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Surfing Reflections on a legend

HikeClimbSurfRun guest writer Dan Colburn shares his thoughts on Gerry Lopez’s recent literary effort. Probably next on my list.

I recently absorbed Gerry Lopez’s contribution to the literary world: “Surf is Where You Find It.” Gerry (I guess maybe I should call him Mr. Lopez out of sheer respect) is truly one of those unique souls who only comes along only once in a long while.

Not only is Gerry a legend in the surfing community, having pioneered a number of world-class surf spots including Indonesian pearl, G-Land, but he is also a yoga enthusiast, a Buddhist, a father, a husband and someone who I think would be an amazing guy to have a session with. He’s very inspirational in his approach to life and of course, his surfing. He not only has a captivating passion for it but brings a very unique spirit to the water.

In his book, he talks about many of the spots he surfed early on in his career and how on more than one occasion, found himself in some very hairy situations (including a mile plus free swim out to sea to retrieve his board in the days before leashes and PWC’s became standard equipment). And yet, somehow, he manages to do it all while maintaining his style and repose.

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be one of the first people to paddle out at Uluwatu. Make the harrowing climb down the giant cliffs along the Bukit Peninsula, navigate the treacherous paddle out through the cave then still have to endure the reef crossing and the paddle out. Mind you, Gerry did this before the place was even an actual surfing destination, in fact he rarely even saw another surfer aside from those with whom he was traveling. Not exactly like pulling up to the parking lot at your local beach break now is it?

Gerry recounts these experiences with a revealing fondness. It’s clear that he enjoys the solitude of being alone, or nearly alone. Not to say that he’s antisocial by any means, I mean he’s acted in several movies, been the subject of numerous media articles and is an undisputed surfing celebrity. But yet to look at him or read his words you get a certain feeling of serenity and compassion, something Buddhists believe is the key to a fulfilling life.

“In that moment I had entered another realm. The roaring sounds of the wave crashing were suddenly silent. My fears and worries slipped away like droplets shearing off of glass. My sense of awareness became so acute in that that nearly frozen timelessness I could see individual drops of water falling from the ceiling above. I was at one with the universe. A smile spread across my face as the wave shot me out of the barrel in a mist of spray that tickled and stung my face and back.” – Gerry Lopez

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