The Count Basie Orchestra is in Hawaii, on our way home after a week in Japan. One of the beautiful things about traveling with the band is that you get to experience things that few get to experience. For instance, many of the band members announced that, with this visit to Honolulu, they've been to all 50 states. I think I'm here for another experience altogether.
When I graduated from high school I established a bucket list of sorts: a list of things I wanted to do before leaving this plane. Looking back on it, I’m surprised at how limited my thinking was at 17. I’ve lived a good life full of accomplishment in many dimensions. 20 years after graduating I’d done virtually everything on the list and hadn’t thought about the list for a decade. So yesterday when I walked past the sign advertising surf lessons I was somewhat shocked to recall that the only thing from the list I hadn’t done was surf in Hawaii. A couple of phone calls later I had a lesson scheduled.
Now I’m not a guy who’s lived his life in the water, so I tried to stay very focused during the lesson. But on the return I started to realize that there may have been a reason that surfing was last on my list. There were lessons for me on the water that I want to apply to my life. When I started surfing the lesson, my mental image of paddling out to the waves was about power and force in the water. When I’d finished the lesson my concept of paddling was gliding on top of the water with stability and minimal resistance. When I started the lesson I thought I’d be steering where I wanted to go on the waves. When I finished the lesson I’d learned that it's more about going with the flow of the wave; reacting gracefully to what nature gives you. My first few times popping up I was looking down to make sure my feet were stable. A second later I was in the water. To really surf, you can’t worry about your stance. You can surf even if it's not perfect. Instead, you keep your focus on where you’re going and the wave magically takes you there. Now I want to be more accepting of what God gives me and glide with even greater steadiness thru the turns of life. To ride the waves of life, perhaps I need less force, less will, less strength, less tension, and more balance. I’m pretty sure that this lesson was available to me in my 20’s or 30’s, but maybe now I’m ready to learn and grow. Maybe last is right on time.
We're playing tonight in Lewars Lounge, a intimate club inside the Halekulani Hotel resort. This gig will be unusual because a small group comprised of several members of the Basie Band will be performing. Tonight I'm going to take my surf lessons to the gig with me. While my role as bassist is to establish rhythmic and harmonic underpinnings of the music, I want to be open to where guys want to take the music. I want to be both deliberate and confident, but also free and responsive to new directions. Let's see how this "surf bass" works out.