The human ability to explore the world, educate one's self, stretch one's perception and boundaries of security and comfort should be embraced as well as the emerging visceral feelings and emotions stemming from such experiences.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

RIP: Dave Martin

Let me first start off by saying that my thought and prayers go out to the Martins and their friends.
San Diego experienced a shark attack this past weekend. Dave Martin was out doing what he did every Friday morning. He met up with the tri-club for an early morning ocean swim as part of their combined efforts in training for various triathlons. I won't go into the gruesome details of what happened next, but I will say it was an unfortunate turn of events involving a 17 foot great white.

I don't know where exactly to start with this story. The news stations and Internet sources have been saturated with images of sharks, surfers, swimmers, and grievers. It was tragic turn of events last Friday, but it has also drummed up a significant amount of debate. This is where I will chime in.

Dave Martin was a man who daily pursued the loves of his life. It seems that, like most of us, his friends an family took priority in his life. After that he was an avid athlete, a fellow waterman, and a retired animal doc. I'm not going to speculate as to his motivation for training for triathlons, but I know that there needs to be some sort of ardor driving your training in order to constantly submit your body to the pain and intensity involved in such a pastime. Therefor I can confidently infer that Mr. Martin passed doing something he truly loved in a place he loved.

We all are going to have to face that day eventually. Many of us would like to prolong our stay on Earth by any reasonable means, but the truth is none of us will physically remain in permanence. I don't want to die today or tomorrow, but I want to think that if my time is up here I can be at peace with moving on. I can't think of many more frightening things than a shark attack, but I can think of a multitude of places and ways to die that are less appealing than going by way of pursuing something you love. If I was a friend or family member of Martin's, I would try to take solace in the fact that he was where he wanted to be last Friday morning. I know it may only give them a temporary reprieve from the sadness that seems to be all but entirely consuming at this point, but one day I hope they embrace what he was doing when he died as the focal point rather than how he died or even that he died.

Shark attacks, like previously alluded to, scare the crap out of me. Not the attacks in general, but just knowing that it is a possibility when you paddle out. But that's just it, it's a possibility. It's also a possibility that you could die from lightning strikes, or being mugged, or gas leaking in your house, or any number of things you may not have ever known anyone to be afflicted by. I know this though; it is much more dangerous to drive your car down the street than to paddle your board out into the surf (or swim as the case may be). With all the people who enjoy the beaches and ocean in this area each year, there are a limited number of attacks and even fewer deaths reported.

The other point is that sharks are predators. They live in our oceans. Once you swim out, you are no longer at the top of the food chain. It's natural for a shark to behave in such a way. It is a risk some are willing to take in order to pursue their love. We have to be careful of demonizing sharks. They can be dangerous creatures, but they have as much right to be in water as we do... maybe even more so. It may be easy to harbor anger towards these animals that can only be fueled by the presence of gripping fear. It follows the pattern that the "right" thing to do is usually the hardest thing to do. I feel we owe it to Martin to get back out there, not to be reckless, but just to do the exact same thing he was doing before his death... enjoying the simple wonders of this planet.

When the news broke of this attack, I wondered how my family might react knowing how much time I spend in the water in SoCal. I only got one message. It was from my mom. It was an email that simply read:

"'Everything is dangerous, my dear fellow. If it wasn't so, life wouldn't be worth living."
OSCAR WILDE, The importance of Being Earnest
'Here’s to living a life fully experienced!!'
MCMOM, The importance of Being Unimportant"

Awesome email. I'm surprised/impressed that I haven't heard from anyone telling me to stay out of the water, or to be careful, or something along those lines. I haven't talked to my dad yet though... I love being in the water. It is my release, my therapy. As dangerous as it may be perceived by others, I will continue to surf so I might live a life worth living. Just know that if I was to die doing something I love, I would hope people would focus on what I was doing and imagine my state of being right up until the end.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Andy -

Awesome blog. Thanks for taking the time to post. Anyway, all I can say to you is: "Hang ten, my man"!!