This time of year is a holiday for many bloggers and I am no exception to those of us who need a brief period of reflection; however, I would still like to share a few thoughts and experiences before I bid you all a Happy New Year.
Many of us now have ‘Bucket Lists’ of things we want to do before we die, it seems a popular trend. However, I regard myself as truly lucky to have had the life I have had, where I have mostly travelled and achieved most of the things I always wanted to do. So there are few things left on my list, but if push came to shove I would say there are two I have had for the past 20 years. The first is to catch a blue or black marlin (and then let it go of course). I have tried and tried, caught everything from a kingfish, a wahoo, a yellow fin tuna even a couple of sharks, but never, ever a marlin. The second and most important thing for me, as a keen surfer, was always to somehow get a chance to be spat out of a Pipeline barrel wave off Oahu island Hawaii, and experience the surfing thrill of a lifetime. So last year, when I was handed a very long shot to get there, if only Lady Luck would smile on me, I jumped at that chance.
Surfing in Australia 2011
It was a year ago today that I flew into Istanbul, having taken, what turned out to be a massive diversion from the normal route to Panama, where I intended tuning my surfing skills back up to competition standard, just so I could be with the woman I loved for a single night. And yet I was in such a happy place I remember little of, what turned out to be, for one reason or another, the following 41 hour journey to Panama City. However, it wasn’t meant to be, because after some small local successes my anterior acrutiate ligament gave way, at the worst possible moment, on top of a wave called The Silverback (because it has the wipe-out punch of a gorilla!) and my season was over for ever.
Now despite being told by my surgeon, that I can never ski or surf again, without risking serious knee injury, I sometimes entertain thoughts of changing legs and re-training to lead with my left – something I could never master before. So a year on, although that girlfriend may now be seeking a new love, and many other things have changed in my life, any revised bucket list may well still have that marlin catch at number two but the new number one would now be a much more modest and simple wish, that one day I can surf again – no Silverback, no Pipeline to master, just feeling that special oneness with the ocean again is all I would ask.
And yet, following a series of personal lows, which all seemed to culminate last week, with the disappearance of my furry best friend, such things as doing and achieving anything all suddenly felt irrelevant. My little cat has stuck with me, through highs and lows and listened to every gripe and song and even watched me dance, but when I discovered a few neighborhood cats had died, from what looked like deliberate poisoning, I realised, as I checked every dumpster-bin for a 2 kilometre radius of my house, that there are some things in life that you have very little control of, especially, when it comes to protecting the people and things we love.
When she returned to me just as I was about to give up looking on that second night, I think I finally got it. It is truly not about what you achieve in this life that matters, it is more about who you achieve it with. Be that family, friends, or our lovers or yes, even our pets – for without them, to share, and enjoy what we achieve, it can sometimes all feel a little pointless.
So don’t waste too much time creating those lists and resolutions for next year, when often the most important things in life are already all around you, if only you opened your eyes.
Happy New Year and All the very best for 2014!