Never give up on something you can’t go a day without thinking about. – Winston Churchill
This week was the first real ocean swell of the season. Eager to show the kids big surf, we headed to Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. We perched ourselves several feet behind the lifeguard stand to ensure we were safe from the big swells.
Just after settling in, a sneaker wave pushed our chairs and picnic into the parking lot and swept our flip flops out to sea. As one woman ran to the shore to fetch her bag, the lifeguards descended and pulled her back to safety. I thought about going after our family of shoes, but then pictured the headlines, “Mother of three drowns to save $10 flip-flops.” We packed the remainder of our drenched belongings, then set off barefoot to find another lunch. The wave was an instantaneous testament to the power of the ocean.
We decided to rent the iconic North Shore documentary Riding Giants to educate ourselves about the big wave fascination that attracts people from all over the world to Hawaii in winter. We wanted to make sure we learned as much as possible about these waves for ourselves and our children instead of leaving the beach in fear.
Laird Hamilton, the most famous big wave surfer in history, is well known for his insights on facing fear; “Meet up with your fears. If you are afraid of sharks, learn everything you can about sharks. If you stop exploring, everything becomes smaller.”
As we watched this documentary of the epic evolution of big wave surfing, we realized the sheer power the ocean wields and also its ability to bring people to live in ways they never could have imagined. There are energy and magnetism that draws certain athletes to achieve unimaginable things on the water.
What we learned from diving into the history of big wave surfing is that it is hard to want less than we have experienced. It doesn’t mean that big wave surfers don’t appreciate smaller waves, but the promise of the big wave keeps them focused, yearning, and dreaming. Pure desire keeps them exploring and expanding and it prevents things from “becoming smaller.” That is the swell of courage we needed to prepare for our journey to the Southern Hemisphere next week …