Waking up everyday just a little bit changed
While it breaks over us like waves
Long live beauty; short live pain
Lust for wonder and hunger pangs
Face your fear, but do not shame:
It doesn’t end; it just wears away
But leave the lights on
Cause it might be nighttime when I get there
But I’m on my way home

X

John and I went for a paddle on Sunday. Despite the fact that we work together and talk multiple times every day about a website about paddleboarding we rarely get to paddle together, which is a shame, because, in addition to co-workers, we are good friends.

Our favorite thing to do is to have a gif-off via text. Here are some brill ones I haven’t sent you yet, John:

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(My favorite one is still the cat knocking a bunch of stuff off the dresser but I can’t really put that online. LANGUAGE!)

Bark Prone board and Bark Excursion

When I showed up at Wynn Plaza John was hopped back on his Bark Excursion SUP turning in circles between the docks. I had my prone board.

That becomes important to this story later.

We set off for a little paddle around Harbor Island.

Paddling around Harbor Island in Wrightsville Beach is like taking a walk around the neighborhood–20 years ago when everyone knew each other. We saw Sweaty. We saw Eric. We waved at the Coast Guard and shouted relief that there was no race that day and we could just paddle. We paddled under the drawbridge and past fisherman catching the red drum running through Banks Channel.

John talked with me about the currents and eddies and I felt the water moving under my belly, pushing me this way and that. Because John can’t paddle with me without teaching me something. He always teaches me something. Every time we interact I learn something about myself, about creativity, about working with someone who is the same as me and vastly different at the same time.

On the water we had time to talk about things besides our advertising strategy or who was putting up what content or any sort of industry intel that we heard that seemed particularly odd last week.

We talked about bucket list races. What board John might like to paddle next. How I love to prone more than I thought and I know that now that I’m physically able to stand up.

10604436_791713060896503_662082381546628153_oWe talked about Larry Cleveland, Terri, and Sandy pulling an oyster boat back to shore when the engine died.

And how when I got that text from Larry I thought it was awesome that they helped and awesome that the verbiage with the picture was “Mullets rock.” That he identified himself as a Mullet.

That becomes important to the story later.

*******

So today is Veterans Day. Armistice Day. Remembrance Day. Originally commemorating the cease fire on the Western Front during World War I. Commemorated by two minutes of silence at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month. The first minute for those lost in the war. The second for the families left behind to pick up the pieces.

In the United States, today, it is to celebrate all veterans.

My brother in law and sister in law and her brother and my friend’s brother and several of my friends are veterans. Several of them are actively serving.

I can’t pretend to know anything at all about what it’s like to serve your country. To be part of the Army, Navy, Airforce, or Marines. To be deployed and come back or have a loved one be deployed and come back or not come back and there being traumatic things to deal with regardless of the outcome.

When I see active service members in the airport I try to say thank you, but I don’t know if that is a good thing to do or not? I don’t really know how to act or what to say. If you are a veteran or actively serving, please shed some light in the comments. Please. And thank you for your service.

*******

Unless you live under a rock you can’t help but take some time today to think about what the sacrifices of our veterans and their families mean to you. Hopefully you do it more than one day a year.

There are so many things about life, generally, that are just overwhelming a lot of the time. I really can’t process most of it but I try and my system goes into overload. Usually I sit down to write during those times. I think a lot. About rubbish, mostly. I try to stay open and feel it all, even when I get slapped or yelled at or “talked to.”

My M.O. in life is to foster an environment where people can safely and happily be themselves. Almost anything I do relates back to that because I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to be be born with an extra chromosome or be hungry because there’s not enough food on the table or to be discriminated against because of the color of my skin or my sexual orientation, I know what it’s like to be found at fault for being me.

I think of this on Veterans Day, in part, because wars are mostly conflicts in ideals about what is right and just and fair and a lot of blood has been shed over the years uphold or shut down said ideals. It continues everywhere. Wars with people spilling blood. Wars with friends shedding tears. Wars over money and religious ideals and ways of life.

And I can live in relative peace because so many people have made so many sacrifices.

*******

So back to our different boards and Larry’s text. A few weeks back we posted something here about a circular saw advert cutting apart a paddleboard and paddle. With the headline “Tools for surfers.” Fighting words. I rarely go read SUP stories on surf blogs because my blood will boil at the comments.

When we realized we had two different watercraft on Sunday, our response was “Ok, let’s go paddle.”

I got in the water and said something like: F%&* it’s cold! And that was that.

No prone vs. sup vs. surf vs. unlimited vs. o.c. vs. rec boards vs. race boards vs. this brand vs. that brand.

john and katie from distressed mulletRight around Seapath after we saw a bunch of our friends we turned to each other and said, more or less at the same time, over each other, that the reason we liked paddling is that even though our paddle friends are all so different off the water, when we get on the water we are one thing: paddlers.

Whether he is gay and she is straight and she is black and he is white and he’s Jewish and she’s Christian and he worships the spaghetti monster, once we’re on the water we can all, in John’s words, “Talk for three hours about a forty five minute paddle.” On the water John and I and all of you are Mullets. Despite our differences, in this way we are the same.

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that on the water, I feel peace.

*******

So what can I do to be of service, to honor the commitment and the sacrifices of our veterans because I’m not planning to enlist? Doesn’t mean I can’t help people who fighting other battles at home.

I don’t have a sword. I have a pen. And I’ll use it to make the water a safe place for everyone who wants to congregate there.

Among other things.

 

I’ve been clawing away at what’s underneath:
Closer than solid ground beneath your feet
Closer, even now, than lips and teeth
Closer now, then out of reach
And the body remembers what the mind forgets:
Archives every heartbreak, every cigarette
These reset bones? They might not hold,
But they might yet
Leave the lights on
Cause it might be nighttime when I get there
But I’m on my way home

X Lyrics from “Home” by Field Report

Lend a hand:

http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org

More organizations

If you run a paddle or surf related charity or organization that works with veterans please post a link in the comments.