There was a scary, sloshed moment sometime late last night when I became convinced that Jesse "The Body" Ventura is more of a surfer than I am.
How has it come to this?
Surfing used to be everything to me - a calling and act beyond reproach. Instant meaning, instant happiness. Each new day a revelation.
Now all I see is the hypocrisy, the posing, the selfishness and the emptiness. I feel like one of those Mormon runaways who starts smoking pot and living on the street, looking back on their childhood with only cynicism. "It was all a sham."
Last night I stumbled upon
Seriously, you can't make this shit up. For any foreign readers,
Ventura became an actor, staring in the seminal 1987 film "Predator" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not even the most paranoid, fantastical day-dreamer on shrooms could have imagined that both steroid-using musclemen would go on to be governors of actual states - Minnesota and California.
While in office, Ventura drew both criticism and praise from all sides, as his policies didn't fit neatly into the Republican or Democrat partyline. As a member of the Reform party, Ventura combined conservative financial beliefs with some liberal social beliefs - Ventura advocated the legalization of prostitution and called organized religion "a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."
This brings us to the final act in Jesse's narrative: his current role as ex-pat soul surfer in Mexico. As he recently told
Check out the clip below from May 11th on Larry King Live. Around the 8:45 mark, Ventura discusses his new obsession:
"I'm enjoying myself, trying to be the best surfer I can be down in Baja. Always remember this, Larry, surfing is a dedication. It's a life dedication to do it. If someone were as dedicated to religion, would they call him a religious bum?"
Which takes me back to my moment of doubt, when I wondered if Jesse "The Body" Ventura is more of a surfer than I am. My first reaction to the clip was that Ventura's very public touting of surfing is just another indication that surfing is over. Not because surfing is mainstream - but because surfing has become just what Ventura accused organized religion of being - another "sham" or "crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers."
Surfing is now what a baby-boomer like Ventura, who has traced a Forrest Gump-esque path through history, does when they need to find meaning in their twilight days. Surfing allows you to feel at one with nature, it allows you to grasp in an instant a sense of belonging, in a universe that makes no sense. When a convert like Ventura first discovers surfing, they are saved - suddenly they belong to a tribe of like-minded followers, they have an identity, they're aligned with a "cool" trend, they're grasping at youth and hedonism while tapping into a quasi-spiritualism at the same time.
It fucking disgusts me. It makes me want to quit surfing for good and try to find something in life that ACTUALLY fucking means something, instead of watching 20 more years slip away as I bicker with wetsuited walruses in two-foot slop.
That was my first reaction to Ventura's proclamation.
My second reaction was this: Ventura is more of a surfer than I am, because he's still in love with surfing. He's caught in the frantic heart of those passionate first few years, when every session holds the promise of granting you the best wave of your life. Each new day a revelation.
Jesse "The Body" Ventura can look towards the horizon and dream of all the things that surfing and life have in store for him - his first barrel, his first trip to Indo, his first session at some lauded break like Teahupoo or Mavericks... for me, it's all but over. I've had those experiences, and I can't go back and do them again with unjaded eyes.
Home will never be as good again as it was when I was a kid. Even if the waves get all-time, the crowds and bitterness and decay will ruin it for me. My skills will most likely wane from here on out. To get the best wave of my life, I'm counting on a lottery-ticket of variables to coalesce at some unnamed reef-pass 24 hours of travel, 3 diseases, and one perfect swell west of here. Who knows if that will ever happen.
Meanwhile, somewhere in Mexico, Jesse "The Body" Ventura just scored the wave of his life.