Saltwater Buddha


For the past decade, ever since I worked in a bookstore, I've promised myself about once a month that I'm not going to buy any new books until I read the ones I own. Naturally, it hasn't worked out that way. 

Which is why I was so proud of myself when I finally picked "Saltwater Buddha" up off my bookshelf a month or so ago and started reading it.  I've had this book for what seems like forever, but Amazon tells me that I bought it in July of 2012. 

So, I mean, it only took me two years to get around to reading it. 

"Saltwater Buddha" is a meditation about the times that surfing and Zen Buddhism have crossed paths in author Jaimal Yogis's life. What was nice about this book was that it not only explored a personal relationship with Buddhism on the author's part, but over the course of the book, it actively forced me to adapt a Buddhist state of mind as I read it.

For instance: at first, I kept impatiently reading through each section in the hopes that it would contain an epiphany or enlightenment. If and when it did, they weren't epiphanies so much as they were small adjustments in thinking, realizations about the same topics that we all wrestle with daily and realize a hundred times over. Things like kindness, patience, and who we want to be when we grow up. 

Halfway through the book, I felt the shift. I had to remind myself that I was reading this for pleasure, for the ability to peek into this other life experience. Why did I need an epiphany? This book was about the journey, just like Buddhism is, and it slowly teaches you to read it that way. It forced me to relax and I started reading it more slowly... a few pages outside in the garden, a few pages in bed in the morning. It was nice.

Originally, I bought this book along with a few other surf memoirs because I really enjoy reading them. But with other surf books or articles that I've read, I read them as an outsider. The other nice thing about "Saltwater Buddha" was that it brought you in: Jaimal doesn't know how to surf at the beginning of the book and so you don't feel so disconnected from him if you don't know how to surf yet, like I do with other memoirs.

That made me think: this is a book I'd actually want to write. My own "surf" story about this hilarious and intimidating process of going from an East Coaster who had no idea how to swim to (hopefully one day) someone who can ride baby waves.  And that's how I went from getting frustrated with this book to being grateful for it. 

After all, the best books are the ones that make you want to write. 

2014 '50 Books' Progress: 5/50