aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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not a bad way to go
Posted by dav at 2006 January 26 09:05 AM
File under: Thoughts

Last week I started following a story about an unidentified surfer who drowned off at Ocean Beach here in San Francisco. I've had a couple of close calls myself while surfing, so this kind of news always gets to me in a way.

In the end it turned out to be a friend of a friend, someone I had met briefly at a few dinners. You can read more about it (and watch a touching video of Sean) at Alex's memorial page here: Candleblog - Sean Fahey.

I never know what to say to someone who has lost a loved one. Everyone handles death differently. Normally I say as little as possible. This time I felt like I really might be able to offer a unique perspective though, and decided to give it a shot. Apparently it did actually help in a way, so I've decided to repost an excerpt here. Perhaps it can help someone else too.

One time I was surfing in waves far larger than my ability to handle them. There were very few people out so I was more or less alone with nobody near me. I took off on a wave and wiped out. I was held under water for quite some time, rolling around. When I struggled to the surface again I realized my surfboard was no longer attached to my leg leash and was nowhere in sight. I was now in the area where the waves were crashing down; the water was way too rough and I was too far out to give me any hope of making it to shore swimming. After a few minutes of struggling and making no progress and seeing no one around me I started realizing that this was probably it for me. I was going to die out there. My strength was almost gone. I had been knocked under water several times by huge waves. I knew I would not be able to struggle to the surface one more time after the next one hit me. Moments later two surfers who had noticed me finally made their way over and rescued me.

And here is the part that I want to relate, because maybe Sean had this moment too. I hope he did.

After becoming exhausted fighting to stay on the surface, when I realized I wasn't going to make it a great calm came over me. I was truly at peace with this being the end; I'll never forget the feeling and ever since that day I've hoped that it would be there with me again whenever the real end came. I thought about the people I loved and the people that loved me and I just wanted to tell them "it's ok, not a bad way to go" and I hoped they would understand.

Sean, I hope you're at peace.


If you ask me, that's probably the most powerful post you've ever written. I'm surprised you never told me that story.

I'm thankful to your rescuers. Now that you wrote that, I'm sure Sean's family and friends are too.

Posted by: cheesebikini on January 26, 2006 11:53 PM

Good post. I'd hope that I'm able to come to that sort of peace before I finish this ride.

Makes me wonder if there's any predisposition that would help or hinder getting to that state.

Posted by: Paul on February 1, 2006 11:15 AM

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