Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Choice, by Len Barrow

The ocean has been my greatest teacher.  It nurtures me when I am sad, gives me the gift of elation when I am happy and punishes me when I am arrogant.  I almost drowned a few days ago and it brought a few things to the fore. 

Sometimes,  I get a bit arrogant.  My buddy and I decided to paddle out on a large day in the area of Mokuleia .  Many people were standing on the beach just looking.  We paddled out like we were brave warriors unafraid of the elements.  We even caught a few 15’ (face height).  I remember my friend and I were relishing in our narcissistic bravery and chastising the folks standing on the beach for their supposed cowardice.  We were stupidly challenging nature.  As we were chatting away the unspeakable happened.   A freak wave as high as a telephone pole (25 feet+) appeared out of nowhere.  Now we realized why people were standing on the beach.  They were being rational and paying attention to the actual conditions.  

I managed to scratch over the first set.  At the crest of the monster, I looked down under my arm and it was if I were staring down a huge cliff. As I turned my head forward the next wave was upon me, I was in the impact zone of one of largest waves I have had to face in my life.  I bailed my board and  jumped underwater.

As I was basically drowning I had a little revelation.  You can think fast when you believe that  you are going to die!  The following are some ideas that flashed through my head while I was cart-wheeling underwater.

The Ocean holds you accountable for how you behave.  There is no ambulance to drive out into the sea to get you.  In the ocean, you either die or are punished severely when you make an error.  You are isolated.   There is no room for error.  Just as surfers are isolated in the ocean on a big day so are we isolated on the earth.  We are stuck here (do you have a starship by any chance?).

While I was spinning around underwater contemplating life with no oxygen,  a  few thoughts went through my head.  I started viewing  the world as a giant 20’ surf break.  Maybe I was hallucinating due to the lack of oxygen but I had the following view:    We are all water-people or metaphorical surfers going through life.  We have to survive by using our abilities of paying attention to the environment around us.  If we don’t pay attention, like me, we either are severely incapacitated or made to be “extinct”.  When we neglect to pay attention we all will get cleaned out by a monster 20’ wave and there will be no ambulance to get us.  This metaphorical or symbolic  20’ footer  that will destroy our species is caused by our abuse of the environment and the resultant warming of the earth.   

This may sound like a hallucinating tree hugger babbling on but if you have been paying attention,  alot of things are mind boggling indicators that a 20 foot close-out is about to drop on our heads and it will be no fun, especially for those who have children who will grow up in the environment that we are creating today.

 Here are a few terrifying facts that should catch our attention.   Last year was the hottest year in recorded history.   Hurricane Katrina was so powerful that the National Weather Service had no category for it.  The recession of the Greenland Ice sheets during the summer has reached record levels.  There is now a North –West Passage (hint: Captain Cook was looking for it in 1775.  There was no Northwest passage as  It was not there because it was frozen over!!!!!!!!!).  Etc,Etc,Etc.  Here comes the twenty foot closeout.  What’s worse is we know that its coming yet we are choosing not to see it.

There is a solution!  We can paddle for the channel and avoid getting pounded by the closeout.  How do we do this?  The Sun is an amazing source of energy and using this renewable source will help neutralize global warming.  As I write we have a 35 mph Gail blowing here in Hawaii.  The Wind Power we are wasting!  Hawaii also has a lot of waves.  All you have to do is put a pole on the bottom with a sliding buoy.  As the buoy  goes up and down it drives a generator.  Bingo! Electricity.  The military is already using this technology in Hawaii.  We are sitting on a molten core which is waiting to be fully utilized in the form of geo-thermal energy.  The list goes on and on.  Let’s sprint for the channel!  We can do it!

As I popped out of the water half drowned, I thought to myself : “that was a great hallucination….I must write it down”.  I then paddled to the channel, sat it out, and went in. 

In the end we can chose to avoid the 20 foot closeout which we SEE coming or we can choose to sit in the impact zone.  Which one will it be?  I chose the former………that’s why I wrote this article.  You the reader can do something also!

Will we choose to fail or succeed?

Mahalo Len Barrow

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