Contemplation in Paradise

Have you had the pleasure of a Hawaiian Holiday?

A vacation is an opportunity for reflection.

We spent most of Christmas Day 2016 taking in famous big waves, known as The Pipeline, on the Northshore of Hawaii.  We are recovering from the shock of what seemed like  The End of Me.  My illness was no mere cold or common headache.  The late-stage cancer that I had out danced, out laughed, and out treated (with top technology) while not skipping a beat caught up with us.  Our family and friends (thank goodness) rallied around us.

Last year, at this time I was in a hospital bed unable rise, walk, and mumbling absurdities.  We were facing the abyss.  Yet, I was unready to leave.  “I don’t want to die,” I growled decimated in the sticky hospital bed.  Scrappy, I clung to life even though my body was no longer hospitable to my soul.  At one point, I was chasing what would-have-been my last breath, and without competent nurse intervention it would have been my premature end.  The doctors had asked my loving husband to, “Bring the kids in to say goodbye.”

He refused.  Instead he stood up to the medical establishment, with my Oncologist’s backing, and demanded they keep treating me.  I am very fortunate in that my choice of husband has never disappointed.  Seventeen years of happy marriage behind us,  I keep learning what it means to be loved.  Now, I know what it means to be loved beyond youth, past good looks, and to the brink of the grave.

In January 2016, almost a year ago today, I was released from the hospital.  They let me go home with the tacit understanding I’d die there, soon after.  My husband, had other plans.  Almost immediately, he carted (wheelchair required) half-dead but happy me to a Mexican restaurant so I could pretend to drink and eat.  Most importantly so I could see people and be among the living.

Photo: © H.C. Kolb, 2016 Almost exactly one year after being near death in the hospital, Frau Kolb is loving life.

The Pipeline in Oahu, Northshore, Hawaii:

Flash forward to yesterday, Christmas Day, 25th of December 2016: we celebrated the day by watching professional surfers on the beach in Northshore, Oahu, brave the colossal waves.  This is the famous, Pipeline, of waves which every surfer dreams to conquer.  Yet, no amateur would dare go out there.  It is too dangerous!  These waves were deemed, “Unsurfable!”  by Hawaii Authorities up until the 1950’s, according to Joe Kaiser, a future film star, who has surfed Oahu’s waves since early youth.

Joe Kaiser generously gave me the history of Surf Culture, in a nutshell, as we watched professionals do the impossible.  Joseph Kasnetzkov, who I call “Joe Kaiser,” for the majestic color of his gorgeous ocean blue eyes, and whose local friends and fellow surfers call, “Joey,” because they have known him since he was too little to be Joseph.  As it rings out on the beach, the diminutive form of Joseph, “Joey,” is steeped with affection and trust.

“Not too long, ago…”  Kaiser smiles, “Surfing was associated with the idea of beach bums.”  The general public had an image of surfers as drug users who loafed and lazed, catching waves and allowing their lives to revolve around the ocean’s whims. “That changed.”   He continues, “Surf master Kelly Slater elevated the image of surfers by becoming a model of spiritual development.  He does not party.  He meditates.  He surfs.” Besides, Kaiser goes on, “He dated Pam Anderson,” when he was twenty.

Here is an excellent short video, by Hartmuth C. Kolb, of an elegant professional surfer managing a Pipeline way with finesse:

The prizes for winners soared.  Surfing, a Hawaiian innovation, became a truly an international sport, attracting competitors from around the world.  Brazil (Gabriel Mendina),  France (Jérémy Florès) , and South Africa (Jordy Smith) have all produced world champions. The sport enjoys growing sponsorship and popularity as Red Bull, Billabong, and Quicksilver are among the many leading youth brands that support the sport.  Glamorous locations, the allure of doing what others dream of doing, the glory of sports mastery, with all the bedroom doors athletic achievement opens, are all enticements to youth, calling them like sirens out at sea.  Many leave the shelter of traditional education and, “go the home school,” route to chase the dream of surf glory.

Women of The Waves:

A little research into the sport leads us to discover a surging sea of women surfers, champions among them.  In Iran, recently, women have taken to the surf with all its political and social implications of freedom, this is a daring act.  They wear fully covering clothing but they are athletes, none-the-less.  On can only admire these strong women.

The world has fewer professional female surf champions. Names of beauties on boards pop-up, but the one that touches my heart is Lisa Anderson.  She is an inspiration on a surfboard.  She fought her way from being a Florida runaway to an international champion wining titles and fame, surfing through pregnancies, competing with men.  Her story shakes you of notions that surfing is a privileged sport and points to the possibility of surfing as a life saving endeavor.  However, the prizes for women tend to be smaller than those awarded to men and sponsorship more difficult  to come by.

The Hawaiian Hero:

The current world champion, Hawaiian, John John Florence is a pleasure to behold; taught by his mother to surf before he could stand.  His physical beauty, Adonis curls and cherubic features, make him an adornment on the waves.  In Northshore, a rural community, on the country side of Oahu, with a heavy stream of international tourists descending upon it, large hand written signs celebrating the local hero abound.

The world of surfing gives us much to contemplate in terms of human achievement and potential.  Technological advances and daring innovators lead the way world to bigger and bigger wave surfing, one is inspired to think that every up and down in life is there for us to learn how to face life’s oscillations with a spirit of adventure.  In Hawaii, close to nature, untouched mountains and inviting warm seas spirituality takes on a new meaning, with new shimmering depths.  Yet, the potential dangers of surfing: broken necks and slashed limbs, shark attacks and other hazards not publicized are part of every serious surf aficionado’s concerns.

In conclusion:

Here in Oahu, one feels inspired by the sport and the beauty.  Thus, compelled to think about the perpetual, the enduring, issues that define life.  We mediate on what makes living a delight.  Artists paint seascapes and mountain portraits, attempting to capture the spirit of Aloha.  Musicians compose music to honor the Hawaiian spirit.

How do we integrate all that thoughtful and healing creativity into our day-to-day lives?  What better question for our family to dive deep into the depths of contemplation on a Christmas/High Holiday day?

Best wishes to everyone!

(Thank you for reading all the stories here, at this time, are written by artist, Frau Kolb from New York, a long term Southern California resident.  If you like this article, this ad-free web-site; note that comments, donations, and shares are encouraged. )