Gerry Lopez grew up in Hawaii, where he spent lots of time barefoot, surfing empty breaks with his friends and family, and communing with the ocean.
I just finished his book, Surf is Where you Find It, a collection of surf-related stories from throughout his life. I was struck by the ease with which Gerry floats through life, taking the various winds, currents, ripples, and waves as they come. As far as I can tell, he has zero enemies, is genuinely loved and respected throughout surf culture, and still loves surfing and the ocean as much as he did as a barefoot grom on the rollers of Waikiki.
His life is one of singular focus coupled with a divine ability to read and adapt to his environment. Lopez is wholly aware of his surroundings, whether it’s surviving dangerous surf, making business decisions, or navigating the complex landscape of celebrity.
This sort of focus/vision is something that I aspire to. It’s a skill that seems so straightforward — just keep your eyes (and ears) open and pay attention. Listen closely. Being a surfer, I know that 90% of surfing is just paying attention and being able to read the ocean. But in surf, as in life, there are always distractions that cloud our vision and muffle our hearing — social and cultural filters that we are born with or pick up inadvertently along the way. As Lopez says, “Don't talk in the lineup unless you want to get caught inside.”
Gerry has spent much of his life as a waterman, a businessman, an adventurer, a pioneer, and an ambassador of not just surf, but all around Aloha coolness. But above all, he is an artist, fully committed to a life with a singular focus.
However, artists with this sort of singular focus are often faced with difficult life decisions that require them to be either selfless or selfish. Do I chase waves around the world or stay home with my family? Do I work late or go home to have dinner with my family? Do I even get married, have kids, and start a family? Somehow, Lopez seems to have found a way to duck dive under this wave as well — which is a true testament to his ability to see.
At the end of the book, he lists five rules that he has created for himself:
1. Surf to surf tomorrow, never surf like there's no tomorrow.
2. Pace yourself.
3. Don't talk in the lineup unless you want to get caught inside.
4. Never, ever, take the first wave of the set.
5. The best surfer in the water is the guy having the most fun.
I couldn't agree more. Thanks G-Lo!