28 February 2007

Privileged Pilgrimage

Photo taken from the SurfArt website

One of the five pillars of Islam requires that every Muslim, if physically and financially able, make at least one journey to the Holy City Of Mecca to perform the Haj, during their life time. The Haj is the absolute center of the Islamic world and was created to be a unifying focal point for worship.

Hawaii has a similar place in the hearts and minds of surfers. I have even heard people say that every surfer should make an effort, if possible to make at least one pilgrimage to the Hawaiian islands. I for one never thought I would make it anywhere near Hawaii. After all, Wales is a long way from this Mid-Pacific chain of islands.

However, the opportunity recently presented itself and a spontaneous decision was made to go. It was all too easy.

Now, I don't dwell on religious or spiritual matters all that often but I do occasionally dwell on privilege. I've been privileged enough to travel a fair bit further around this combustive planet than many and I used to think I was all the more 'worldly' or 'wise' or 'interesting' because of it and I yearned for more. However, I eventually found some truth in an old Zen adage. I can never remember the precise saying but it posits that one can learn just as much by never leaving their garden as they can from thousands of miles of global travel. I tend to believe this, especially since examining my own past arrogance and after countless disappointing conversations with so-called 'well-travelled' people.

Furthermore, in this day and age of a globalized monoculture, travelling is all too often sadly void of unique regional experiences. You can go almost anywhere in the world and drink same coffee while listening to the same music after shopping at the same department store as you do back home.

Even if you travel with an open mind, many environmentalists now consider air travel to be the single biggest contributor to global warming. Surfers, like most travellers tend to ignore these wider consequences and implications of their travels in the selfish pursuit of perfect surf.

Nevertheless, I'm going to make this pilgrimage as it has been a long three years since I have left this country. The longest I've stayed in one place since I was nine and my arse is getting sore from sitting in my garden. So I've packed:

1) 1 pair shorts
2) 1 Speedo
3) 1 pair of swim fins
4) 1 toothbrush

and I'm ready to roll. Hopefully I wont suck all the stoke out of my travelling companions with the above sentiments.

A hui hou!