Yani and Pacha now go to the same, local, public schools that I went to over 30 years ago. They are good schools - providing opportunities to learn within their conventional parameters. When Yani's grade (6) had their school excursion to our faraway capital city of Canberra, we decided to stay behind (we regularly go to Canberra to visit my brother anyway and the trip was a little expensive).
Instead, Yani, just a week after his 12th birthday, went to stay with our friends who live 2 hours away in Evans Heads - able to freely surf, skate, play music (he's been teaching himself the didgeridoo) and let his spirit dream and grow. He said it was one of the best weeks of his life.
He came home with a deeper self confidence and understanding of the lifestyle that truly makes him happy. He came home with many 'first time' experiences, including being just about to go out surfing when a local man was attacked by a shark at that very beach (Evans Head)! This experience has deepened his appreciation for life and raised his awareness of his own intuition about whether or not he chooses to go out in the water or not.
He also came home with a self-made, finless, wooden surfboard - an 'Alaia', based on the inspiration of the first known surfers, the Hawaiin indigenous peoples.
His home stay host had worked with his friend who runs a local Byron Bay sawmill (Wooden Anchor) harvesting sustainably grown 'pawlonia' trees and had a spare 'blank' that Yani could work on. Yani thought deeply about the design and came up with something quite unique and so artistic - an asymmetrical design with a concave bottom, specially made to take advantage of the kinds of waves we surf on the Gold Coast on our point breaks. Yani made a little video clip about his experience that you can see here: Yani's Alaia project
Pacha and I both basked in his glow of happiness when he had his first try of his hand shaped creation - nothing can match the deep sense of contentment when you have made something with your own hands and realise that it can bring you (and many others) so much joy! He said he did his own little ceremony to introduce 'her' (he named her 'Glide') into the ocean - invoking the spirit of earth and water and making the sound of a didgeridoo through his clenched hand...deep, soul connection...Now, every time he, or Pacha, uses it, there are people who stop them to take a look and ask questions about it - it's such a great way to spread a positive message!
Here on the Gold Coast, there is a lot of emphasis on artificial happiness - happiness that is attempted to be packaged, commodified, bought and sold. It can go hand in hand with a competitive, bullying mentality that sometimes seeps into the surfing here - especially among young surfers being pushed by themselves, their parents and/or their sponsors to be 'the winner' no matter what it takes. It seems to be the opposite of the spirit of 'Aloha' - the Hawaiian indigenous word meaning: “The joyful sharing of life energy in the present”.
Yani, by sharing his 'Alaia' surfboard experience, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our friends, has reminded us of 'Aloha' and the true soul of surfing - giving and sharing the limitless power of the ocean; of nature itself.
|Yani's first ride on his Alaia board with dawn glow.|
|When not in the water, 'Glide' becomes a work of art in our home!|