That September 11 moment...
Yesterday I was with my two friends Loudon and Patrick. We were at the pub. The vibe in the air was buzzing. In a surf town, watching your heroes in good waves on a big screen and filling yourself with beer is a very pleasant thing. The final is about to paddle out in the water. Patrick leans in to me and enters that little bit further into my personal space than one would while sober "I fucking love this man, watching surfing with my bros. I am going to miss you". Patrick is going to Asia on a training excercise with the army. "lets make babies when you come back" I reply to him. A slightly faceatious but nonetheless tender moment with a close friend. His response is hard to translate but the underlying essence was emotion. The practicality of us having children and the reponsibiltiy of raising children as two straight men with no sexual attraction is difficult to comprehend. Patrick is a good man though. We are all having a good time is the scene I am trying to set. All oblivious of the sudden dramatic twist, that will rattle us all to our cores.
The contest starts, the siren sounds and quickly Julian catches a wave, continuing in the same grain of form that has got him this far in the contest. It is a mid range score, he slices and dices and sets the scene for what we all are sure will be a worthy battle of two aquatic swordsmen. The attention is now on Mick. A guy who is surfing like a cat on acid. The camera centres on him, nothing is happening. He is sitting on his board contemplating his next move. As it is the start of the final of J Bay competition everyones attention is on the screen awaiting Micks first parry, his answer back to Julians opening score. What happens next is now recorded in the history books, a moment not only in surf history but that of live sport. A defenseless human put in that most fragile of situations with an apex predator. At first to most of us it was hard to absorb what we were seeing. there is a disturbance in the water. Is it a school fish trying to forge a path through where Mick is sitting. Is Mick having an epeleptic fit? There is thrashing, Mick is off his board. Something bumps into him and then he disapears. The whole pub holds its collective breathe. Is the next image to be broadcast to our screens a pool of blood and one of surfing most loved and decorated stars bleeding to death with his whole family watching, totally helpless to his plight?
"No fucking way" Patrick grabs my shoulder. I can't talk. Is this really happening? Mick gets on the back of a wave runner apparently unscathed, He is holding his severed legrope in one hand, everyone is looking for blood, expecting the worst. the legrope is a reminder of how close the razer sharp teeth were to his femoral artery, an almost guaranteed ticket off this mortal plane. "Lets go to my place we have to hear what is going on" Loudon is halfway out the door, in action mode. His life saving side kicking into gear. I am not sure what he is hoping to be able to do, but i can tell he wants to do something. We all need to go sit together and focus in on what is happening. We all feel like we know Mick, to see that happen was a very real reminder of the unpredictability of all our lives. Mick just won the lottery. not a scratch on him and the replay fills the screen of every surfer from Rio to Sydney. how close Mick had come to checking out is very apparent.
Much like September 11 attack there is that instant feeling that everything has just changed somehow. That the world has shifted and as we are all a part of the scheme of things we have changed to. Much like September 11 I will always remember where I was on the day Michael Eugine Fanning was given a very sobering life lesson, while the world watched.
Don't kill sharks but please respect your life. respect this impermant mortal coil. Hold your loved ones tight. Take a deep breathe in unison with Mick and ponder what he is pondering right now. How close for him. How close for all of us.