All Our Waves Are Water


Ever since I moved out to the west coast 9 years ago, I have strived (striven?) to continuously better my relationship with the ocean, surfing, meditating, mindfulness and yoga. And for the most part, save for few conversations with likeminded friends and a couple of amazing yoga retreats and surfing workshops, this journey of "bettering" has been conducted solo.

Except for whenever I pick up a book by Jaimal Yogis.

When I finished "Saltwater Buddha" and "The Fear Project," the first two books that I read by Jaimal, each book made me feel feel like I'd just had a long, restorative conversation with a friend about why this "bettering" was so important to us and what we'd learned so far along the way.

It's not that Jaimal's journey is anything like mine (it very much isn't), but the intention and authenticity and relentless persistence fueling his journey through surfing and spirituality has always felt so accessible and relatable to me. Moreover, it's a relief to take my mind off my own journey sometimes and venture into his.

So imagine my surprise when he actually reached out via Twitter last year and asked if I'd like to read his new book, "All Our Waves Are Water." I obviously jumped at the chance and he offered to send an electronic copy (which he did, though I also got a physical copy out of the local library).

I should admit... as excited as I was to read it, the situation was a little intimidating. This may sound narcissistic, but all of a sudden I felt exposed in this "conversation" I've been having without Jaimal's knowledge for years. I felt a pressure to ensure that my humble contribution to our ongoing dialogue (in the form of this post) would accurately capture and convey all that I get out of his work, and more specifically this new memoir.

This (totally made up, self-inflicted) pressure of both reading AOWAW and writing about it thoughtfully resulted in it taking me forever to get this post drafted.  It didn't help that 2018 was a whirlwind of a year, equal parts incredible and hellish. It was so crazy in fact, that apart from Jaimal's new book, I only read one other book last year, Jen Sincero's "You Are A Badass," for a whopping total of 2 books read in 2018.

Yeah! Take that, Goal of reading 50 books per year!

Anyway, AOWAW was half of my reading life in 2018 and I'm not mad about it. Like I said, Jaimal's work always feels restorative to me. It's calming in a way, almost like a long, guided meditation, on what it means to explore your spirituality. In this case, Jaimal takes us through that exploration post-college, picking up where "Saltwater Buddha" left off. He starts by introducing us to the lovable Sonam, his friend and accidental spiritual guide during his months living in the Himalayan mountains, where he was nursing his wounds after a breakup.

From there, Jaimal journeys through Mexico, New York City, Jerusalem, Indonesia and finally, back to Ocean Beach, San Francisco, where he shares stories about my favorite of his accidental gurus so far: the Queen of Ocean Beach, Carol Shuldt, who passed away just at the end of 2018 at the age of 85, body surfing nude in the cold Bay Area waters until her final days.

"I worship the sun and nature, I believe in myself.
When you're a spirited person, you create magic."
- Carol Shudlt

Throughout his travels, he grapples with an evolved desire for the ocean than he had in "Saltwater Buddha." In his first book, he had a suspicion that a more personal relationship with the ocean, a relationship he cultivated via surfing, would help him with his youthful frustrations, anger, search for zen and struggles with focus.

In AOWAW, though, his suspicions since confirmed, the question becomes if, how, and when to prioritize that relationship. When he's away from the water, seeking spiritual experiences and personal revelations through jobs, schools, and service, he often starts to spiral and more than once, abruptly abandons everything in search of waves.

It's funny to me, then, that he finds his perfect balance in Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Like I said before, while his journey has been much different than mine, I recognize it. Trippy enough, I found my perfect balance in Ocean Beach as well... Ocean Beach, San Diego.

There's a not-entirely-obvious lesson in AOWAW about accepting what it means when you crave the ocean so much. Reading along, I remembered times in my own life where I wondered what it would mean to reconcile what I needed spiritually (living a life of ease by the ocean) with what I thought I needed financially, professionally, or from an ambition or reputation point of view. It's probably something I'll continue to work through since the irony of living by the ocean is that you typically have to work hard to stay there (unless you find a hippie fairy surf goddessmother like the Queen).

Selfishly, I'm eager to see if Jaimal follows up AOWAW with what it means to tackle that in the next stage of his life and how he once again relearns to prioritize the ocean and his relationship to it in light of marriage and having and raising kids, since that's the phase of life I'm entering now.

Because honestly? I'll always be a fan of anything Yogis writes, but it would be really nice to continue this conversation.