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Power of Positive Thinking

Andrew Pacholyk

The sun breeched the horizon spilling liquid gold across the early morning canopy of palms. I was made aware of the symphony of paraquats hidden away in the banyan trees screeching their discord over who was to eat first. I could hear the repetitive rolling of the waves just beyond the trees. The brisk breeze brought the relaxing sound to my ears telling me that the waves were going to be great this morning. We stopped to wax our boards under a brooding mango tree.


Big Steena bent down and picked up a large juicy mango. "Oh look," he said, "breakfast!" He quickly whipped out a pocket knife and proceeded to separate the beautiful yellow-orange skin from its meat. He handed me the sweet golden fruit. "Chupa," he said. "Chupa, chupa."


I looked at him, half asleep. He picked up another mango, peeled off the skin, and put one end into his mouth. He made a slurping noise as he pulled the dense meat off the pit with his teeth.


"Awwww, chupa," I said. I quickly followed suit enjoying every bit of the mango's pulpy goodness.


We walked to a spot that Big Steena thought would be good for my skill set and there they were. An entire pod of wave worshippers perched off the coast on dawn patrol. You could hear the laughs and the ribbing going on between them as the air carried their howls to the shore. A couple heads turned to notice us. Probably wondering where we were going to park.


Big Steena leaned into me and said, "come on, let's wander." Which meant, let's go down the beach a little further to find our own waves.


I suddenly felt an uncomfortable feeling under my heel. I bent down and picked up a very small, smooth stone that had a little barnacle protruding from its face. "Let me see that?" Big Steena gestured. I tossed him the stone as he carefully observed it. He rolled it over in his hand several times. "It's a gratitude stone," he said tossing it back to me. "Keep it in your pocket. When you reach in there to get some change, you will always remember to be grateful."


"A gratitude stone?" I smiled. "I will remember that."


"Whenever you touch the stone, tell the stone and essentially the Universe something you are grateful for. It’s a powerful and affective way to bring gratitude, humility, and positive thought into your life."


On the South end of town was Kammies, one of Lahaina’s reef breaks. We paddled out to the soft shoulder. The waves were coming in at a strong, but even pace with the off shore reef adding to their size. It took me a couple of waves to get my bearings as I felt more and more comfortable with the right- handed waves that were pushing in. “Keep in that Magic Zone and you can’t go wrong,” Big Steena would remind me.


We surfed with a few of the locals who came over to greet Big Steena. “I knew these guys since they were little delinquents. Their parents turned them over to me as a path to rehabilitation after they got out of juvey,” Big Steena confided.


These guys were a little older than me. They cautiously looked me up and down to deduce if I was worthy of a nod. Even though we were surfing together, they kept that silent courtesy wall up between us, nodding occasionally when they seemed to approve of something I did.


“Me hoa says the harbor is really firing today,” I overheard one of the local guys telling Big Steena. He answered as if he understood.


“Well Golden Boy, Taavi says his friend thinks that the harbor has good waves today,” Big Steena translated for me, once he saw the confusion on my face. “Come on, let’s hit the harbor.”


He was right. Kahului harbor was Maui’s premier surf spot on the island’s North central coast. Known for its deep-water channel and reef break, this wide-open surf spot was full of locals and one of the most popular for tourist as well. After half a day in the harbor, we moved over to the West side. It is here that large swells crossed through the wide harbor entrance and often combined with swells bouncing of the jetty. We were joined by Bill and JackO. The wind had shifted and was now coming in from the South. The waves started increasing in size exponentially with swells coming in from the Northeast.


“Just in time for the big ones,” Steena gestured to the boys joining us. We sat out back, experiencing the increasing size of the ground swells. The waves were now towering and plunging into the sea. Because of the swell size combined with the steeper sloping shore, the waves were now cresting and creating perfect curls. The crowd of surfers in the water had increased. The water had changed.


You always remember your first big ride. It was my turn. I was up. This was not a wave. It was the power of chaos. It was a meticulous balance of beauty and temptation coercing you into its majestic folds, all the while testing you to see just how familiar you wished to become.


This was not a wave, but a bone breaking, board crushing steam roller that only gave up its power once sea collided with land. This was not a wave, but a fine crafted sculpture of liquid mass, magnetically pulled towards you and you to it.


"Take the risk," I told myself! "Even if I fail, I can get back up and try again.” I was too far into my comfort zone and it was time to make a move. If I didn't put myself out there, I'd still be standing in the same place. Here it was, the right wave. Can't think about it, "go, go, go". I swallowed the big ball of saliva amassing in my throat. Three strokes and I was up. "Just relax," I told myself, “It’s only water."


In a split second as, the water continued to roll over me, I would catch glimpses of sun spraying through the barrel, illuminating the curl with a prism of color. My heart was pumping with the possibility that I was actually doing this. My laser focus was steady, staring directly over the nose of my board with the beach to my left and the towering wall of water to my right. I felt confident in my actions, as if I had done this a hundred times before. I sensed the water escorting me through the tunnel as I reached the end of the curl. The wave would christen me with one final spray as it closed down behind me. I stepped off my board into the now shallow water, grinning from ear to ear. I suddenly remembered the little stone in my pocket. I reached in and touched my gratitude stone. I offered a quiet thank you. Exhilarated, I could only try to calm my rampant breathing as I recognized the accomplishment of a surfer's ultimate dream!


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