Slipping the “Chasing Mavericks” DVD into the player, I didn’t expect much. The trailer pointed to a “Karate Kid” meets surfing movie where a fatherless boy learns the Zen of the waves via a Miyagi-esque teacher. The film offered many scenes with the cliffs, pines, and waves reminiscent of the beaches near my hometown in Southern California.
Fortunately, the film exceeded expectations. Set in the early 1990s, the plot follows Jay Moriarty, a fatherless teenager, with aspirations to surf Mavericks, a location known for big wave surfing near Half Moon Bay in Northern California. I kept waiting for the “wax on wax off” bit; however, it never came. Instead the Miyagi figure gives the teenager assignments like, “Give me a report on the surf conditions at Mavericks” and “What do you fear most?” Jay does have to learn to hold his breath for 4 minutes and be able to paddle an extremely far distance.
The film is really about someone who sets a seemingly impossible goal then does everything necessary to do it. Furthermore, this someone doesn’t require any particularly special gadgets nor resources. Hard work — both physical and mental — plus determination and love seem to be the main ingredients.
“What do you fear?” the Miyagi figure asks. Explaining that while fear is healthy, panic is “deadly.” More importantly, fear can not only restrain you but can also prevent you from even stepping out of the door in the first place.
I know I fear not reaching my potential. I’ve been endowed with many advantages — some would say privileges — that should make me successful. I sometimes worry that even if I put all my efforts and energies into certain endeavors, I’ll still come up short. Then what would I do? Similarly, I also worry that I focus too much on seemingly impossible professional goals, e.g. becoming a “rock star,” that I will miss relatively mundane human goals, e.g. starting a family, buying a house. Acknowledging my fear, I believe, is the first step…