuff. And none of us want to ignore it.
Let me introduce you to Latin America…
I know you’ve always loved Mexico… We do, too! And hey, the Brazos– they’re NUTS about you! Man, with surfers like Adriano, Alejo, Jadsen, Heitor, Miguel and what’s the other new guy’s name?… Oh yeah– Medina! With those guys coming on like a 9.0 California earthquake, do you think there might be a growing market for you there? Those guys are our “neighbors”! Oh, and don’t forget about Puerto Rico… and Cuba! Cuba’s coming– just a little more time… you’ll see.
Look– I know at first glance, Florida might seem a little uptight for you; maybe a little more conservative than you’re used to. But hey, a little fiscal restraint’s not a bad thing, is it? Everybody knows what Cali did with the credit cards… (Yeah, we used ours too, but they’re on ice now.) In most other areas, things are pretty relaxed here. You’d dig it!
Oh, and how about this idea? Instead of sourcing to countries that want to kick our ass and rob us blind, how about getting your apparel manufacturers together and we can all help establish a sustainable new economy in Haiti? Seriously. Your Gen Y customers want you to do better. We all do.
Did you know that at the same time he is shrinking the state budget, our Republican governor is also pledging $40 million for Everglades restoration (part of a larger $600 million plan) and is pushing a $1 billion bump for education funding? And the part of the state I’m living in– Jacksonville (where I’d REALLY like you to direct your focus), well this may sound strange– but as one astute local columnist noted, we’re the “New Progressives”. That’s right! San Francisco has nothing on us.
Just look at the facts.
Our population is younger (35.8 to 38.2) (tons of talented young artists, photographers and filmershere). We have a new African-American Mayor– a fiscally conservative Democrat who is actually doing what he promised and now, the NFL’s first and only minority owner! Yeah- a dual-citizen Pakastani with a stylish ‘stache who “busted down the door” on the world’s most reknowned rich white guy’s club. Heck,Forbes even has Jacksonville listed at #6 on “Best Cities for Technology Jobs”! (I think I saw San Fran on there at #29). We’re happy at #6, but once our spaceports for horizontal and vertical space launch open, I think that’s when you’ll really see things blast off.
So what’s bringing businesses east (and south) to places like Jacksonville and Florida? Why did Lebron, Wade and Bosch choose the Heat over… everybody? Because Florida is business friendly. The tax advantages are huge compared to California. And financial incentives? State, local… we pay big for jobs! Operators are standing by.
But hey, this is all stuff for the suits. I know the real problem you’re having with leaving Cali is the emotional connection, right? A lot of good memories there, I know. (Hey, me too and we only hooked up a few times… Oh, I’m sorry– I didn’t mean it that way.) At first glance, Cali seems to offer a lot: 840 miles of coastline! Of course, Florida offers 1,350 by itself, not to mention the rest of the east coast.
Surfing Heritage? We’ve been doing it here since the 1930s and Florida surfers are responsible for 13 out of 29 ASP Men’s World Titles, and 8 out 29 Women’s Titles!
Look, I’ve played in Newport. I’ve caught a couple of those solid 8’+ south swells at Huntington. Man– big ol’ perfect skate ramps! So fun!! But, we get those same waves here during hurricane season and other times of the year… South Beach, Reef Road, Sebastian, RC’s, New Smyrna, St. Augustine and Jax Beach, not to mention the Gulf Coast– they all go off! Think about it– Nor Cal is cold and inhospitable. And Central and Southern Cal are crowded, with growing environmental concerns. Look through your photo album. Are you really enjoying yourself?
Steamer Lane: Cold, crowded and localized.
Sandspit: Crowds, localism, pollution (although, please take note that one of your premiere breaks is indeed a SANDBAR.)
Malibu: Hollywood. Crowded and localized. A zoo.
Huntington: Rips, localism, pollution and crowds.
Lunada: Sure, if you know martial arts.
Newport Jetties: Rips, rocks, localism, pollution and crowds.
Let’s see, what else is in Cali’s magic spellbook?
