Today, I was wearing my ‘swim to the other shore’ Earthmonk tee shirt and it reminded me of Eddie Aikau. If you’re a surfer, you probably know the name.
Eddie was a legendary Hawaiian lifeguard who saved over 500 people and was one of the first big waver surfers. When he was 31, he volunteered for a 2,500 journey in a traditional vessel between Hawaii and Tahiti but 12 miles out to see, the twin-hull voyaging canoe started taking on water and capsized. Eddie took his surfboard and set off, paddling back to raise the alarm. All the crew were rescued, but Aikau was never seen again. This feat of personal sacrifice on behalf of others lives on in the expression ‘Eddie would go’, the tag line of the annual Eddie Aikau big wave surf competition. He was just that kind of guy.
Eddie had no idea what was in store for him on his journey once he left the relative safety of the canoe. Just like life, the ocean is immense, full of dangers, but in equal parts beautiful and invigorating. You never know what it will throw at you: one day the sea can be calm, exuding a serenity that settles the soul; the next, phenomenally powerful waves toss you around at their will. Even two people’s perspectives can be different: for a surfer, a rough sea is great fun, for a dinghy sailor, it’s a huge challenge.
Every time I wear my tee-shirt, I think about the meaning. I can stay where I am in life in relative safety and without challenging myself, or like Eddie, I can set out into the unknown. I may find the new shore I’m looking for, or end up on an unfamiliar beach. Like Eddie, I may not get the outcome I was looking for, but maybe it’s not the destination that’s important, but the journey itself. By his sacrifice, Aikau has inspired generations to follow his selfless, big-hearted and courageous lead. To me, that’s a real success.
Earthmonk is delighted to welcome onboard our newest ambassador John Mayhead. John is a writer, ex-soldier and dad of five who is a familiar face at Help for Hero’s and is a passionate advocate in raising awareness about military mental health (check out @johnsjourneyofficial on Facebook).
John has just returned from a two week trip to join a section of the 2018 Walk of America (a 14 week walk covering 1,000 miles from the west to the east coast of America launched by Prince Harry in July to raise funds and promote mental health awareness for veterans). It was during this extraordinary and exhausting journey that John spared some time to reflect on the meaning of his new T-shirt and the slogan, ‘swim to the other shore.’ This is his first Earthmonk blog. We can’t wait to read more…
The main feature photo was taken by Tod Glaser. It shows the Hawaiian big wave surfer John Florence in action winning the 2016 Eddie Aikau title for the ninth time in three decades.
Swim to the other shore is inspired by the Dhammapada. It’s available in fossil grey, navy and ultramarine.