For something completely different.
Daughn Gibson – In the Beginning
For something completely different.
Daughn Gibson – In the Beginning
When one writes, one never knows who will read what you post. When you hit the publish button, you suddenly lose control of the product.
Lately I have read some stories about people who have passed on. In my life, I have had friends who have decided to wrap it up and they left a lot of loved ones in pain. So I have decided to once again put out some stories about my life. If you ever have the chance to read the book, Legacy of Stoke; you can find a segment of my life story as one of the featured stories within the book. If you have read the book, you will recognize some of what you will read today.
Some of my earliest memories involve the doctors office. Tests and the doctor monitoring my output. I also have a lot of great memories of my family and friends. I will not say that I was bullied. The other kids liked me. But at some point, I stumble upon the feelings of the dejected kids and the feeling of failure playing sports. So for me, sports just seemed like a world that I was not a part of.
By the 5th grade, things would start to change. I met a few kids that were not like my usual group of friends. At some point, one of them would take me to the beach and I would struggle to catch a wave. The experience would change my life forever.
So I had a lot to overcome. I started as the last person in the line and I had to work twice as hard to catch up to my friends. But in my mind, I knew from the day that I saw the top pros surf in real life that I was going to be just like one of them. I was completely committed to my dream and I was not going to give up.
From here, the story begins to go in many directions. Highs that many can not imagine. Traveling at a young age. Women. Great jobs. Being sponsored. People that supported my non-productive attitude.
Then the lows.
The partying. Relationships built on image more than anything. The fights. There were things that were far worse but that is for another time and place.
The Winter Park house was in a sense the symbolism of making it. It was myself and 3 friends living in the shadow of wealth. But the reality was the whole picture was a happy facade built over a pile of troubles. We were 4 guys each with a drastically different view on what we wanted out of life.
After several poorly thought out episodes in my house, I decided it was time to gather up what was mine in the house (which was a lot of the items we were using) and return to my parents house. This move basically killed 3 friendships that I had for years but saved my relationship with my girlfriend.
Soon after the move, my long time girlfriend enjoyed a vacation without me. Maybe too much since she ended up as the newest conquest of a scuba class instructor. So now, I was really reeling.
With my life turned upside down, I still had my passion, which was surfing in contests to see me through. So I showed up at the NKF Pro on my birthday weekend and notched up a solid result. I was beyond elated. So to celebrate, my other friends who had sided with me and I decided to visit a few bars in our downtown.
When I awoke that morning, I was in some serious pain. I called in sick to work which I rarely do. That day I tried to sleep it off but it was not helping. By that night I was having a hard time with basic things and I knew I had to see a doctor.
When I opened my eyes a few days later, I was greeted with a bright light and men. Men in Haz-mat suits. I was tied to the bed. This was the start of a long, hard chapter.
A few weeks later I was helped into a wheelchair and the nurse rolled me down to the curb. The car door opened and I was positioned into the passenger seat. My face pressed against the window and the car began to pull out of my temporary residence. My parents spoke to me and some times the words were overshadowed by a wash of pain.
Then after a check up the doctor told me about the loss of hearing in my right ear and how to do exercises to help loosen up my arm that was stuck in an L shape. He also spoke about how I might have contracted meningitis.
So now my life had changed. I was 30 pounds lighter and I was an invalid. That was something that did not sit well with me. But my lack of strength made any form of exercising almost unbearable. But I had to do something. So I started doing very small movements to regain strength.
During my stay in the hospital and the months afterwards, I found that it was a core group of friends who drove me to places and took me out of the house that visited me the most in the hospital. These same friends would help me years later when others would fall silent.
Months later I was back in the ocean. But it was not the fairy tale beginning. My frail arms would not respond to the commands my brain was sending. So I try to lift my body up to stand on two unresponsive arms. My board convulsed violently and more often than not I was tossed off the side of the board.
Then came a break through for me. A long, lazy cutback complete with a hit off the foam. Something I did in my sleep since I was ten now almost brought me to tears. I was regrouping and regaining what I had lost.
On land, I had to repay a hefty mountain of bills. So I doubled down and tried to work as much overtime as I could to pay down the debt. As time went by, things with my employer began to sour and I finally decided to leave.
In 1995, I strolled into the Human Resource department and confidently explained why I was the perfect fit for the company. A few days later I was signing off on my paperwork and getting ready to start another great chapter in my life. I was financially solid and outwardly no one could tell that just a few years ago I was fighting for my life. I could now surf as good as before and some said even better than before my illness.
My job was like a dream. It was extremely demanding but rewarding. The reputation of the company was solid. I was all set to cruise into retirement. I had dedicated 13 years and was looking forward to hitting the ever important fifteen year mark.
