FIRST PERSON: Kevin Naughton Surf Traveler; Irishman; Lover of Plants

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If at his/her birth you could select what profession your child would
pursue, would you do so?

Kevin: People determined to decide for their children what they will become, be it pro surfers, pro athletes or professional whatevers, are projecting their own unfulfilled desires or fantasies onto their unwitting offspring. I see it all the time. It’s not a pretty picture. Everyone is born with their natures. On rare occasions some find their calling right out of the gate (these are usually the Einsteins and Beethovens of the world). For the rest of us, it’s one big learning curve trying to figure out what on
earth we’re here for. You eventually realize that what matters is not how you start in life, but how you finish.
It’s a funny world. The best laid plans can fall by the wayside on apparent whims of fate. That’s not to say there are no hard and fast rules to the game. There are. But I’m not here to preach, and besides, everyone must learn the rules on their own terms. To all those parents trying to force their children into godknowswhat careers, consider this:
You can take your kids to the beach and introduce them to the ocean. You can point out where the waves are best and where the channel is to paddle out. You can steer them clear of some rips and show them the best take-off spots. You can do all this and more, even to the point of pushing them into that one long wave called life. But after that it’s their ride and their ride alone. You can’t ride it for them. All you can do is stand back and watch how they ride that wave and hope that you taught them well.

Is traveling completely alone overrated or underrated?

Kevin: The idea of a lone traveler–the rugged individualist–facing the world is a romantic
dream and these dreams die hard. Everyone who travels should do at least one trip on their own. If nothing else, you soon find out if you can stand your own company. Don’t worry, most people can’t. Some lessons in life you have to learn on your own and solo travel tends to accelerate the process, often painfully but sometimes with unexpected joy and revelation.
Having said that, too much going it alone tends to brand you as a social misfit, and that can have its drawbacks. Humans are social creatures. We like to share in the moment, especially when those moments are good. Shared experiences are the things that bond us and one of the greatest shared experiences is the simple act of travel.

If Jesus Christ was a surf explorer, would he tell others about his
surf discoveries, or keep them a secret?

Kevin: Since Jesus Christ was undoubtedly the coolest person who ever lived, and surfers pride themselves on their cool quotient, it follows to reason that if Christ was around today he would be a surfer. Surfers can relate to his water of life message plus his background credentials were impeccable (Son of God) and if he liked to show his stuff once in a while by walking on water, well, surfers can relate to this also. From the bits we know of him, Christ was not one to keep secrets. He basically told it like it was. However, he had a fondness for getting the word out in parables and other cryptic sayings that few at the time could figure out. That’s how I see him describing his surf discoveries. He would allude to a heavenly spot only he knows of, but in such a way as to ensure that we used our imaginations and made some effort to find it. Again, the cool factor comes into play.
Having said all this, it’s unlikely that Christ would get the opportunity to tell us about all those divine spots, because he also had a propensity for rubbing the establishment wrong. And before he got too far he would once again find himself being sacrificed on the altar of the world’s ambitions.

Would you skip the funeral of a dear friend or relative if you knew
you would be scoring perfect uncrowded waves all day long?

Kevin: (Note to editor: What deranged mind comes up with these questions?). In this day and age scoring perfect uncrowded waves all day long in southern California is more rare than, well, a dear friend dying. But death is not a topic I think much about. Granted, there are times when I’m out at Trestles trying to snag a few waves and some wanker will cut me off which
immediately makes me consider the benefits of the death penalty when judiciously applied to wankers in the water. Mind you, I’m usually opposed to the death penalty except in cases of extreme hopping. When this happens–and it happens quite a bit at Trestles–I try and shrug it off, because that wave is already gone. Instead, I look around at the open ocean, at the light the way it plays off the waves, at the texture of the water, and I wait for another wave to appear from the infinite horizon. I remind myself that being out in the water and riding waves is a celebration of life and something I intend to do for life. So to answer your question I pass on the waves and go to the funeral to face what it means to die. Because there will always be another day and another wave, but there is only one death and that’s something you can avoid all you want until it faces you.

What do you think of the Surfrider Foundation?

Kevin: Can surfers really afford NOT to have a Surfrider Foundation? Let’s face it: If space invaders were taking over the planet and surfers were in the unlikely position of negotiating a treaty, everything on the inland side of the coast highway would be relinquished freely. Just give us the beaches. The world could be going to hell in a hand basket and so long
as the waves are good it’s alright. You’d be hard pressed to come across a group more singlemindedly selfish than surfers. Don’t think the rest of the world doesn’t know this and make fun of us at every opportunity.
That’s why the Surfrider Foundation is there. It forces surfers to stand up and be counted and forces the rest of the world to take notice. Surfrider gives voice to the powers that be that surfers have come of age, that we can think beyond our last ride and our next wave. Realistically, I know that most of us can’t, which is all the more reason why the Surfrider
Foundation needs to be there to do the thinking for us.