Janet Meinke-Lau

Art and Surf Blog

Conversations around the process of creating and being an artist and surfer.

Nace / Born

My friends and I were biking and exploring Block Island, Rhode Island, a few summers ago. While taking a path towards the sea, we came upon a gift - a poem and sculpture installed by a stranger. I was instantly in love with the poem. Maybe it was also a sign that I was going to be near the ocean very soon.

Yo aquí vine a los límites
en donde no hay que decir nada,
todo se aprende con tiempo o océano,
y volvía la luna,
sus líneas plateadas
y cada vez se rompía la sombra
con un golpe de ola
y cada día en el balcón del mar
abre las alas, nace el fuego
y todo sigue azul como mañana.
— Nace por Pablo Neruda
Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying,
everything is absorbed through weather and the sea,
and the moon swam back,
its rays all silvered,
and time and again the darkness would be broken
by the crash of a wave,
and every day on the balcony of the sea,
wings open, fire is born,
and everything is blue again like morning.
— It Is Born by Pablo Neruda

Everything is blue again like morning. A new day, new possibilities. A rebirth with the crash of a wave. I often feel this sense of redemption and hope when I surf at dawn - watching the darkness break into pastel colors of blue, purple, pink, and the fiery sun rising behind Waikiki and Diamond Head. I am reminded of a similar feeling expressed by surfer and artist, Drew Brophy (author of Painting Surfboards and Chasing Waves):

As my mind began to wander, I felt cold and alone, as if I was nowhere in time or space, just another soul or spec of light in the night sky so far from each other.

Finally a tiny faint glow in the distance caught my eye, it steadily grew larger with every second and in a sudden burst, a tremendous wave of light raced across the sky. In a fraction of second it erased the darkness and the millions of stars. I instantly felt the warmth of the light as the wave illuminated me. I embraced it and basked in it, it felt like God’s warm hands on my face.

I was no longer alone, a new day had been born, the endless waves and our beautiful world came into view. This is our true gift, every single day."

At moments when I feel stuck, like I’m not going anywhere, surfing at daybreak unsticks me. The soft colors gently remind me that I won’t be in the same place next year, next month, or even tomorrow, though it feels like I might. And I am not alone in all of this wonder.

Rereading the poem and writing this blog post is helping me to refocus my energies on appreciation. Recently I’ve been feeling behind and overworked - like I’m doing so much, but there’s ever more to do. The sunrise reminds me to slow down, look up, and be present to receive the gift.

16x12”  Mokoliʻi  Art Print available in my  shop .

16x12” Mokoliʻi Art Print available in my shop.

I painted the Island of Mokoliʻi (Chinaman’s Hat) with the intent to capture how I feel when I see the mystical, magical sunrise, clouds floating in a cotton candy sky, while I am in the water and bathed in tender, gentle hope. The original painting is hung up in the home of a good friend, nestled in the mountains of Oregon. I am grateful it can serve as a reminder of the ocean and of Hawaii for her family.

Janet Meinke-Lau