Then came a few months of turmoil and the final shocking news that the company was bought out by a company that was far smaller. Then the new owners began to make a lot of changes that disrupted the system the company was built upon. Which led to me being laid off. In fact, the first employee to be laid off in the companies extremely long history.
From 1995 to 2011, the business environment had changed greatly. With me being a happy worker bee, I never took notice of the changes. When I walked out the door that day, I was extremely confident that one of my many friends would take me in and I would be working in no time. However, with the recession still in effect, this was not the case at all. So I put it out that I was looking for employment and was greeted with silence or that they were to busy to drop by Human Resources. So by the time I found an employer, my finances were once again in turmoil.
One week, I sat down and began to hammer out the math. I had my son on my days off. Payday was on Friday. I had to pay bills X, Y, and Z. I needed G for gas and F for food for my son and I. Then there was T for the toilet paper we had run out of. I began to do the math and no matter how I tried, I came up negative ten dollars. The only answer was for me not to eat for a day and feed my son instead. I had exhausted everything. The cans. Sold things. Took the change to the Coinstar machine. So I prayed.
The next morning, I had to pick up my son when school let out. I had to buy the toilet paper of course. So I went to the local CVS Pharmacy. I strolled around the store with the cheapest, generic toilet paper that I could find in my hand just looking at things that I could not buy. Then I walked by the candy aisle. The boxes of chocolate bars were calling to me but looking at the small bills in my wallet; it was a call that I could not do. I walked the aisle. Mounds Bars, Kit Kats… Then I saw one box containing my favorite one and besides it…something in a box. I looked and it was money. I walked closer and looked again. I looked around me. Not a soul in sight. I walked to the end of the aisle. No one. I walked back and looked again to see if it was a joke. I reached into the box and it was a twenty dollar bill.
After paying for the toilet paper, I sat in my car and held the twenty and tears began to well up in my eyes. Not only would I eat but I would go into the next week with ten extra dollars and at that point, ten dollars to me was a hundred dollars.
Today I am not where I want to be financially but I am not down to my last dollar every week. I am healthy and I am in a managers position. The point being that as long as you wake up and put in an effort to change your life; there is always an opportunity that your life will be different than it is when you are at your lowest.
At times it may seem hopeless.
When you operate a business, you face days that are disasters. The call ins start. The crowd is bigger than what you thought. You run out of a much needed product. Something always happens. Someone volunteers to stay over. The shipment arrives!
At some point you clock out and drive home.
You will get through.
I have been seeing a common theme within my blogging circle in which many are getting smacked around by life events and are regrettably not posting as frequently as they would like. Life happens and unfortunately some events are not cheery ones.
At first when this would happen, I too would get down. But over time, I found that at times I would pour myself into a post and hit publish and then I would wait for the magic to happen! And I would check my stats and well…nothing big. No likes. No great comments. More waiting.
Then some day, a year later it would get read 34 times over a few days. The numbers would surge upwards. I would smile. Then things would turn back to status quo.
So basically, I learned that I really had no control of those days when the views would triple or when I would get a group of new followers. I had to learn to create something that I felt was good and then let it free. At some point, someone who is at a point in their life that the story will resonate with them will get it. And other stories will not. So really, missing a few days here and there will not ruin things for you. Some people wait years for an author or a musician to release something new.
So that brings me to this post. I was busy with work and missed my weekly Noise to Note! song. At first I just thought of slipping in one early on Monday morning but even that did not work out.
Then today, my kiddo and I were eating at a restaurant and they were pipping in some good old 80s synth-pop through the PA system. Then I heard a song that was unfamiliar to me. I found out it was from a band that I knew about but was completely wrong in my assumption of what style of music they played.
I had heard of Snow Patrol but I thought they were some kind of pop-punk band and from what I heard this is not the case (Some fans are probably rolling their eyes about now).
So here it is…
Snow Patrol – The Symphony.
I recently posted on Facebook about the awful conditions for surfing and an old buddy chimed in that poor conditions never stopped us before. His response made me chuckle as a wave of memories flooded over me.
I am scared of heights. I do not consider myself a daredevil by any stretch. Yet, somehow I find myself in some pretty extreme situations and my reaction is usually nothing more than a slight smile.Getting rattled does not seem to be in my DNA.
As a child, I would certainly agree to a statement saying that I had a lot of unsupervised time. There is a famous story of a 5 year old Steve arming himself with a can of insect killer and a flyswatter and then convincing my cousin to climb a nearby tree with me. Once we reached a decent height, we unleashed our fury on the nest of the local wasps. As they emerged, we began to pummel their nest like starving kids beating at a pinata.
Our well thought plan worked for several minutes. After that glory was over, we were returned back to the reality of being a few goofballs with a swarm of angry bees taking their anger out on us.
Through the years this story made me laugh. When I became a parent myself, I instantly started thinking what most parents would think. How did we get all of these items and slip out of the house and no one saw us? Do not get me wrong, my parents were simply the best. But hovering parents they were not.
