Like many poetic statements, this line can be left to individual existential examination. It is fitting, however, to commence a chapter in Jaimal Yogis’ latest work, “All Our Waves Are Water,” which he will be reading from at D.G. Wills Books on Sept. 23.
“All Our Waves Are Water” explores life’s perplexing challenges: dealing with loss, work-and-life balance, personal and collective purpose, joy, acceptance, and beliefs in a heady, yet familiar, manner. Similar to his previous works, Yogis interweaves his experiences and extensive knowledge of sacred tradition with exotic (and quite non-exotic) backdrops.
He does so all the while inspiring, and exploring, universal truths as though performing a laid-back cutback off the face of a wave, stalling to read its sections, then pumping forward on a 4-to-6-foot glassy day. That is, with ease.
“‘All Our Waves Are Water’ starts out with me as a 23-year-old journalism student living in the Himalayas, trying to escape heartbreak,” said Yogis. “In ‘Saltwater Buddha,’ I had skipped over this period of my life and always wanted to come back to it.”
The young Yogis endures the type of all-consuming heartbreak, to which many can relate. This will continue to plague him, in some fashion, throughout the book. All the while, he is struggling to publish stories (in a foreign country) and be regimented with his writing – for his eventual aim is to attend Columbia Journalism School, which would “ensure a decent career.”
Along his path, he befriends an upbeat Tibetan monk named Sonam. Sonam acts as a positivity source for Yogis, assuring him that it is okay to experience emotion and pain while still seeking enlightenment. In fact, in order to become enlightened, it seems as though one must experience these feelings.
Anger, jealousy and other “monsters of our existence” continue to plague Yogis. While brought up in what some would call a “non-traditional” manner, he was introduced to surfing, yoga and meditation at a young age. After his parents divorced when he was six, these practices weren’t a large part of his life until his late teens.
“I think I had a lot of anger at my parents that I didn’t know how to deal with,” said Yogis. “There was definitely some resentment directed at my father (for whom the book is dedicated), for I felt that he spent too much time working, and not as much time with me as I would have liked.”
“In regards to negative emotions, I felt as though at the time I was carrying this hurt and anger. Although I had been introduced to yoga, Buddhism, and meditation at a young age, I didn’t become zealous until I was 18 or so, hence ‘Saltwater Buddha.’ I think Jack Kerouac said it best that ‘[Buddhism] is best studied as a teenager,' highly due to one’s passion, curiosity, and doubts at that time in our lives.”
Throughout the work, Yogis weaves punchy, real observations rooted in his personal quest.
From attempting to master tube-riding in Puerto Escondido, often referred to as the "Mexican Pipeline," to living every surfer’s dream existence in Bali, Yogis is highly analytical in his approach.
After leaving Columbia Journalism school, he settled in San Francisco with Siri, his artist significant other. Working at a magazine, writing some pieces he was fond of (and many he wasn’t) Yogis faces a harsh reality while on a surf escape in Bali. Should he follow the rat race? Or live—simply, surfing and practicing his faith and personal philosophies?
“I could always see that I had options, but that freedom can often prove paralyzing,” said Yogis. "Ultimately, it was those options that helped drive my career, and life, forward."
While a great deal of the anti-establishment and rebelliousness found in his previous work bleeds into “All Our Waves Are Water,” Yogis has endured great life changes since his younger days. Now 37-years-old, he lives in Ocean Beach, San Francisco with his wife and two young boys.
When prompted if he still carries the bravado and antiauthoritarianism identified by surfers around the globe, since he is now an authority figure of sorts, Yogis laughs.
“You know... I hope so. I still haven’t taken a ‘real job,’ so I hope that I am following my heart and gut. When my first son was born, I wrote a children’s book titled ‘Turtles Don’t Surf,’ in which the outcome is one turtle eventually becomes a surfer. I encourage them to take risks, but at the same time want to stress that they have to value and heed the rules.”
Jaimal Yogis will be reading from "All Our Waves Are Water" at DG Wills Books, 7461 Girard Ave. on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.