Tuesday night I sat beneath the Californian skies watching an outdoor screening of a documentary made by local surfers called Positive Vibrations. I looked upward and counted my lucky stars. There were several shining red, white and blue. They twinkled more with tears welling in my eyes.
I took a deep breath and held it with lips closed tight, as if that might somehow freeze the moment in time. After a few seconds life interrupted and forced me to exhale, and inhale once again.
The occasion of my being there, on a balmy evening in the San Clemente surfing community, happened by chance. It was like most other strange melancholies and coincidences during this holiday.
Since departing Adelaide on 26 August 2016 there have been mistakes, poor calls of judgment, and several wrong turns taken on my part. The miles I’ve walked while lost have turned my blisters to calluses. Heart-stopping road trips driven and navigated on the ‘other’ side of the freeway (in a left-hand drive vehicle on the right-hand side of the road) shattered my already-shot nerves to smithereens.
Grateful, nevertheless, I am; for the silly errors that led to fortunate discoveries being made by accident. None more-so than this one big serendipity.
It was my third day photographing Lower Trestles Beach for the Men’s Hurley Pro and the Women’s Swatch Pro. I should have had the freeway route from my apartment to exit 72 for Cristianitos Road engraved in my mind after having been escorted there on days one and two; but it wasn’t.
Come day three, I took a wrong turn and my husband Dave and I parked a long, long way away. We began our 45 minute trek to the beach. There was a Rip Curl store along the way. We stopped in to take a look.
“Team signing tomorrow, 1-3pm”, was advertised on an A-frame just inside the entrance. “Mick Fanning, Tyler Wright, Nikki van Dijk”. Dave and I couldn’t believe our luck and we returned the next day, armed with memorabilia for autographing.
Mick Fanning has long been Dave’s idol. The admiration began prior to Dave having seen Mick surf in person, before Mick held world titles, and most certainly pre his infamous 2015 shark attack.
“Hi Mick, I’m Dave McKay, from Australia.”
They shook hands.
“Pleased to meet you”, continued Dave. “Can I get a photo?”
“Sure”, Mick replied.
I lifted my camera with hands slightly shaking, because truly, I was nervous. I upped the shutter speed to compensate for my jittery fingers, and I photographed Dave with his idol, Mick Fanning.
And just like that, the moment that came to be because of a wrong turn at the freeway, was recorded in time.
There was general chit-chat about the t-shirts we presented to Mick for signing. They had Mick’s face on the front and mine had the Kick It To Me logo on the back. Mick personalised each with a comment and his autograph. There was a chuckle here and there. It may have been insignificant to some, but it was a crazy, did-this-actually-happen moment to Dave, and to me.
I have come to appreciate errors in judgment, most especially when they lead to makingliding-door-moments when we consciously or unconsciously take one path instead of another happen each day to all of us. If there was a hero waiting at every wrong turn these moments would stand out and command our attention. But that’s not normal. Meeting Mick Fanning or [insert your idol’s name here] is not allocated in your average day’s calendar, sitting alongside your 10:30am coffee reminder.
It’s up to us to open our eyes and appreciate the good that even wrong turns bring.