Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December 11, Thursday evening -- Gerry Lopez signing his book

After photographing tourists at the beach, I stopped in at the Waikiki Public Library and asked where I might find locals reading. The librarian suggested the Ala Moana Center--a shopping mall in Honolulu. I got on the bus, found the mall, and, while roaming around looking for readers, happened upon a book signing at the Kahala Sportswear store. The host thanked a crowd of outdoorsmen for coming out in the worst storm of the year.
Legendary Hawaiian surfer, Gerry Lopez, was in town to talk to a group of "in the know" surfers -- the event wasn't publicized other than word of mouth.

I stopped to listen and felt immediately relaxed. Up to this point, I'd been feeling sort of "go-go-go." I was anxious--the goal of the trip had been to photograph 100 readers in 48 hours. Listening to Gerry Lopez slowed me down and made me think. He talked about his snowboarding as well as surfing experiences. When you snowboard, he said, the mountain doesn't move. When you surf, it does. This was in response to a question someone asked about what goes through your mind when you're about to.... Wipe out? Gerry Lopez asked, finishing the question -- laughter -- and then he went on to talk about the need to relax and go with it. He said that life is more like surfing than snowboarding because, like a wave, it changes.

As I listened, my mind mellowed out. I listened to stories. It helped me to have a good remainder of my trip. People smiled at me. I could feel the aloha spirit. One of his friends, who'd played his harmonica for the event gave me a warm hug and welcomed me to the island.

The next day I spent touring the island, following the full route of the 55/52 bus, all the way up to the North Shore. When I returned to my hotel I was tired. I took a hot bath and opened the book. The first story was about how he learned to surf, at age ten. I could feel the gentle rocking of the surf board as his mom pushed him out into the water, and hear her voice when she suggested that, next time, he try standing up.
His favorite book -- Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramhansa Yogananda. He's constantly reading it.

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