What’s most meaningful to me at this point is doing my part.
We all have the ability to do our part. If you stick to doing what you can do, you never lose, you’re always winning.
What can make a difference in what we do is scale. I can put 10 water filters in my bag and save, potentially, thousands of lives. But if I get other people involved, if companies join in, and private donors and sponsors, then I’m going through a lot of the same motions, but scaling up the results.
What dawned on me at one point is that if I shoot for the stars and fall short, I still land on the moon.
I’ve always been somewhat socially conscious, or tried to be, though as a pro-surfer I had a pretty self-indulgent lifestyle. When my dad got involved in the water cause, I supported him in his passion. I saw what he was doing with Rain Catcher, the organization he started, and thought it was great. He worked in Africa, focusing on developing simple ways to catch rainwater and teaching people how to do that themselves so they didn’t have to walk five miles to a pond.
About six years later, when I was looking for a way to transition out of my surfing career, I thought, I can do that, too. I’d seen the need for it in all the places I’d surfed. Waves for Water was born out of realizing I could go to all the places I know from surfing and help. If I stuck to that list I’d be busy until I’m dead. That felt like a simple plan. Then the project transformed into more of a special ops mindset of providing urgent relief — not always in direct response to a disaster, like an earthquake, but in places that are disastrous day after day. We call this guerilla humanitarianism.
I tend to go full throttle. There are days when I’m more tired than others, but I still love it. It helps that my time as a pro-surfer gave me experience in learning to adapt to different cultures and traditions and in dealing with what we encounter when we’re out of our comfort zone.
When you’re on the right path you can’t make a wrong turn. I have a lot of passion for what I do. I do it because I love it. I’ve always done what I love to do. I’m not going to stop now.
- Jon Rose