Look… here in Florida, the water is warm; the people are friendly; the waves are fun; and the line-ups not nearly as crowded. The weather and the business climate are both ideal and there’s not thousands of people bitching because you’re not good enough for them. Rather, this is a place where no one will take your venerable qualities– the jobs, the business and culture that you bring to the table– for granted.
So, what do you say? Will you consider ditching Cali once and for all? Yes, she has some fine physical attributes, but maybe it’s time you considered someone with a better personality.
You know, sometimes in life, it’s best to just stop arguing, and accept that you might not be right for one another.
I really love this concept: A professional surfer (former ASP World Champion and Central Floridian, CJ Hobgood), being sponsored by a non-profit group! TWLOHA (To Write Love on Her Arms) is an organization dedicated to providing help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA, founded by Jamie Tworkowski, is not only a non-profit, but also a surfwear brand. So people who support the brand also support the cause. It is a genius business model because it is also a very worthy one.
CJ, along with his twin brother, Damien, are in my opinion, two of the best ambassadors the sport of surfing has ever seen. They’ve both been ripping for years, as adept at the newest of new school airs and rotes, as negotiating the heaviest of slabs at places like Teahupo’o and Pipe.
C.J. nearly abandoned his coveted spot on the World Tour last year, but a couple of outstanding late season competitive successes, along with a bit of self-reflection, convinced him to continue in 2012. Having the opportunity to be supported by and in turn, to be able to promote such a meaningful brand/organization like TWOLHA no doubt provided a fresh surge of motivation for Hobgood, a strong self-professed Christian.
If you’ve ever known someone who has struggled with depression or addiction, then you know how debilitating those things can be. I’ve seen it up close and personal and have watched how it affects not only the individuals experiencing the issues directly, but nearly everyone around them in one form or another. Hopefully, CJ and organizations like TWLOHA will be able to use a similar “ripple effect” in reverse to raise awareness for these kinds of problems, and marshall more resources to help those who are fighting to overcome them.
If you are a Fantasysurfer player like me, take it from someone who has finished in the Top 1% of all players worldwide for three years in a row: Keep you eye on CJ this year. Despite a significant influx of rising young talent, CJ is going to be surfing with renewed purpose. If they price him low (likely), be sure to pick him up. And if he under-performs (unlinkely), well– let’s just say that won’t really matter.
You see, some things in life are more important than surfing.
One man’s struggle to transcend.This humble film is about a friend of Sean Mullens’ named Michael and his daily ritual to find his natural self through surfing. Directed by Sean Mullens
Cinematography by Sean Mullens Music by The Album Leaf – Into the Blue Again – Broken Arrow
Sub Pop Records 2006
The results are in.
And we have a (slam-dunk) winner.
After scouring every obscure website and hipster blog in the webishphere, I only had to look down the street to find the coolest Halloween costume– not just this year– but possibly, ever:
Straight from the creative imagination of LeAna Kimball, wife of my good friend Jake, LeAna is this year’s Grand Prize Winner and will recieve the balance of my kids’ Halloween candy that I still haven’t been able to polish off. I think there’s even a few Snickers left!
LeAna is the author of A Small Snippet, a rockin’ Mommy blog. In the course of doing marketing research for past clients, I’ve actually visited quite a few mommy blogs and LeAna’s is one of the best I’ve seen. Whatever you’re looking for- from parenting advice, to photography tips, creative crafting, cooking and costuming– you’ll find it there.
The last time I visited LeAna and Jake’s home, I think she was using one hand to tend to a sick child and another restoring a piece of antique furniture. I believe that if she wasn’t a full-time mom, she’d probably be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company like IDEO. I know she’d give Martha Stewart a good run for her money. And she’s a lot nicer.
Awesome job, LeAna– Congratulations!
P.S. Lest we forget, here is a beautiful video (Jellies – RED EPIC Style) by stillmotion on Vimeo shot at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago showing you the real things! So beautiful. Thank you to Tory Strange and the gang at the Surf Station in St. Augustine for the find. Their blog is always a go-to resource for interesting surf-related content of all kinds.