Life in the Moment
A Story of Surfing, Family and Lasting Youth
Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this place—not for another hour, but this hour ~ Walt Whitman
Throughout his 64 years, Allen has experienced pure love and happiness in his family, fulfillment in his faith, and the insight to appreciate life as it exists in the moment. And all along the way, surfing – as an art, as a practice, as a lifestyle – has informed, influenced, and punctuated these experiences.
Allen was born and raised in coastal Wilmington, North Carolina and got his first surfboard for Christmas at 10 years old. This was in 1964 when the Beach Boys were topping the charts and the cool California longboarding scene was making its way to the east coast. Allen caught his first wave on that board next to Johnny Mercer’s Pier in Wrightsville Beach in the spring of 1965 and it was a moment that he remembers to this day.
He never intended or even dreamed that surfing would become such a big part of his life. It’s been over 50 years now since he caught that first wave and the effect that surfing has had, and continues to have, on his life is immeasurable.
The Home Break
Allen was instantly attracted to the surfing lifestyle – the beach, the water, the people, all of it. Immersed in the natural world, surfers take in the ocean, the waves, the sunrise and sunset. It’s a time to reflect, to unwind and to disconnect from the busy world. In Allen’s experience, it is also a time to meet new people and connect with other surfers. He has been surfing his home break at Wrightsville Beach for decades and gets to see familiar and new faces, young and old, at every session.
This opportunity to connect with people as a surfer has had a profound effect on his relationships with family and friends. Allen and his wife, Jodie, raised their son and 2 daughters as a beach family. The kids all learned to surf at a young age and they continued to surf with their dad as they got into their teens. Allen was the “cool surfer dad” among the kids’ friends. He got to know their friends, taught many of them to surf. He was accepted in their circles, and, as a result, he was plugged into his kids’ lives in a way that most parents of teens can only dream.
As his kids have grown, married, and had their own kids, Allen now has 6 children (sons and daughters in-law count!) and 8 grandchildren who all live within 5 minutes of his home in Wrightsville Beach. He gets to surf with his 5 oldest grandchildren and can’t imagine life being any better than that.
Never Grow Up
Allen has a sign he keeps in his surf shack that reflects his attitude and his approach to life: Whatever You Do, Don’t Grow Up. Surfing and family have kept him surrounded by young people all these years. Inspired by Peter Pan, one of his favorite characters, Allen has lived by this “Never Grow Up” mantra. He has the energy and the enthusiasm to enjoy life and the compassion to embrace the moment as through the eyes of the children and young people all around him.
Life in the Moment
The peace and calm, the exertion, wipeouts, triumphs and ultimate simplicity of surfing become how you live your life as a surfer. “On the water, it’s about you and a board. You and a wave.”
Bringing this focus and simplicity to life, Allen finds that he can prioritize what’s really important. This applies to family, to work, to life everyday. In an incredibly complex world, there’s no need to make things even more difficult. To live as simply as he can is an outlook directly influenced by Allen’s many years of surfing.
At its core, surfing is all about the moment. And it’s no different in everyday life. “Life is about the moment. If you’re not careful, you can be doing all sorts of things and really never even be there.”
He admits that during his working years, there were too many missed moments with his family. Even during times when he was with them in person, his mind could easily wander, navigating decisions and activities in his business. Allen is grateful to be at an age and place in life where he can live in the moment and be truly present with the people he is with at any time.
Around the World
Surfing has taken Allen around the world, to places like Barbados, Panama, Hawaii, the British Virgin Islands, and Costa Rica. He tries to take a surf trip at least once every year. He loves seeing the sun set over the Pacific and discovering beaches where the waves are always good. As far as finding good waves, Allen is a cruiser. Here’s what he describes as his perfect wave:
“A chest-high, maybe head high wave in crystal clear water. It’s breaking outside, the wind is offshore, sun is out, and the wave is just peeling from left to right. And you have these long, long rides where you can go up and down the wave, go back and forth, walk up to the nose. And then flip out, land on your board, and do it again. A perfect circle.”
We have been honored to have Allen as a guest at Florblanca on three separate trips. He’s been out surfing with our staff and connecting with local surfers beyond the resort. He has said that the staff becomes like your family here. When we hear comments like this, it brings us such great joy. Nestled out here in the jungles of Costa Rica, right up against the Pacific Ocean, we know we have something so unique, so amazing to share with our guests. We want to connect them with our natural world and guide them to experiences that will ignite their passions.
A Generous Spirit
18 years ago, Allen realized a lifelong dream to live at the beach in Wrightsville. Now he can check the waves every morning and surf year-round whenever the waves are good. And, maybe even more importantly, their house has become the central hub for family and friends in Wrightsville Beach. They can share their dock, their access to the water, and their beautiful home with people they’ve known throughout their life. They, in turn, are surrounded by happiness, gratitude, and a thriving youthful spirit.
Sharing the gifts of his life brings Allen tremendous peace and joy. “If you give,” he says, “it comes back to you.” In their family, they talk about the importance of lifting people’s spirits every day. They talk about “filling your bucket” through a positive attitude, kindness and generosity to others.
“I strongly feel that we are supposed to lift people’s spirits. Every day, that’s what we’re supposed to do. Life’s about picking people up and helping them be their best.”
Thank you, Allen, for your generous spirit, for your presence of mind, and the inspiration you provide to live life in every moment, every day.
Find other stories in our “Where We Belong” series: An Artist’s Retreat | Awakening – A Story of Yoga and Rebirth | Balance and Connection with Lucia