The Surfersvillage Interview
Gerry Lopez wants you to live in the present moment wisely, earnestly
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 12 April, 2015 - It’s hard to define 1970s surfing without Gerry Lopez. Lightning Bolt surfboard, mustache and stylish slouch, sure, anyone can adopt these props and appropriate seventies cool, but Gerry nearly invented it.
At a time when an amorphous shortboard revolution was beginning to congeal and surfers aimed for the tube, Mr. Lopez defined how to get barrelled. His approach to riding the wave, zen-like, simple and beautiful, is still regarded as the de-facto Pipe approach. Style is making the difficult things look easy and effortless and Gerry showed a whole generation how to do it.
In talking with Gerry we realized we’re stuck in the seventies. It’s like we can’t wrap our heads around the fact that he’s had a few lives since those early days at Pipe, and has gone on to become a snowboarding disciple and Patagonia ambassador. But we, the surfing world, will always be fixated in that halcyon Pipe magic 40 years ago.
A lot of people cite you as a big influence in their surfing and approach to life. Who would you cite as an inspiration to you in both surfing and life?
In surfing, there were many influences…I think the surfers of my generation is Hawaii were all influenced by Duke Kahanamoku, George Downing and Paul Strauch, in that order. Duke was inspirational as an Ambassador of Aloha and an outstanding example of how to live a life with a Spirit of Aloha.
George was the most knowledgeable in all things surf or surfboard design related and graciously passed down his wisdom to all who were interested. Paul was an elegant, graceful person who put that grace and elegance into a style of riding waves that everyone, bar none, admired and sought to emulate.
As far as life in general, I took great inspiration from Paramahansa Yogananda early on in my life and later from His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
How would you describe what you do for work to a very small, inattentive child?
I build surfboards…do you know what a surfboard or surfing is?
What is that you do professionally that you are most proud of?
I have the great privilege and honor of being able to work at Patagonia and if you have to ask what or why…you won’t understand.
Tell us what has been your biggest mistake?
Not taking life a little more seriously when I was younger but isn’t that what they say…Youth is wasted on the Young.
What did you learn from that mistake?
To apply myself to everything I do now, take nothing for granted, stay present and breathe through my nose.
Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment (you know, punching frozen meat then running up the stairs of City Hall theme music blaring).
Falling completely in love with snowboarding the first time I did it and then rearranging my entire life to pursue this passion including up and moving my wife and son from Maui to live in Bend, Oregon.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Selling shoes?
I think I would be doing something like this…after all, don’t we always end up doing what we do best? I’m not much of a salesman…I feel I’m more of a thinker and a craftsman.
Please share with us five things you've learned
1.Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.
2.The season of failure is the best time for sowing the seeds of success.
3.The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.
4.The wave is the same as the ocean, though it is not the whole ocean. So each wave of creation is a part of the eternal Ocean of Spirit. The Ocean can exist without the waves, but the waves cannot exist without the Ocean.
5.Roam in the world as a lion of self-control; see that the frogs of weakness don’t kick you around.
Gerry's book "Surf is Where You Find It" is available in Patagonia stores and at Patagonia.com