I have never considered myself to be an activist or environmentalist. But as I make my way through life, I am starting to think that maybe everyone has one hidden inside of them. As humans, we may have invented the concept of “bad,” but we are so obviously meant for good. It is just a matter of finding it.
For years, cycling was my passion. It was a way to make environmental impact, burn calories and see life from another perspective. Years later, surfing would come along and widen that perspective. I spent the winter of 2005 laid up with a cycling injury. By spring, I was starting to feel like myself again. A friend offered to take me surfing and the idea of water sounded therapeutic. It all started out so innocently.
Within the first week, I was hopelessly in love and was already putting my job on the line with ridiculous requests to come in at 6 AM so I could leave by 4 in order to surf after work. I would soon learn that it was easier to go before work and come in a little late. In retrospect, I have no idea how I did not get fired.
Last summer, after a bout of environmental disaster-induced depression, I decided to get more involved with beach cleanups and going to the occasional Surfrider meeting. The BP oil spill was killing everything in the Gulf, and it seemed never-ending. I would go to work, turn on the computer, look at pictures of oil-covered pelicans and cry. It was f*ing ridiculous.
I learned that the only way to be informed and still be happy is to make positive impact even if only in small ways. I had to push aside the hopelessness and put my energy towards good. A couple of friends and I attended a peaceful protest against off-shore drilling at one of our beloved surf spots. “Ok,” I thought, “This feels better.”
I now find going to Surfrider meetings and beach cleanups to be comforting and rewarding because you get to work together towards a common good. Not everyone is a public speaker, or a group leader, or a writer or even a surfer, but you find a way to fill a need. You find your place.
Surfing has made me feel more connected to the earth, the ocean and to other like-minded people. It has opened my eyes to the unwritten covenant–that we are all naturally born activists and environmentalists. And that we are all caretakers of this place. This much I know.
Everyone has that little light inside of them just waiting to shine.