Is it fate that drives our destiny?

41exqf4mvl-_sx331_bo1204203200_1For my newly released novel I use the term Waves of Fate for my title which makes me ponder are we really bound by simple fate or do we drive our destiny through our every day actions.

The topic is certainly one that has been debated since the dawning of civilization and one that is not easily proven one way or the other.

In my follow up novel to my first one entitled “The Nonconformist”, my hero is dealt a number of heavy blows that seem to have come in waves. One of them alone could be cause to throw up ones hands and give up but how does one move on from so many so close together?

It would be easy to simply give up and feel doomed to the seemingly certain dismal fate and certainly many people do as a result of seemingly far less trials, tribulations and disappointments. One also has to ponder why one is it that some men and women do give up while others seem to be able to lift themselves up from the ashes and carry on and thrive.

Certainly faith seems to play a strong role but I believe it is also driven by an inner sense of strength and a belief that there is a silver lining laying just ahead if we keep pushing forward. I also believe it is easier to get past things with the love and support of family and friends who encourage and support us.

In my novel my hero Jon Lewis, after enduring his waves of difficulties, somehow, after sinking into despair, finds his inner strength and seemingly tempts the hands of fate in his quest to reconnect with a long lost surfing buddy, a half-sister and his Hawaiian friends including a potential former love interest.

It might be easy in the end to look back and say, “It was my fate that things ended up the way they did” but again I don’t believe we could ever say this with any degree of certainty. If Jon had done nothing and just accepted his fate would the outcome have been his fate and destiny? Or, did he create his destiny and fate through his moving forward and taking action?

I’m still not certain, but as for me I’d feel a lot better about whatever situation I find myself in knowing I didn’t throw up my hands and accept whatever and instead tried to create my destiny.

Thanks for checking in this week and my hope is that you, as the slogan went in the movie “Galaxy Quest”, “never give up, never surrender”. Take care and I hope to see you back here again soon.

Aloha, Paul

P.S. Please check out both of my novels at Amazon and Amazon Kindle where they are available for purchase. I also have copies available for those who are interested.

 

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A safe port in the storm

DSCI0006We tend to hold onto fond memories from our youth of special places and events. When remembering those things a smile generally comes to our face and we are often filled with a sense of well being and nostalgia.

It may be a place we visited on vacation, a family or friends home or simply a secret place that was ours alone.

For me, it was the old log cabin vacation cottage my grandparents owned for a time on Deep Creek Lake in Maryland which I recently painted to help hold onto the memory of the place and it’s importance in my life’s remembrances.

For me it was a safe port in the often violent storm that was our home growing up. With grandparents, aunts, uncles and assorted other guests in attendance, there were too many caring eyes on us for tensions within our family unit to boil over or to allow our parents to get away with the things they were allowed to with no one else present.

This allowed we kids to let  our guard and hair down and simply enjoy being kids. The same also seemed to be true for our parents who seemed to be on their best behavior during our infrequent but enjoyable visits.

As a child, the lake and time with relatives gave us countless activities to enjoy. There were cruises and fishing trips along the lake in our grandparents skiff and Chris Craft speedboat, family card games at night and time listening to the adults tell stories from their youth. There was great food cooked up by our beloved Aunt Ethel and for me there was the endless checker matches with my grandfather that I most enjoyed even though I never won against him even after he suffered his stroke.

My grandfather was a champion fly fisherman and tried his best to teach us how to fish properly. While I loved fishing with the him and the family I honestly sucked at it. I remember one time standing on their dock for what seemed  like an eternity without getting a single bite and then being completely humiliated when my younger sister walked out and as she was lowering her line a fish literally jumped out off the water and onto her hook. At the time I was demoralized by it but in later years it became one of the stories that was told and retold and eventually became only a funny memory for me.

That seems to be the way things go with such memories and places. In the end, we are only left with fond memories and nostalgia.

We all need such safe havens from the storms of our lives and it behooves us all to create such places for our children, grandchildren and relatives if at all possible. I know it’s easy at times to let bad memories take over our consciousness and to become angry and bitter. As such it helps to try and remember and hold onto the good memories also.

I believe that if we do we will all be a lot happier and healthier and there will be many more safe ports in this world.

Thanks for checking in this week. Take care and I wish you the best until next time.

