Hi Joseph, whereabouts are you at the moment and how has your day been?
I currently live in Charleston, SC and today is like most of my days, pretty damn good. I live near the beach and I actually get to paddle out on a regular basis. I have a great family and some cherished friends. I want for little and actually need even less so all-in-all, I am usually in a pretty good mood. There are a ton of things I have to be grateful for and I have lived long enough to know that there is no greater trait to have than gratitude. I have today, I am grateful for that. On top of that, I get to tell you about my newest book and talk about surfing… How could I not be in a great mood?
Had any good waves lately?
3 days ago I paddled out with my best friend and his girlfriend. We had a beautiful morning riding glassy, waist-high surf on some hybrids and a longboard. So in the end, I have to admit that I am as fortunate in friends as I am in waves.
Tell us about your new book Legacy of Stoke… from the moment we saw the cover you had us hooked!
The cover design is from my friend Shane Lasby, he always blows me away with his designs. You should see the other 7 ideas that he sent me for Volume 1. His work is so beautiful that it was hard to narrow it down to one design. The book itself is a collection of stories from surfers from around the world describing how they were introduced to surfing, what hooked them and how it has changed their lives. No brands, no sponsors, no fluff… Just real surfers telling their stories in their own words describing this passion that we all share so deeply.
Can you tell us about some of the insights and experiences readers might find within the pages?
I can try but, I believe that Peter Heller can describe it better… In his book, Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave, Peter writes ‘Surfing is one of the only pursuits on earth that can drub you into numb exhaustion and blunt trauma time and time again and give you nothing in return; nothing but sand in your crotch, salt-stung eyes, banged temple, chipped tooth, screaming back, and sunburned ears—gives you all of this and not a single stand-up ride. Time and again. Day after day. Gives you nothing back but tumbles, wipeouts, thumpings, scares. And you return. You are glad to do it. In fact, you can think of nothing you’d rather do.’
To me this excerpt is a perfect description of what our readers will find in Volume 1 of Legacy of Stoke; it is the tales of what drives everyday people back into the water time after time with so much enthusiasm and yearning and gratitude. Surfing is a shared experience and an understanding of something that so few people in the world can even comprehend… In the bigger scope of life, surfers are rare.
How surfing has shaped your life and lifestyle?
I started surfing when I was eleven. I’d wake up before dawn and take 3 buses down to the beach by myself just to surf. I was introverted and spent too much time in my own head. Surfing shaped everything. My hope for waves taught me to have hope for every day the sun came up. Paddling through the fear on big waves taught me to be focused, be in tune with my surroundings at this moment but, to still go for it. Take the drop… See what happens and be grateful for however it turned out. The changing tides, calm days and storm surf taught me that life is just that, always changing. It’s not personal. Life has no vendetta against me. It’s just going to rain sometimes and sometimes the sun comes out. I take what comes along now. I accept it, I am grateful.
It has brought friends and adventures and lessons and memories. Just like a fruitful tide that turns and picks the waves up it is always there to keep me centered on what’s here now and what could be the next wave in the set.
Where’s your dream surf session and who is there (can be anyone living or not)?
I always dream about surfing Trestles at dawn patrol again. I attended college in California and always loved paddling out to trestles on uncrowded days. It wouldn’t need to be big or epic, just classic 6 – 8 foot trestles with its perfect shape forming up wave after wave. In the water would be my closest friends, my son and Greg Noll, Nat Young, Mark Occhilupo, Gary Green, Rob Machado, Mickey Muñoz, Rell Sunn, Trevor Hall, Peter Townend, Joel Tudor, Jack London, Eddie Vedder, Jack Johnson, Sean Penn and Kelly Slater. 3 or 4 hours in the water together and an epic late breakfast feast with everyone there. It might get a bit crowded with all of these people in the water but the stories told in-between sets would be unreal.
If it’s a dream session though, I would have to extend it to a month long boat trip in the Mentawais with the entire crew (after we ate breakfast).
What are your favorite books and who inspires you?
My favorite books (in no particular order) would be On the Road, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Once and Future King, The Old Man and the Sea, The Metamorphosis, Silas Marner, Siddhartha, The Sea Wolf and The Prophet. I am currently listening to an audio version Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper with my son. It’s the story of a young girl who cannot speak or write or move but, the book is narrated by her and speaks volumes about how we choose to look at our own life. We aren’t half-way finished with it yet and it will probably be added to my favorites list next.
As far as who inspires me, it is and has always been people who are grateful. I believe that too many people find real problems in minor inconveniences and it has never resonated with me… I woke up today, I have a home, I have a family, I have friends, and I get to surf… The people that wake up every day and look around and see how much they truly have and are grateful for it, these are the people that inspire me.The other people that are inspire me are people who are willing to try. Thomas Edison is credited with saying ‘I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work’. To me, that is awesome. I don’t understand the stigma with not succeeding at everything… Think about it; every aerial you didn’t make, every barrel that closed out too soon, everything you tried 10,000 times and failed and loved it.
The surfers who contributed to the book took the drop. No fear, no regrets… I am inspired by them. Thanks for inspiring me Carrll Robilotta, Vail Duggan, Karen Shatafian, Charlie Paradise, Steven Zima, Austin Ware, Richard Prause, Rebecca Heller, Kim Byrne, Katherine Hall, Klaude Kimura and Shane Lasby.
How can people connect with you and discover Legacy of Stoke for themselves?