The Conversion Process


“Brother, have you seen the light?”

I’m not an evangelist by trade, but I often imagine sharing this question with fellow watermen in the surfing tribe. The question is not religious, but does inquire if a waterman (or waterwoman) has reached the level of consciousness where he sees the connection between the land and sea; where he works and where he plays; where man has conquered his surroundings and where the assault is still underway; where his dwelling is and where his soul longs to be.

Some may never see it, but I am hopeful most will come to understand the ocean playground they enjoy is not immune from the actions of an urban society. And more hopeful that this epiphany will spur a waterman to doing something to protect and preserve the ocean resource that provides so much for him; a resource that is part of his identity.   

I saw the light in the spring of 1993. I was surfing Dog Beach at the San Diego River outlet a couple of days after it rained. It was my first and most memorable lesson in polluted runoff and “dose – response health effects” as they are called in epidemiology. I barely made it back to my apartment after work that night before falling to gastro-intestinal ruin for two days. Unfortunately, this is often the conversion process for many watermen following a session in waves of suspicious microbial quality.

For the brothers (and sisters) who have seen the light, you cannot go back to sleep. For your sake and the ocean’s, it is time to share the good word of pollution prevention. You can start with these eight easy steps to prevent pollution in your own life.