The Biniak Session
I learned from a friend yesterday that Bob Biniak died recently. I know this is primarily a surf blog, but like so many other surfers of my generation, I grew up skateboarding and worshipping at the altar of Zephyr. I'm not quite sure that I would call the 46 year old me (as opposed to the 14 year old me) a skater. I have no interest in doing ollies or watching street skating. I don't care if Danny Way jumps the Great Wall of China—although I do think Danny Way is amazing. I guess I think of myself as a surfer who skates. And as that person, I am truly saddened by Biniak's death. Let's tell it like it is. It's bad enough when someone dies, particularly someone you remember from your youth. It's even more painful when that someone is in your generation and dies from something that generally kills us in our middle and senior years, thus reminding you that you are no longer the young pup to whom death is but an afterthought.
I decided I would have to surf today in homage to Biniak. I started out at my home break. It is one of the breaks where the young Z-Boys littered the lineup as locals. Some still frequent the place. (As is my practice, I will neither name names nor the spot.) My intent was to do a Biniak session at a place where Biniak would have surfed as a kid. Unfortunately, the tide—at over six feet—ruined all of my plans for such a session. While there were waves, they weren't up to my standards. I'm long past the point when I will paddle out into anything.
I headed south, knowing TPWSRN would have something for me to surf. And surf I did. I would love to proceed to describe some magical wave that came right to me, picked me up and allowed me to enjoy 200 yards worth of face time. You know, one of those idyllic stories about how someone recently departed was obviously watching over and symbolically speaking to the protaganist. Well, that didn't happen. As far as I know, that rarely happens. What I did was surf waves that were primarily closed out. Nothing about the waves during this session was noteworthy.
And it didn't have to be. Noteworthy, that is.
We are all on this journey together. We start out from different places. We embark down different paths. Inevitably, though, the destination is the same no matter who you are, where you've been or where you think you're going. Death is what we're all racing towards. Now, as you can probably tell, I have no hesitation about discussing death. A character in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying says something to the effect that the whole point of being alive is to get ready to be dead a good, long time. Well, yeah. That's true, isn't it?
Biniak's journey is over. He made it to the ultimate destination. I would argue that he arrived a bit early, but I also realize that you get there when you get there. My Biniak session, then, was (as is common when someone dies) a reminder to me that I'm still making the journey. All of us who are still breathing and doing what we do continue down our various paths. We can't stop our journeys just because others finished theirs. It is the human way to consider that—stopping when those around us reach their destinations. I certainly did when my dad died. I probably stood in the middle of my path for a good month contemplating life and death, then I got myself together and continued on my way.
I would bet that Biniak would want all of us skaters and surfers to keep doing what we do. Keep going down those paths. Live your life and do it like you mean it whether you surf, ride a skateboard or spend the majority of your time sitting still and reading books. Just remember not to waste too much time sweating the small stuff.