Rule Number One: ‘We won’t wear suits and ties.’

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The California Surf Museum in Oceanside

I spent almost all of today getting over, what I am convinced, was one of the top 5 worst hangovers I’ve ever had.  To all you 18/19/20/21/22 year-olds, just wait.  Enjoy your spry, un-phased morning afters now, because with each year you get older, your hangovers get exponentially worse.  

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“Natalie, you want some eggs?  It will make you feel better to eat something, or it will make you throw up, which will make you feel better.”  Win win?

Despite my hangover, I had a great weekend.  I got up at 5:30 in the morning yesterday and wrote messages in chalk on the sidewalk.  After that, I paid a visit the California Surf Museum in Oceanside (pictured).

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If you’re a surfer, or even if you’re not and you’re just interested, I encourage you to go check out the museum.  They need the support, and the place is simply, awesome.  I walked out of there with a heavy helping of surf knowledge and three books.  The exhibit starts out with a profile of the life of Hobie Alter, a founding pioneer in the surfboard shaping industry.  He developed the foam and fiberglass surfboard.

Hobie had vision.  In fact, the more I learn about the surfing industry, the more I learn about remarkable people.  Visionaries.  Heroes.  In Hobie’s exhibit, they tell the story of how Hobie became a shaper:

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“On a hot summer day in 1950, Hobie Alter and his group of friends, all just graduated from high school, were laying around on the sand in Laguna Beach warming up after surfing a south swell at Brooks Street.  As pre-wetsuit chills gave way to idle chatter in the sunshine, the talk turned to the topic that was on everyone’s mind:  “What are we going to do with the rest of our lives?” 

None of them wanted to quit the way they’d been enjoying their teens – surfing, diving for lobsters, prying abalone off the rocks at low tide – living the life they knew as emergent watermen. 

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Duke Kahanamoku : The Father of Modern Surfing

Various career suggestions were made: go to college and get a degree… but in what, and then what?  Become a teacher?  Doctor, lawyer, accountant?

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Hobie suggested they were asking the wrong question.  ‘Instead of trying to figure out what we might do,’ he said, ‘let’s first make a list of what we won’t do, and go from there.’

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Hobie started if off with Rule Number One: ‘We won’t wear suits and ties.'”

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We can learn a lot from Hobie Alter.  Hobie took a risk going off on his own and taking the road less traveled.  Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is greater than reality.”  Hobie conceived an entire industry.  He imagined a different world for surfing and made it come to pass.  He invented inventions, built businesses… In short, he executed his vision.

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Same with all of them though.  DT, Nat Young, Jack O’Neill (the inventor of the wetsuit)… these people have/had some minds I wouldn’t mind hanging out in.  Not at all.

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As I walked around looking at the various exhibits, I could hear surfing conversation background noise.  “When we were surfing in Indonesia, I lost my credit card and…”  “Ponto looks really good right now.”  I looked at a skateboard exhibit, and came to, by far, my favorite part of my day at the museum.

Bethany Hamilton’s surfboard from the day of the shark attack.

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Have you ever seen “Soul Surfer”?  The movie is about Bethany Hamilton.  Bethany is a professional surfer who was attacked by a shark while surfing when she was 13.  The shark took her left arm, but she survived.  The California Surf Museum has the board she rode on loan from the Hamiltons.  I saw it, and I just stared, mouth open, for five minutes.  I probably stood there another ten.

This girl is one of my heroes.  To get that close to the board and to see the bite mark, the missing piece, it was unreal.  They also have the bathing suit she was wearing that day.

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“Isn’t that wild?  Bethany hasn’t seen it yet.”  The director of the museum, a friendly man, early 60’s.  His hair is tied in a ponytail.  He’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

“WHAT?  She hasn’t seen the board?”

“Nope.  She said she’s not ready for that yet.  The Hamiltons got rid of it because they don’t want people knocking on their door anymore, people wanting to see the board.  They also appreciate what we’re trying to do here and wanted to help attract visitors.”

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The bite

Not only is Bethany already back on her board, she’s winning competitions.  With no left arm.  They modified her boards to include a handle that helps her duck dive under waves.  

If she’s not inspiring, if she doesn’t make you believe you can transcend any limitation, I don’t know who would.  She’s faced, unimaginable mental, physical, and emotional challenges, and risen above them all.  I’m going to read her book and write a review next week.  Happy Sunday, all.

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