Surf Survival, A Life Lesson

by Landon Hartstein


The thrill of catching a wave and rippin’ along down the line is addictive. Sometimes my addiction makes me do stupid things and risk more than I should.

I was living in New Zealand, on a 200 acre farm two kilometres down the Whanakai walkway from Sandy Bay--a beautiful, horseshoe shaped, sandy bay with an estuary leading to the sea. When the swell and winds aligned, the shifty sand bank produced an incredible wave.  

It had been storming for a few days and the surf was definitely “up”. Even though it was raining, it didn’t calm the winds. The water was choppy and the waves could easily be considered “over-head”. I paddled out alongside the protection of the cliff, using the rocks as a rip.

Once I was outside, I knew I was in trouble. A huge wave rose up right in front of me and I realized I didn’t get far enough out of the danger zone. I ducked my board under the wave. As I pushed through, I could feel the power of the wave pull me backwards and got a deeper sense of just how dangerous my situation was. 

Humbled, I decided I shouldn’t mess around out there and would try to get back to shore immediately but I was already outside and I’d have to attempt at least one wave to get back in. Well, that’s what I came out for, I thought. One wave. 

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How I Left My Sensible Life

by Maureen Elizabeth Magee


“No, Dad. I won’t do anything foolish.  Yes, I will be sensible.”

My last conversation before leaving Canada.

I sank into the airplane seat with relief. The decision had been made, fears conquered, and all the loose ends of planning a solo traipse around the world were tied up. I was a sensible woman; middle-aged, newly divorced and quite practical.  Although some argued that quitting a management job to travel for a year was not practical.  And others added that selling my home in order to finance the trip did not fall into the category of judicious. And many, many people pointed out that attempting to give up my five-star princess habits to travel on a shoestring was just asking for trouble.

I buckled my seat belt. None of them could find me now. No more concerned pleas or pointed observations about my lack of travel experience. It was just me and this Air New Zealand jet - a magic carpet – about to rescue me. Rescue me from  . . . from what? Just what did I need rescuing from?  A normal life? A practical life?  A sensible life. A ‘follow-the-rules’ life that had recently let me down.

A low rumble of power hummed through the plane and the flight attendant began to make her announcement, pulling me away from the past. The past didn’t matter anymore. The reasons for my break-away trip didn’t matter.  Only the accelerating whine of the engines mattered. It was all out of my control right now. I was tethered to nothing and that was a surprisingly comforting thought.

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