I first tried surfing when I was 28. That may seem late for some, especially since many in the surfer scene began their adventures at sea way back in the their single digits if not their teens.
I wasn’t raised on the coast. In fact I grew up a few hours from the nearest beach and even if I had spent much time there, it wasn’t a good spot for surfing. We were often on a riverbank or a bay, neither which generate waves.
Now after a good handful of years in a wetsuit, surfing has become one of my passions. All it takes is one good wave to get you propelling through life on a wave of metaphors. Synchronizing your location and speed with that of a wave that traveled perhaps 1000′s of miles to reach you is not unlike seeing a ghost or riding a dinosaur. It’s a rare, exhilarating and fleeting experience. But now I’m rambling, and feel I’m getting further away from the truth, which is that surfing is perhaps the greatest waste of time. It requires mind/body focus with spirit surrender. Even on a small day it can take you to your edge and re-introduce you to who you really are, a beastly creature of the sea.
There are myths that serve as deterrents for new surfers, such as “this beach is for locals only.” In some cases the crowds can become strict enforcers of these made-up rules and are usually done so out of a love for their special location. There’s nothing worse than overcrowding on waves, especially by inexperienced surfers. However, when approaching a new beach with that same love and respect, most surfers can’t wait for you to ride their wave and see how beautiful life is from their perspective.
I’ve been fortunate to travel to Costa Rica, France, Australia, Morocco, (and soon Bali & New Zealand) all in the name of wave-riding. And though surfing is generally understood as something you do alone, I caught some of the best waves of my life with the help of friends, other surfers who welcome me in the water with encouragement and enjoyment. One of those people is the incomparable Jesse Billauer, an incredible surfer, perhaps the best in the world.
I met Jesse at a concert in Ventura. He a lover of music and I lover of surf saw eye to eye right away and knew we had a lot we could share with each other.
He would invite me to great locations and events up and down the coast of California and I would give him copies of my demos, dozens of songs that never make it on my albums. Like any friend, we talk about love, life, food, fishing, surf, girls, etc.. And like good friends, we often travel for lengths of time without connecting but never make the other person feel guilty for not reaching out. Good friends are like money in the bank. You can go back anytime and tap into those savings whenever you want, without hassle. A true friend will only add interest when you’re gone.
In this case, Jesse is as good a friend as it gets. And what’s more extraordinary about this awesome being is his story. In 1997 Jesse hit a shallow sandbar and suffered a spinal cord injury leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. With limited movement of his arms and a lot of help from his friends and family he started his life all over again, learning how to care for his body, and make the best with what he still had access to. Most impressively is how he chooses to live in his mind. As a child he had an unwavering dream of being a professional surfer who traveled the world to harness of the energy of amazing waves, fleeting moments that every surfer lives for. Today Jesse lives that dream with extraordinary gusto, proving that nothing can get in the way of your dream. AND when you do it right, others will take notice and see their own dreams realized as well.
Jesse also tours the world as a motivational speaker and launched LifeRollsOn.Org, an organization devoted to helping those with disabilities overcome limitations of the mind. LRO hosts surf and skate events, contributes to spinal cord injury research, and holds a variety of fun fundraisers throughout the year. A Night By The Ocean, the annual gala is this Saturday night in Marina Del Rey. I’ll be there to play a few songs and win some prizes in both the silent and live auction.
I don’t have a date for it yet either. Wanna come?
Here a link to the upcoming event:
Saturday, October 15, 2011 | 6PM
Life Rolls On 8th Annual
Night By The Ocean
@ The Ritz-Carlton
4375 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA