tofino perspective

Tofino Perspectives

by Nate Jensen, Tofino

the letter 'T'

There is a picture that belongs to the first time I even visited the Eden that is Tofino and Long Beach. It was shot in late December at Florencia Bay. It is a photo of me sprawled out on the beach, clad in green hoodie, blue jeans and shoes that seem more decayed than the barncacle ridden boulders that marked the strand. On my barrel chest is the camera case, resting like a funerary strong box. I’m smiling.

What is it about this habitat that could make a vicious prude like myself loosen up enough to crack a grin? Is it the zen-like solitude of a morning in the overcast of Wickaninnish Beach? Or perhaps it is the friendly attitude of a complete stranger. Whatever the reason is, I have to complement a community that can bring the finest things in life, yet maintain the simplicity of the natural surroundings it finds itself in.

The day that the picture was taken, there were three or four surfers in the waters off Long Beach. I couldn’t believe that the waters that washed up on a shore of ice and frost covered trees and plants could actually be surfed. Yet here were the wetsuit clad warriors of the eternal give and take. The waves that carried them in were frothless, even in the crash of the curl. They rode the crests into the breadth of the wave like giant birds swooping suddenly to get their meal. Knowing how cold it was on land, I marveled that they could do something so daring. Then I remembered that Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys once said in an interview. He stated that one of the great things about surfing was “not one of those guys (or girls) out there is thinking about money.” I have to agree that the rat race is not out there in the water. It is a stress free zone.

For me, the beach was always meant to be a spiritual place, the communion of two mighty forces crashing together. The relaxed vibe of the place is conducive to meditation on the deeper things in life, acknowledging that in the wave, we are powerless to nature. We cooperate with it. How stunning and awesome it is to know that a few feet in front of you is the power to take you to India, or slam you headfirst into the sand. In my time in the water, I’ve been swept out a couple times, but experienced the latter more often. I think it takes us those times to be dragged under for us to really realize that we can get back up on the board, wipe our faces, and stare out onto the situation that God affords us.

That’s part of the magic of the area. Here man has proven he can coexist with his environment without taking the upper hand, or getting completely squashed. The naturalists can flock to Pacific Rim National Park, let the sociologists come to Tofino! It redefines the meaning of living.

It would take a tide pool surrounding a huge boulder at Florencia Bay for me to understand better how fragile and important our life is. The tide pool supported dozens of different life forms, all struggling to survive in an environment that while stable now, may shift later. I noticed the plight of a miniature crab, making its way from crevice to crevice in the water, gathering, postulating on a cluster of tiny sea plants, going about its everyday duties. When the finger of a more adventurous traveling companion entered the cold water habitat, the crab scurried to hide. Thinking about the delicate balance that the crab had gotten used to, how often do we have an interrupting finger come in and frighten us?

I will always look to Tofino as that special place where I finally smiled, where stress was eradicated, and the interventions of another force in my life were finally understood. Cheers and hats off to a place at the end of the road, that somehow teaches us where to start our journey.

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Tofino perspectives by Nate Jensen, written for Tofino Time Magazine, published in November 2004.

tofino time november 2004

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