Local Currents

David Vanderveen

David Vanderveen

 Truth, Goodness and Beauty

 “For as long as man has sought wisdom he has known that there are three things we all long for…truth, goodness, and beauty.” Rev. Jeff Tacklind at Cody Day’s memorial service.
Thursday morning I was late driving from a surf session at Brooks Street to hit tennis balls with Lanny West at Alta Laguna and was running late. As I headed up Temple Hills, I got stuck behind a slow-moving garbage truck and started grumbling about the delay.
Almost immediately I remembered that Dave and Dallas that week were burying their 15-year-old son, Cody, a local boy who had battled brain cancer for over six years. It put my whole day in perspective.
Cody’s memorial service at the Laguna Presbyterian Church was packed with people who know and love the Day family. Jeff Tacklind, senior pastor at Church by the Sea, talked about the singularly important things in life that all people seek, and how sometimes a 15-year-old boy who has kept death at bay for a third of his life finds the thing that eludes the sages.
All I could think about was how beautiful life is in Laguna, how blessed we are, and how ultimate tragedies touch us all no matter where we live. I can’t think of anything worse than burying your child.
The previous week, with our feet buried in the sand, some of us forgot the beauty amid a transgression.

Over Memorial Day weekend, one of the four surf-school permit holders decided to take 53 students from the Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguelsurfing at Hakama Reef (between Anita and Thalia Streets) with seven instructors all at once.

If you don’t surf in the village, Hakama is where all the families and their kids ride soft surfboards and generally hang out. It’s a small patch of beach and a small reef system that gets overcrowded on the three big holidays—Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. It is the height of community disrespect to force local families elsewhere. The ocean and beaches are a public trust. Personal business interests should not dominate Laguna Beaches on holidays.

To the credit of the people on the beach, no one hassled the students or instructors. Everyone knew who the surf school was that created the problem. I took some photos and posted them on Facebook—I’m a fan of putting public issues in the sunlight. The images became a flash point of aggressive criticism and, ultimately, some wise engagement from other surf schools.

Some of the first responses were to get the lifeguards and city involved. To the lifeguards’ credit, they have put together a good program for surf instruction that is typically well-managed by the current permit holders. Their goal was to have the surf schools work out problems amongst themselves. The current problem doesn’t seem to require city government intervention.

There are only two community surf contests in Laguna Beach each year: The Spring Fever Surfabout and the Brooks Street Contest. This year, the Spring Fever Surfabout almost didn’t happen because the city decided that the contest organizers could not have a tent, could not have a PA and basically had to do it without any promotions.

The Spring Fever is an event that’s well attended by local families and spectators. Kids under 10 are pushed into waves by their parents with heats for everyone from young guns and wahines to more mature surfers. Community businesses sponsor the events and everyone who competes gets great prizes. This is a model of what we need to do more of, not limit and shut down.

It’s a good thing to see a community that cares enough to both get up in arms and to find positive solutions. The sun continues to shine, rain falls and new swells move across our reefs. For those who seek it, there is plenty of goodness, truth and beauty in Laguna Beach.

From now on, when something gets under my skin, I’m going to choose to brush off the irritant as best I can. If we’re not burying our children, we need to take a couple deep breaths, a few steps back, and remember how good we have it.

David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected].

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