“To judge a man by his weakest link or deed is like judging the power of the ocean by one wave.”
The ocean is a place of peace. I can submerge my body into the water and change mood, relieve stress, and leave my worries on the shore. The ocean separates people, countries and cultures. It gives humans the foundation of boundaries. We feel safe next to the ocean. We respect the water because of it’s power.
Today, August 27th 2014, I drove to the Newport Peninsula with my camera by my side ready to photograph the ocean because of the reporting’s of huge swells. I didn’t realize what I was about to get myself into. I have grown up looking at surf magazines with my brother. I have seen big waves in still images. However, today changed my persecutive of what I think is real and what I know is real.
I am walking to the shore, with crowds like Disneyland. My heart is racing as I see the overhead of the wave reach above the crowd and then quickly drop. I walk up to the line of humans as a set is rolling in. I get as close as I can to the water and get a clear look at the waves in front of me. I can feel the hair’s all over my body creep to a stance. I knew that my eyes were dialating. It was like I had made eye contact with God. I stood paralyzed like an ancient roman sculpture. I was alive by my detail but completely empty of all preconcieved notions about the ocean.
What I witnessed today was a moment that in time that I shared with hundred’s of people. Tourists from Wisconsin, locals from 34th street, kids with their GoPros, reporters, photographers, surfers, business men are all packed like chickens in a coupe on the sand of “The Wedge”.
A man from Winsconsin is taking a photo on his iphone 4, pointing and saying “Holy Cow!” He continues to turn to his wife and like a kid in a candy shop he says, “Look at that wave! Wait, look at the one after it! Oh my goodness these guys are crazy for being out there!” She patiently shakes her head and gives him the look that he needs to calm his voice.
There was an older man standing behind me whom I could tell was experienced with the water. His breaths thickened and deepened every time a large set would roll in. He would whisper to himself, “here we go”.
A certain vibe and spirit soared with the breeze. We inhaled anxiety to be held in our shoulders and exhaled excitement through the clapping of our hands.
I couldn’t help but think of the surfer and lifeguard who drown this summer. I remembered thinking, “Dear God, please keep those body surfers safe.”
I grabbed my phone to text one person. My brother.
The only thing that is holding my brother from being here is a six hour drive from Phoenix, Arizona. I knew that if he would be here with me, he would go in. He would grab his fins and submerge himself into 25 feet waves.
When you encounter nature work at it’s strongest you are reminded that this planet, and all of the features was not created by a big explosive bang. This earth was created with a purpose by God.
We, as people, stood and watched God’s natural water show like we were watching the Bellagio’s water show in Las Vegas. Instead of being motivated by pumps of man made pressure, the waves are pushed and pulled by themselves.
As I stand watching the people on the shore and the people in the ocean I think of the difference between the two kinds. There are some of us that will stand on shore with “oohhhh’s” and “ahhhhh’s” leaving our lips and appreciate the power of the waves from a safe distance. Then there are some that are motivated to feel the power for themselves, even if it kills them.
Sure I stand on the shore, chiming in with the rest of the crowd, but I like to consider myself apart of the group that will live so hard that it can kill me. I am not experienced, nor do I feel like starting my body surfing passions on a day like today.
Surfing photography is unlike an other action sports photography. The photos may be beautiful and that wave may be big but nothing can compare to the experience of being in front of that wave. If it means being on shore or duck diving under the wave. We just won’t know it until we are there.
My photo isn’t actually the power of the wave. It is just a representation of it. It’s an idea of the wave.
It is just like when we say, “I love you”. Sometimes that three letter word is not the real thing. It is just a representation of what we think we know what it means to love. We can’t tell people that we love them, we have to show them. Make them feel that you love them. Get to the point where you can feel it so much that it is dangerous. You must dangerously love someone to mean those three words.
Go and dangerously submerge your body into the water and you will feel God’s power and love.
It bothers me to know that Kyle would go swim in those waters, but only for my own selfish reasons. I don’t want to lose him. I don’t want him to die. He wants to live to tell others that he swam in those waters. To feel it and survived it. He doesn’t want a representation of it. A photo only teases him. What he wants is to get tossed around, to lose his breathe and to feel fatigue. To drop down the face and glide across and through the wave is what makes him alive.
We can call someone like him a crazy person. We can think that they are insane. What we can’t do is say that we did the same thing. We only get our crappy, low resolution, representation of what we saw. Those body surfers can exit the powerful waters and pridefully say that they rode that wave.
The ocean is a place for peace. It is also a place of power that we can’t always explain. Our only words are sometimes our feelings of excitement and anxiety. I surely had the intentions of explaining the waves in this post. It didn’t work out but I did recognize that a picture of a wave is much like saying “I love you”.
A representation of something or a feeling isn’t always real. You have to live it with every ounce of your body to mean it. You can’t kind of swim under a 30 foot wave. You swim for you life. You can’t kind of love someone. You have to love them with ever cell in your body.
The earth and galaxy wasn’t kind of made with a bang. It was made by God. That wave is made by God. This love that you feel is possible because of God. Don’t kind of do life. Do it so hard that it can kill you. Once you emerge every ounce of yourself, then that is when you will start to live.