What constitutes perfection in the way a person leads a life? I mean, from the pespective of terminus, would you view your time on earth as being well spent, let alone perfect? Say if you had a chance to look down on the entire timeframe of am existence? Regrets if they are there, would likely arise from not pursuing your given opportunities to live a life that fulfilled your heart’s desires. Of course, both opportunities and wishes vary from person to person, and culture to culture. But for a seven year old Hawaiian child at the threshold of his life, standing at the edge of the sand in Waikiki in 1959, the wishes would appear decidedly few and very clear.
Dino, as he eventually came to be known, the kid with an English first name, a Hawaiian middle name, and a Chinese last name, grew up under the guidance and supervision of a tight knit group of watermen who tourists know as beach boys. His tenure began that day in the end of the decade, and his interests, as a Hawaiian, proved to be anything relating to water. His middle name, Lanakila roughly translates as “champion” or “victorious one” That day, the young boy was tossed into what would become his life’s avocation, that of a waterman.
The term beach boy is actually a job title. The job consists of providing beach services and equipment rentals and representing Hawaii to the vast number of people who fly into Honolulu each year in search of their own version of tropical paradise. To the bulk of those people, that dream includes the chance to surf, sail, canoe, swim and/ or, do whatever one fantasizes about from the aquatically barren existence of the average human being. So the beach boys are watermen. A waterman is someone who is completely at home and knowledgeable about anything that goes on in the water. Typically they are very adept athletically. A waterman is as at home out in the middle of the sea on a dark night, as an uninitiated person is at home in front of the television on a relaxing evening in.
“We have to hurry”, a fast moving Bobby Friedman barked at me. The paddle out is about to happen. In the hubbub of Honolulu airport, we threw my gear into the back of the tandem surfer’s truck and blasted through clouds of exhaust spewing, tourism buses towards Waikiki. “Oh, good to see you” Bobby smiled. He is an interesting character, having moved to Hawaii to be more of a part of what spawned his life’s pursuit of tandem surfing, the culture of the beach boy. “We have about 45 minutes before the paddle out for Dino’s brother Bon. I am diving a rock from the family emu pit down and placing it in the reef where the two of them grew up swimming and surfing at Queen’s”. We were going to a funeral it appeared. “Do you want to shoot it?” I was aghast at the question as I consider people’s privacy a sacred thing. “Do you think I should?” was about all I could muster early that hot, Hawaiian morning, fresh off the jet with all the other visitors that day. “Hmmm, I will introduce you to Dino. Maybe ask him if it is okay?” I was not a fan of the thought.
We dropped the car off at the elegant lobby of the Hilton with some friends of ours. I grabbed a housing and pulled on some board shorts and we jogged across busy Kalakaua boulevard, sweating and a bit harried. On the sand, behind the big statue of Duke Kahanamoku, stood an umbrella and a calm, apparently pensive group of people in the middle of which was a man who Bobby introduced me to. Dino Chin would paddle his outrigger out to the reef that day with the lava rock, leis, and a small group of friends. He greeted me pleasantly enough and I asked. “Dino, would it be okay if I came along and took a few photos?” He smiled softly and quietly said, “yes sure, that would be okay”.
Minutes later two canoes were slipped into the water and we glided through a placid, azure sea out past the two footers a large group of surfers and tourists glided shoreward upon. The sweet coconut smell of sunscreen hung in the still air. A perfect day. Outside past the break we stopped, and I slipped off ama side into warm, blue, velvety feeling water. I shot a few photos quickly and unobtrusively.
After a brief word to Bobby, asking for him to give me give me a few seconds, I swam down towards the reef and after 20 feet or so had passed, turned and looked up to see him rocketing down towards me, lei wrapped rock gripped in big strong hands, looking all the world like a human missile headed straight to the bottom. I shot a few frames as he rocketed by, then followed him down as he found a good place, and wedged the rock into the reef. Bobby does stone work in Hawaii. The big guy was a perfect choice for this task apparently. He pushed up off the bottom and as he rose I shot a few more frames. Near the surface I stopped and realized one of the leis had come off the rock. I shot a few frames up through its leafy spirals at the canoe Dino slowly paddled. The emotion, one of peacefulness and synchronicity, was tangible as I began my slow final glide to the surface. I swam back to shore trailing the canoes as people played at Queens.