Aloha, Paul

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Legen (wait for it) dary

may 10 surf photo 2I was a big fan of the TV show “How I met your mother” and remember Barney often saying legen (wait for it) dary when he was describing his sexual exploits.

We all often hear the word legendary used to describe people or occurrences and the word takes on an aura of it’s own. It is used for great athletes, political leaders (well at least some), scientists, actors, business leaders and on and on.

Some of those we tag with the legendary status might do legendary things over a long period of time, some would not be called legendary except for one great thing they did like Joan of Arc or Jack (the giant slayer). Some realize there status during their lifetimes and some only after they are gone and in retrospect when the world realizes the magnitude of what they did. There are also some who become legends simply because they lived long enough to become one.

Some are legendary on a universal basis and some only within a small group, kind of like the Barney Stinson character. There are also some of us are only legendary in our own minds.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I tend to diminish what I have accomplished based on what others have done especially within the areas that I am involved in whether it be surfing, art, business or whatever. I suppose that comes from my tendency to be more than a bit self-effacing and unwilling at times to give myself credit where credit is due. I’m sure I’m not alone though in that respect.

I certainly pondered the thought when I was writing my novels “The Nonconformist” and “The Waves of Fate”. My character Jon Lewis tended to always feel a bit in awe of his surfing buddies despite his own accomplishments. It was only after stepping back from it, looking back and truly listening to the praise of others that he finally realized the extent of his accomplishments and his place within the group, the bigger world and the sport.

The truth was, he was a great surfer in his own rite but more importantly an even better person due to his honesty, loyalty and love and devotion of others.

What I’ve come to realize is that you don’t have to be the best at something or given great acclaim or given the legendary tag to be of great value. It’s also not a sin to, from time to time, acknowledge your accomplishments and graciously accept what praise comes your way.

I accept that I’m no legend when it comes to my surfing, art, volunteering or business endeavors. That’s ok as I am becoming comfortable with where I am within those arenas and that alone is good enough for me. And who knows if I live long enough I just might become a legend by default.

Thanks for checking in this week and continue to be the living legend you are.

Aloha, Paul

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Editing the Warts of the Environment

DSCI0025It is said that both painters and novelists are allowed a certain degree of poetic license. In other words they can make things up.

In my novels I make up characters, events and even places that don’t exist or never happened. In my art I don’t leave in everything I see and sometimes add things in a scene that aren’t there. I call it editing out the warts and adding in some additional beauty.

Nature scenes are where this occurs the most for me. In the attached photo you don’t see the trash on the beach or in the water and the water looks clean and inviting.

Sometimes I have a difficult time doing this editing as I feel I’m “not keeping it real” but in the end, I paint how I see or better yet want to remember or see nature. I also understand that people rarely want to hang a painting on their wall that shows the trash along the beach, dead dolphins on the shore or a nuclear silo in the background.

While this would be the way to go in a photograph or documentary it’s simply not that pleasing to the eye.

The truth is, we want to remember and view nature in the manner it was meant to be enjoyed or how we remember it from our youth.

Whenever I go to various new locales I like to visit the state parks or wildlife and scenic preserves. (By the way, it’s amazing how few people I actually see in some of the preserves) I love to take in nature and look for scenes I can later paint.

To my chagrin, I am seeing a lot less of the nature I used to see in such preserves and a lot more warts.

As an example, this past week Kathy and I were in the Tarpon Springs, FL area for her work. While she was toiling in her meetings I took in the parks and preserves in the area. While the parks I visited were very nice, at the same time, after spending a great deal of time in them I noticed some disturbing things.

The first was the amount of trash that lined the waterways and walking paths. I also noticed the lack of shore birds that should have been present. I also noticed the low amount of fish that were in the lakes and tributaries and the brownish or greenish tint to the water (not the natural kind).

Along one of the tributaries I watched a lone fisherman cast his line over and over again without a single bite. At the lake I spoke with a man who had fished the area for eighteen years. The man told me the fishing had fallen off dramatically over the years. He said the bulkhead where he was fishing used to be lined from end to end with fisherman now there was only himself and his two companions present.

He also told me that the previous year the algae blooms were so bad that they had to skim the lake because they were clogging up propellers.

Within the park there are some beautiful Cyprus, Live Oaks and other native plants that lined the waterfront. As I walked along the walkway that goes out over the lake for a short ways I spotted a beautiful shorebird standing along the shore. Surrounding him was all sorts of trash. I intend to paint the scene but will have to edit out the warts.

