You're 40 years old and your whole life has revolved around surfing and the beach. You've traveled to more countries than you can count on your hands and feet. You lived your dream. The arc of your life has always had a natural flow to itself. It all made perfect sense.
Until one day life catches up to you.
You look around and everything looks the same but much has changed. You have the same routine, but those who were closest to you have all moved on. Many moved on because they couldn't afford it. Some were lucky enough to find true love. Others have died. Some have gone to prison.
You begin the summer by spreading the ashes of one of your best friends at the very beach that you grew up on together. He was one of the last of a big group of friends who have all moved on.
Two months later, it still hurts to go to that beach. You look around and don't recognize anyone anymore. You're happy when you see your brother walking down. Sadly the topic of conversation turns to another tragic death: an old friend who hung himself only days before. It feels like you two are the only ones who have survived the perils of life.
Your own life has been nothing short of a blessing.
Your routine is the same, but nothing about you is. The happiness that came with it that made you feel so invincible has vanished. You try desperately to rediscover it, trying to hold on to the glory days, only to find that the only thing you have now are great memories. You can't help but grow more and more reflective with each passing day.
Until that moment hits you like a 30-foot wave, and you ask yourself: What's next?
You have no idea. Honestly, you feel like the only thing you do know is that you never know.
One thing is certain: It's time for some new challenges in life outside of your old routine. You have come to the realization that a new journey is just beginning and it gives you hope. Great hope.
With that hope comes sadness as you realize that this will be the last Surfing Soapbox column you will write. You have decided to write a new column for Coast magazine because it is a new challenge and a break from the routine. Suddenly your eyes get teary because saying goodbye to your column is like saying goodbye to an old friend.
It was a great run, and I will always leave the door open for my return because there is no greater honor than writing for your hometown. It's now time to turn that chapter and begin a new one. I'll be seeing you around.
JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha SchoolofSurfing.com.