I had planned this month to finish up a fun tutorial project for you. But life, as it often does intervened. This time it was on June 2nd with the passing of a local legend. Jack O’Neill, for those of you who are unfamiliar with him, brought us the modern wetsuit, and is a pioneer in the world of surfing. He also lived here in Santa Cruz.
Outside Jack's house on East Cliff
I did not know the man but in a way he is the reason I surf. There is no way I would brave the 50 degree waters of NorCal just in my swimsuit. It is astonishing the impact a stranger can make on your life. I was thinking in the days following his passing about the tagline for the Original O’Neill wetsuit:
“It’s always summer on the inside”.
What a wonderful sentiment. I know its an advertisement to help sell a product but for a girl that lives for summer, it works. Like, really good. And maybe I’m taking this too far, it is an ad after all, but the thought strikes me as very profound.
When I began designing the current set of prints for the shop I wanted them to make people feel like summer is in their hearts. Because that’s how I want to feel. The greatest compliment I received in college was from a teammate who told me I “looked like summer.” At the time I didn’t know what that meant, I still really don’t, but I love it. To be called the physical embodiment of my favorite season was pretty fabulous, so much so that I still remember it a decade later. Summer is what I’m always searching for. When I was younger it was a season. The season of my best self. As I’ve grown up I’ve learned that life has seasons too. But they don’t run on a yearly cycle, and they aren’t predictable.
I would have to say the season of my life for the past few years has felt a lot like winter. But the thing that has kept me going is the promise of summer. I have burned into my heart the words attributed to Albert Camus:
“My dear, in the midst of hate, I found there was within me, an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me , an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm. I realized through it all, that... In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”
Un été invincible.
An invincible summer.
Something better pushing right back.
Those are the words of a person who cannot be defeated by the weather or by the circumstances of life. Those words make me feel powerful at a time where I feel powerless. They give me hope when I have thought a thousands times that I’ve run out.
Camus may have brought summer to my soul, but O’Neill gave me a wetsuit. A manifestation of the truth that it can always be summer inside no matter what the world throws at you. He opened the door to a sport that I love, a sport that has helped me in my current season. Something that slows me down and forces me to consider the wider world and make peace with the way things are.
So thank you to the man that invented a physical reminder that summer is not just a time of year to be looked forward to with anticipation but a state of being for mind, body and soul.