In the world of noise and busyness, there are people and places that cultivate a deep experience of silence and solitude. This confluence of both personality and environment is beautifully described in a recent article on the number one surfer in the world: John John Florence. Described as a “supremely self-aware and entirely comfortable introvert, Florence likes to keep unnecessary human interaction to a minimum, which is hard work when you’re the best surfer in the world and a figure of universal adoration.”
On a recent surfing trip to a remote island of the coast of Tasmania, he and Dave Rastovich paddle out against a current that is ferocious. Florence quickly gets into his own, quiet space of being totally absorbed in the moment at hand. For four hours they surf without a word.
On the way back to the farmhouse rental where they are staying they get talking about silence. “Rastovich speaks on the subject with some authority, as for years he wouldn’t speak on Tuesdays. He recommends Florence read a book called “Quiet”, which examines the role of the introvert in an increasingly noisy society. Florence’s filmer, Erik Knutson, the man whose job it is to get Florence to talk to the camera, chips in disapprovingly: “Don’t encourage him!” Florence laughs and tells Erik he should read it himself, and then downloads the book onto his Kindle as soon as he gets back to the house….
Florence makes few concessions to his stardom, placing a premium on his privacy and his space. He is simply living the life he wants to live, pushing back against a world that demands more and more….Whatever he happens to be working on occupies long stretches of time and his attention span doesn’t fragment. Whether it’s his photography, sailing, beekeeping or surfing, everything is deep immersion. He quietly loses himself in them for hours.” *
I feel such gratitude for people like John John. People who are unafraid to live the life that is theirs, staying relaxed and steady against the pressures to be or do things that are contrary to their gifts and instincts. His love of the ocean and its ever-changing landscape is palpable, as is his ability to live in the now – being present to this world as it comes to him moment by moment.
It is a pleasure to bring him into the field of our awareness this month as we honor the role that silence and solitude play in a life well-lived. May we have the courage to live the life that is ours and embrace the ever-changing wonder of this planet we all inhabit.