Due to this parenting philosophy, as the years passed, our group of friends began amassing a growing list of adventures. Like a modern band of wannabe Huckleberry Finns, we found ourselves faced with one test after the next…and we loved it.
As the drops of rain began to slow as the afternoon thunderstorm began to exhaust itself, an abandoned raft began to shudder and lift on the deserted beach. Then it flipped over to reveal what had been hiding under it…a group of teenage boys. Each armed with a surfboard.
When they left Captains, they had to play by the rules and not anger the older local guys. But at Captains, they were free to do what they pleased. They dodged the tank traps that separated the outside from the inside reef. They rode rafts and those cheap unglassed styrofoam boards that you find in tourist shops in pounding conditions. What ever came to mind was attempted with varying results.
Our gang also roamed Ewa Beach and explored the forest and the old military sites that were long abandoned. We fished and climbed from Mangrove Tree to Mangrove Tree around the local lagoon. And when Ewa was just to boring, we boarded the city bus and found ourselves skating the streets of Pearl City or Honolulu.
My Uncle had a place in Makua and towards the end of my time in Hawaii, we found ourselves hanging out with the friends and relatives in this country paradise. The surf in this stretch is unforgiving. When Pray for Sex starts breaking, it produces a heavy left off the rock. When it is not breaking, your only choice is to take on the ferocious shorepound that was inhabited by bodyboarders…and on occasion; a wiry kid on a beat up red single fin. I think I must have been barreled over a thousand times at Makua and I do not think I made one single barrel. Just wave after wave of getting that view we all love and then getting shut down. And by a minor miracle, I never broke the poor red board.
So in the next installment, I will tell a few tales of a daredevil nature!
There are several versions of this song out and the original at first to me was the best. When this version originally hit MTV, I did not like it as much at first. But as time went on, I changed my mind because this version has a deeper sense of orchestration that heightens the song and has more of a live feeling to it.
So here is The Fixx doing Red Skies at Night.
I have been putting on some heavy music lately so now I feel it is time to switch it up some.
Laura Gibson-Empire Builder
A tale about how confusing it can be to move on…
Most people who are at the top of their profession are known for having similar attributes. They study their craft. They put in extra, extra, extra effort and they eat, sleep, and drink dreaming of being the top. Then there was me…The Reluctant Champ.
As a kid, I was focused on being great at surfing. But in the down time, I often skateboarded and fished around my home beaches. Then came a Christmas gift. A Morey Boogieboard. My buddy Jerry got one too. So I would surf and then come in for an hour and return with the bodyboard and goof off doing 360s and pulling into utter closeouts. It was pretty fun!
Years later, my amateur career was in full swing. My contest buddies and I were keen to win a trophy in surfing but there was a lot of downtime between heats. So we eyed the smorgasboard of other side events that were running; kneeboarding, longboarding, and even bodyboarding.
I hate to rat anyone out but yes, several of us entered the bodyboard events. One being a very famous world professional surfing champion with a bald head. So there we were, slapping on jersey and trying to get another trophy.
At first it was fun and games and we all experienced some mild successes. But as time went on, I kept getting better and better results and my ranking increased. Somewhere at this point, the fun and games ended for Kelly and David and they returned their focus back to the surfing events but for me, it just kept snowballing.
Then I found myself entering stand alone Bodyboard events and I was picking up trophies there as well.
Oddly, the more I improved; the more I felt that this was distracting me from my stand up surfing goals. I also was not willing to seriously commit to bodyboarding more than a few hours every week. If that.
One afternoon, I stumbled down to the mailbox and inside there was a letter. It was from Morey Boogie. When I opened it, it was an entry form and an invitation. An invitation to the Pipeline Masters! This was something that made me feel odd. The reality was that I felt that I did not belong and there was someone who really wanted that spot and worked hard that I beat out. So I gave my spot to the next person in line.
By this time, I had also picked up a sponsor and they were trying to work out a plan to get me into their management team. Their plans made me queasy. They kept mentioning eventually sending me to their main factory where they also made toys along with the bodyboards. Oh yeah…the factory was far from the ocean.
Jumping the tracks
After another year, I had once again turned down a spot in the Pipeline Masters. Then came The Southeast Regional Championships held by The Eastern Surfing Association. Once again, I did double duties and after a 7th place in Mens Surfing, I took to the finals in bodyboarding. I knew the spot being a local and found myself throwing barrel rolls and 360s on some of the best sets. When it was all said and done, I came in second and was now one of the top rated bodyboarders in North America.
Then came my odd set back and my big surfing swan song. It all came about due to one very infamous trip to California which resulted in me not getting my entry into the championships in on time. After that, it only made sense for me to then I turn pro to surf in the Qualifying Series.
With that came my mic drop.
I removed my fins and never entered another bodyboarding event again.