The brochure for that lake illustrates people swimming, boating and waterskiing. I only saw a few boats out on the lake in what was a beautiful day, no one was swimming or waterskiing (no way I’d dive in there) and there were very few shore birds around and that’s probably because of the lack of fish.

I am not trying to pick on that area but unfortunately it is symptomatic of a lot of our beautiful state and country. I used to visit those same areas as a child and remember why people loved to come visit the area. There were tons of birds, fish and people swimming and boating.  Unfortunately it’s losing a lot of it’s appeal and it honestly makes me sad.

I don’t want to have to edit out the warts and add in the things I remember being around. I’d like to have future generations see nature at it’s best and future artists to be able to paint what they see. My hope is that we treasure such places by protecting them and doing whatever we can in our own way to do so.

Thanks for checking in. I hope you have a great week and I look forward to seeing you back here again next time.

Aloha. Paul

 

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Counting and Keeping Track

the-nonconformist-3Ok, I’ll admit it, I count things. I don’t do it on purpose so I suppose it has to do with something I was born with (God only knows what makes my funny little brain work). I count steps I take, strokes taken while paddling to the outside, the amount of times I pedal my bike and I also count cards (I’m sure they wouldn’t like me in Vegas at the card tables). These are just a few of the things I count but I’m sure you get the picture.

I also can add things up quickly by just looking at numbers. I seem to know things like scores from sports contests before they are announced and often have premonitions of things that eventually happen.

As I said before, these aren’t things I consciously do, I just unwittingly do them.

I suppose that’s why I like painting, surfing and sports of all kinds. While I’m in the middle of doing those things I suppose my mind is so focused on the task that there isn’t time to count.

It would seem then that I would also be one to keep track of things but for some reason I don’t. I just doesn’t seem logical to me to do so and I suppose it’s also because I’m a bit of a free spirit and fly by the seat of my pants for the most part. I’m also certain that if I did I’d most likely drive myself nuts.

I knew a surfer who lived on the Outer Banks. The guy was cool but for some reason he kept a log of every surf session he ever had. He not only kept track of the conditions but also the weather, the rides he took, who he surfed with along with other little factoids of his session.

At first I thought it was pretty cool and even considered doing it myself but in the end it just seemed like way too much work. Just think, I’ve been surfing over 50 years now. Now lets say I surfed on average 75 days per year. If that were the case, I’d have surfed 3,750 times. Who could ever have the time after it was all said and done to read that much stuff.

It’s kind of like people who have thousands upon thousands of digital photos in their devices. How could you ever have the time to view them all. I have only about a hundred in mine and I feel overwhelmed.

It just seems to me that we are keeping track of way too much stuff. People have home monitoring systems that they check constantly throughout the day, they have monitor wrist bands that tell them how much they have walked, breathed, burned off and who knows what else. Some people even check their stock portfolio endless times per day week.

I honestly don’t want to know what’s going on with my home all day, what the kids or the dog are doing and if there is someone loitering outside my home. I also don’t want to have an up to the minute analysis of my health. In the end it would simply overload me with information and make me paranoid. Besides, I already am way too busy counting things.

Thanks for checking in this week. I hope you have a great weekend free of having to keep track of so many things and simply living in the moment.

Aloha, Paul

 

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The Cell Free Surf Zone

IMG_2764There are so many things I love about surfing but there is one thing that I’ve added to the list of late and it’s that, at least until now as I know it will change, it is a place pretty much free of cellular devices.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the value of technology. It gives us information quickly and helps us to communicate, work, sell products and services and keep up with each others lives. But while I get the infatuation with it, at the same time I get sick of having to deal with it on a 24/7 basis.

Everywhere you go people are attached to it like it’s an extra appendage and seem to be mesmerized by it. I know, people hate to feel like they’ve missed out on something or to see how many responded to a recent tweet or post that they’ve made or a text that just came in. I get it, I really do, but I’m the type who prefers a real conversation and doesn’t want or need to get or give information that quickly.

I had a job a few years back where my boss wanted us to be connected 24/7 and he drove us nuts with it. Ten or so years ago it was a lot easier to escape from it but not now. They know or can find out where you are so it’s hard to hide or say you were at a meeting somewhere when you were really surfing because that’s what you do when the surf is up.

