Making the once known known again.
When I think about memorable summers, my mind instantly goes to the summer of 2000. After years of bumming rides and borrowing my mother’s car, she bought me my own. Now trust me I was not spoiled. My single mother spent YEARS working hard and moving us on up like the Jeffersons. If she wanted to buy her often overlooked middle son a car, that was her right! It does not make me spoiled. Anyway, I’ll never forget working a shift at Hollywood Video (my dream job at that time) and waiting for my mother to drop off the 2000 Pontiac Grand Am she had purchased for me earlier that day. When I saw it I fell in love. She was silver, freshly washed and glimmering like an angel in the sun. My angel. My angel with…manual windows. I’ve since forgiven my mother for that. Again, I was not spoiled.
That summer I discovered the open road. I’ve always considered myself a hippie of sorts and I’ve always had a deep longing to be free. To follow the skies and not have to answer to any man. I viewed that Pontiac Grand Am as the first step to freedom. All I wanted to do was drive off and not look back. With my mother’s permission I took a week off work, packed up my car and went on my first solo road trip to visit friends I had just made during Freshman year. Friends I still have 12 years later. I remember driving on 23S, AM Gold 1971 in the CD player, the blue sky welcoming me to the rest of my life. That is one summer that I would have followed around the world.
“The Endless Summer” is a documentary from 1966. Directed by Bruce Brown, it follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they follow summer around the world. Frustrated by the cold oceans of California winters, Hynson and August decide to embark on a trip that would enable them to surf year round. They travel to Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii as they chase their dream of never having to put their surfboards away. They find an endless summer.
The documentary was a great success. It grossed 20 million dollars, which was major for any film in 1966, let alone a surfing documentary. It further popularized the sport of surfing and also changed the way that people viewed documentaries in general. Before “The Endless Summer”, documentaries were known for being educational but not necessarily entertaining. Brown’s filming and narrating style make it almost impossible to turn the film off, thus paving the way for future documentary successes. In 2002 the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. This means that it has a legacy of being culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.
I am not a surfer. In fact I just learned to swim last summer. Nevertheless, “The Endless Summer” made a big impact on me. It got me thinking about dreams and how important it is to have them and pursue them. There is a scene in the movie where Hynson and August are in Africa, and they’re teaching the local children to surf. The children can’t get enough of this new activity and they are filled with so much excitement it seems like they’re going to burst. Hynson and August didn’t plan for this to happen. The children’s joy was an unintended consequence of them chasing their dream. When we have the courage to pursue a dream, life is birthed. Life is birthed in us and in those with whom we come in contact. I’m reminded of that summer in 2000 where I was following my dream of being free. Life was birthed in me. The summer of 2012 is shaping up to be another of those magical summers and watching the film inspired me to keep pursuing my dreams. I’d like to encourage you to do the same. No matter how crazy they may seem, dreams are in our hearts for a reason. Whether or not we have a surfboard, every summer has the possibility of being endless.
Do you have dreams you’re afraid to pursue? Have you taken a risk and followed a dream even though people called you crazy? Have you been given life from someone else’s dream? Let us know in the comments section. Also make sure to check the box below your comment so you can be notified when someone responds to you. Thanks for being part of this week’s excavation. You can watch “The Endless Summer” for free on YouTube or stream it on Netflix.
*editors note – My mother read this and reminded me that it was my grandfather who picked out the car. He was the one responsible for the manual windows. Paw-Paw we need to talk…..