Every book needs to start somewhere. So here is the prologue for This all Encompassing Trip.
“Are we getting something out of this all encompassing trip?” Eddie Vedder asks this question in the song Present Tense from Pearl Jam’s 1996 release No Code. It’s my favourite song from my favourite band and I’ve probably heard this song tens of thousands of times, yet, I had never really considered what the lyrics meant to me personally. That is until one summer afternoon in 2005.
As I lie on my surfboard out in the ocean off the shores of Wickannanish Beach on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, the water is calm, the sky is clear and, my back endures the intensity of the heat beaming down from the flaming sun. I patiently wait for the next set of waves that only scale about half my height. The following day I will embark on a trip across Canada with two guys from my hometown of Vancouver – two guys whom I’ve met only four times. We’ll be picking up a bunch of complete strangers to follow Pearl Jam on tour in a van, which we had just purchased only one week prior. The plan is to drive across Canada to do their entire tour and I have no idea what I’m getting myself into. All I know is that I have always wanted to drive across and explore my home country, and Pearl Jam has given me an excuse to do so.
Am I crazy? There will be 17 concerts in total, including a warm up show at
the gorgeous Gorge Amphitheater in Washington State, but I have previously seen this band quite frequently already. Do I really need to see more? Well, of course I do. This isn’t just any normal band. This is Pearl Jam. This is the music that I’ve grown up to, it has been the soundtrack of my life, and is the reason why I have the passion that I do for music. But still, isn’t this just a little excessive? I decided to do this without too much thought, and the decision was instantaneous as soon as the tour dates were announced. And although I’m usually very confident in all my decisions and stick with them through to the end, I wasn’t sure why I was so confident this time around. Somehow I felt that this is something I have to do.
Sitting out in the “lineup” resting my soul and my mind, I question myself.
Meanwhile, I’m peeking over my shoulders to study the ocean, watching and trying to figure out wave patterns and deciding which one to make an attempt for takeoff. There’s music running through my mind and it’s usually one of the songs that have been playing in my vehicle on the way to the beach. At this moment the song is Present Tense. A glimpse of hope approaches. I take a peek and decide that this is the one to go for so I turn back toward the beach and paddle for my life. The wave hits the back of my board and I feel that I’m there. As I’m reassuring myself, my board begins to dive and I slowly try to pop up, but hesitate slightly and it’s too late.
I fall toward the water with the wave breaking into me. While underwater, I’m taken for a spin, tumbling around like a helpless piece of clothing in a washing machine. A few seconds later, I escape but there’s another wave coming down upon me. Underwater I go again and the washing machine takes me for another ride. I’m stuck in this position for another three waves before the set ends and I can escape again. After making my way back out, I’m exhausted and I take a rest, but the ocean won’t allow it. I start paddling as an approaching wave sweeps me up. My board begins to dive again but, this time without any thought, I pop right up and drop smoothly in.
The wave nearly matches my height and takes me for an adventure. The
power, the speed, and the excitement of ‘walking on water’ put me on top of the world. I feel free – I feel alive. This one wave alone makes the whole two-day surf trip worthwhile and I take it all the way to the beach, satisfied and content to end my session for the day with Present Tense still on my mind. “Are we getting something out of this all encompassing trip?”
As I walk from water to sand, it hits me. Life is much like surfing. The ocean
is massive and unpredictable with endless possibilities. So you go out to a spot where you feel comfortable, you study its environment, you constantly evaluate and assess your position, you try to predict what’s going to come toward you, and then you have to decide where you want to go from there. You can stay put and do nothing and you’ll probably be safe, but do you get anything out of it? Do you gain any experience, do you learn, do you get any enjoyment? Or can you identify what you want and go for it when recognized? Patience is important as your opportunities may come infrequently but, when it does, you must grab it and make the most of it.
My whole life I’ve been studying and analyzing everything around me.
And when the opportunity came for me to take on the trip of my life, I went
for it without any hesitation at all. This is why I’m so confident. I’m ready to
take chances – I’m ready to explore and put myself into unknown places and unfamiliar situations. I’m ready to learn from it all and better myself in the process. If nothing else, I will meet some new friends on a crazy road trip. I’m ready for this adventure, this all encompassing trip.