Over the last month at my house in Bali, he painted an art show in my living room, which he hung and sold in the nearby Deus Motorcycle café (owned by MIA surf photog Dustin Humphrey). He trained his favorite local driver, Ketut, to film for his upcoming Innersection submission. Now his part is already finished for 2011, a full month in advance. When I got home, he took me out for ribs at my favorite BBQ joint.
"You painted that whole art show in a week?" I asked him.
"Yeah, it was crazy," he says. "I started with some old themes, but then some new stuff just burst outta me. Couple of my best works yet, I think. Some cool Bali themes."
"You sell 'em all?"
"Sold a couple. Enough to pay for the trip, almost."
"Nice work." Mike's managed his surf career like a game of chess, always thinking three moves ahead. "Now what?"
"Off to Japan," he says. "It's supposed to be snowing there. I don't even have a jacket."
We're night sweating over gooey ribs here on the equator and it's hard to even imagine snow in Japanese. "Maybe you could paint a jacket," I say.
Mike doesn't even know how to respond to that. It was a pretty stupid thing to say. I'm sorry I even mention it now.
After an awkward silence, I ask him questions:
"My dad told me when I was young that I could do anything in life as long as I tried my hardest. If I didn't know it, he said, I could just learn it from a book. Books hold a wealth of knowledge and can teach you everything from the smallest to the most complex things in life. Basically, if you want to learn something, just go to the library or ask people questions — educate yourself."
WHAT’S YOUR MOST VALUABLE POSSESSION RIGHT NOW?
"I’d have to say the most important thing in my life is my family. My wife and new puppy are the two things I couldn’t live without. A physical possession would be laptop and hard drive. Both hold a lot of digital photos from my travels, all my music, surfing footage, contacts…tons of things I wouldn’t want to lose."
IF YOU COULD BE REMEMBERED FOR DOING ONE THING IN YOUR LIFE AFTER YOU’RE GONE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
"I just want to be remembered as a good friend and honest person. Hopefully in the future I can do something to improve our oceans and be remembered for making a difference."After dinner we eat ice cream and imagine the snow over Tokyo. —Nathan Myers