Surfing Memories, Summer Yearning, Brother Love, and Bodhi the Beta

We’ve had Bodhi, a veiltail beta, for a month now. He’s a pretty rad little fish.

My brother, Dean Douglas, was a surfer. He surfed from Jones Beach here on the East Coast to San Onofre in California. For a long time, Dean was a superstar of the sport. He said that on any given day, he would go into the water grappling with all of life’s anxieties, and come out of the water at peace, a resurrected man. The ocean is a miracle.

Dean died in 2009. Malignant melanoma appeared on his sun-browned back one day, and not too long after, he was gone. He took a pass on chemotherapy, and decided to go home and ride his last wave. He died in bed, at home, with his family there. I was left with amazing memories of watching him carve the water, completely amped, then grubbing, then waiting through a lull, and then catching some new, glassy wave. And he taught me, whom he called a ‘junkyard dog’ (which I suspect is surfer slang for a really bad surfer), how to ride a wave.

I’m thinking about Dean today, and I think it’s because I’m yearning for summer. When I think of Dean, it’s always against a backdrop of sand, surf, and beautiful sun. The desire for warm weather and living water is getting strong. I’m really missing it.

This morning’s breakfast was the usual green smoothie with Hawaiian spirulina, barley grass juice powder, fresh turmeric rhizome, water, and banana. It’s a breakfast that I’m used to and I like. But I miss summer mornings, when there’s a fresh, young coconut to crack and eat. Our local Asian market gets jelly coconuts from Indonesia that are super wet and super sweet. There’s nothing as good as using a big spoon to scoop up and slurp juicy, slippery pieces of fresh coconut for breakfast. On a good day in summer, I’ll eat nothing but fruit. It’s awesome.

As a Buddhist, I’m perfectly aware that desire is the cause of suffering. But I think this yearning is more than a yearning: it’s a calling. All my life I’ve wanted to live where the air is warm 12 months a year. I solemnly believe that in at least one previous life, I lived on a tropical or semi-tropical island. Do you know the feeling? It’s like you know where you’re supposed to be, but you’re not there, so your mind often dwells there, while your body is here.

Thinking about Dean has me feeling sad today. Yearning has me a little tired. Today, I’m dreaming a lot. And I know that with each moment, we’re moving closer to jelly coconuts for breakfast.

We’ve had Bodhi, our veiltail beta, for a month now, and I haven’t yet posted his photo. Here he is. He’s doing great, and his personality quirks have emerged. He eats the yellow fish flakes, but not the red ones. He likes to play. He sleeps with his nose pointed downward. And as if he was made for us, he loves being surrounded by plants. He’s a completely sentient being, perfectly made, a fellow traveler, a fellow soul. A very rad little fish.

Live in peace.

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