So yah it’s great to paddle out into the lineup and not hear the ring, beep, song or whatever is on someone’s device and actually have a real and uninterrupted conversation with someone.

That’s not to say that surfers, at least not while out in the surf, are huge conversationalists. The truth is, no matter how engaged in a conversation they are, when a good wave comes along the conversation ends, at least temporarily and the wave is pursued. (yes I am guilty as charged).

That said, once the last wave ridden has been discussed you can generally pick up the on the old conversation once again. In retrospect, I suppose in some ways that’s no different that when you’re trying to have a conversation with someone but they keep ignoring you while they check out a video someone sent them but just the same, at least when you’re out in the surf they have no excuse for not listening to you.

I’m sure it won’t be long until the line up is just as filled with the sound of cellular devices or whatever technology comes next at which time I’ll probably head off to some secluded break where all of us nonconformist go to escape technology for a time. In the interim though I’ll relish in simply immersing myself in the simple glory of hearing the roar of the ocean, the sound of gulls on the wing and the occasional conversation between sets.

Thanks for checking in this week, I hope you have a great week and hopefully get some quality time out in the cell free surf zone or wherever you go to escape reality. Lastly, lets never forget to respect the beach and do our little part to help the environment.

Aloha, Paul

 

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Mind/Matter vs. Matter/Mind

DSCI0022“The mind is a terrible thing to waste Paul”. That’s not really where I was planning on going with this post. I suppose the voices of teachers and parents past are still ringing in my ears.

Lest I digress, and go down a very painful road, the idea of matter versus mind came to me during several surf sessions of late.

I recently had shaped for me the board in the picture. It is a 6’3″ stinger rocket, modified single fin, channel bottom board. I pride myself on being able to ride almost any shape that comes my way. In my quiver I have a 5’11” performance twin fin, a 6’2″ baked potato fun shape that I shaped myself, a 6’4″ thruster and a 6’8″ high performance thruster for big surf. I also sometimes ride long boards that I borrow for those days when that’s all that really works.

When I set up the fin on the new board, Tony of COS where I work, advised me to set the fin way back so it wouldn’t be too loose. Unfortunately I didn’t listen to Tony as a guy that rides updated single fins said it would work best moved forward and also because I thought I could handle the speed and looseness of it. (mind/matter)

Well, when I dropped in on my first wave and went for a big cutback I obviously couldn’t handle the speed and the board literally shot right out from under me. Yes Tony got in a good “I told you so”, and I have since moved the fin back and am now slowly getting the board wired. I guess it wasn’t named the Stinger Rocket for nothing.

I also detest wearing a full wet suit so I try and wear as little rubber as possible when I feel I can. Fortunately we have had a pretty mild winter with water temps in the low to mid sixties for much of the winter and as such I’ve only worn my full suit a hand full of times.

Unfortunately we had a recent cold spell that brought the temps back down into the upper fifties to low sixties. Despite that knowledge, I decided to paddle out this week in only a light spring suit top. Needless to say, that morning I froze my butt off. I stayed out for about an hour and a half and although I got some good rides, the coldness made my back lock up that evening and It’s just beginning to loosen up now. (matter/mind)

I certainly don’t need to be told that I’m getting older because my body and the mirror keep reminding me of it. At the same time, I’m still committed to doing the things I love like surfing, tennis and snowboarding at as high a level as I possibly can for as long as I can.

I am fairly certain that my ability to do so thus far has a lot to do with my high level of desire and my not willing to let matter win the battle over mind. The sad truth though, is that as time goes on I’m finding that matter seems to want to keep winning the battle and will most likely get the upper hand more and more.

But one thing is for certain, I’m not giving in without a fight and I’ll try to make the most of those times when mind seems to have been able to get the upper hand.

I have always told myself (don’t we all talk to ourselves?) that when I walk out to the beach and am fearful of paddling out, that I will know that matter has finally won and I will walk away from the sport and hope I can live off the many good memories I have of being a part of perhaps the greatest of activities on the planet.

So in closing, all I can say is “catch me if you can matter”. I hope you can also for as long as you can. Take care, have a great week and I hope to see you back here again soon or out in the surf.

Aloha, Paul

P.S. If you haven’t done so yet please check out my new novel “The Waves of Fate” which deals a bit with mind over matter and how we handle loss and diminished abilities. It, and my other books can be found on Amazon and Amazon Kindle. Thanks

 

 

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