Hi.

Welcome to my blog. I'm documenting my volunteer work and travels through a series of letters to family and friends while on the road. I hope you can stay a while - make yourself at home. 

Beau - 7,672 miles, 500 hours

Beau - 7,672 miles, 500 hours

Dear Beau,

The plan was to write to you when I first start surfing, but just like that my time in SF has flown by and I just went out for my last session yesterday morning. Boy was it a beaut.

With day light savings time just ending, the sun rises around 6:45AM which means we were up around five to get to the beach by six. We pulled up to a near empty beach with a clear sky just starting to show first light. As we suited up, there was near picture perfect four to five foot waves breaking clean, made only more amazing by a pod of whales breaching a couple hundred yards off shore. Once we started to paddle out and the sun began to rise, we noticed a massive flock of birds flying around the pod of whales. Based on the dorsal fins and dark black color of the whales breaching, I'd like to call it a pod of orcas but I'm no marine biologist. 

That morning was probably the closest thing to a perfect wake up that I can imagine. Being immersed in big blue with great friends, wildlife, and amazing waves really puts things in perspective. There's not much we need outside of good people, good times, and a little bit of mother nature to keep us moving in the right direction. As I caught my final few waves in SF that morning and left the beach, I was reminded of our times out on the beach in Oz, and it made me excited for our next trip somewhere. This time, we'll definitely need to get a couple boards. 

Feeling very clear and content, I rode off to the SF-Marin Foodbank for work that morning, to continue the volunteer project I've been working on during my stay here. I'm helping their policy team by doing some research and brainstorming around an advocacy approach for the SNAP program in California. The project has been unlike any of the volunteering I've done on the trip up until now, but it's right in my wheelhouse and is leveraging a lot of the knowledge I gained while up in Madison. Doing more skills based volunteer work has been truly an incredible experience and I hope to do/see more of it in the future. It allows so much more passion to come through from both the volunteer and the non-profit, which I think in turn drives much more value across the board than traditional volunteer work. Also, I think it really opens the doors for more of the tech-based volunteer projects that in my opinion non-profits so desperately need to keep pursuing. 

With only a couple more days left in SF, I'm sad to be hitting the road, but also excited to move on to Los Angeles. One of my favorite parts of the trip has been all the time I'm able to take to reflect while out on the road. There is quite a bit to think about for the upcoming trip to LA, but more recently I was thinking about our friendship and how it's shaped me over the years. 

Throughout our lives I think there are individuals who help support us in trying to be the person we're already trying to be, and then there are some, albeit few, who come and truly change us and mold us into the person we can be. I can say without a doubt in my mind that you have been the latter for me, and that your presence in my life has had a part in making me who I am today, and making me a genuinely better person. You were one of the first people I ever paid attention to that taught me to stop caring about what other people think of me, and to start caring more about other people. Being someone with anxiety throughout the majority of college, you can only imagine how much this mindset helped to ease the day to day. As anxiety has crept up and got worse recently, it has been something I'm trying to once again focus on, and it's serving me very well so far. 

It's been too long since we've had the chance to hang out together in person, but with us I'm never too concerned. I think there are some relationships that are kept because they're easy or convenient, and others whose strength is inherent not in the time spent together, but instead the bond that the individuals share. Just as before, I find us in the latter. 

Love you like a brother,

Jonathan

Mitch - 8,164 miles, 508 hours

Mitch - 8,164 miles, 508 hours

Connor - 7,543 miles, 428 hours

Connor - 7,543 miles, 428 hours