Kona Blood

There Goes My Hero (Shane Dorian)

Photo: Epes Sargent/ A Frame

We live in a strange American epoch. Its main trait, so it seems, is a fascination with being childlike. Our hipsters ride bicycles, like children, and ironically collect lunch pails and wear footy pajamas and watch cartoons on Saturday mornings and buy ice cream from ironically painted ice cream trucks. More and more 20-somethings live at home, with their parents, and also more and more 30-somethings. This sort of devolved, perpetual childhood should be stress-free but our hipsters, our 20-somethings, our 30-somethings, are getting nervous in record numbers. They all suffer from "anxiety." Everyone has "anxiety." Everyone except Shane Dorian.

Shane Dorian does not live at home with his parents. He lives with his wife in the town of Kona on the Big Island. He does not ride a bike; he drives a pickup truck. He does not wear footy pajamas; he sleeps totally naked. He does not eat ice cream; he hunts pig and eats pig. Shane Dorian is the antithesis to our strange American epoch. He is not simply a throwback to a manlier time, because I don't know that anyone was ever as manly as Shane Dorian. I mean, have you seen the waves he's surfed in the past few years? Did you see the barrels he snagged at Jaws? Did you see him almost drown at Maverick's and then return and pull in to the main peak? Have you seen him paddle Cortes? Shane Dorian should have "anxiety." After his wild feats of oceanic strength he should end each day sobbing on a therapist's couch. But he does not. He goes to his Big Island and hunts pig. With a bow.
Shane Dorian is not a one-trick, big-wave-danger, pig-hunting pony, either. He is versatile like the Renaissance men of old. He is a movie star (starring in the movie In God's Hands). He dresses well (his wardrobe knows no irony). He is the best surf event commentator around (he slays the booth with his knowledge and willingness to call bullshit when he sees bullshit). He is well groomed (shaving his head and using Vertra on his fair skin). He is safe (inventing a flotation device wetsuit, the V1, that has saved him and others from drowning). And at the end of it all he rides big waves and he hunts pig. And eats pig.

Shane Dorian is a man, not a child, and he is an inspiration. He does not seek praise for his life, nor does he seek recognition, but we should all praise and recognize and seek to be a little bit more like him. This does not necessarily mean we should all paddle Jaws but it does mean we should stop with this anxiety business and really take life by the horns, or pig tusks, as it were. We should toughen up. Like, a lot up. And we should usher in the next American epoch. I'd just as soon call it The Shane Dorian Era but I don't think he would like that so, for now, let us just say we all need some more Kona Blood. --Chas Smith