Name: Jay Liesener
Years surfing: 10
From: Washington DC, USA
I couldn’t help but want to be near Jay and his wife Mel. The love, connection, energy, and smiles they radiate influence everyone near and far. I’m beyond blessed to have had the privilege of spending an afternoon with them.
When asked… Has surfing influenced your life? Has it influenced you as an individual? If so, how? Here is a glimpse of Jay’s response…
“I could swim before I could walk,” a smile grew upon our faces as this conversation began. It wasn’t long after he could walk that Jay started surfing. His dad had the opportunity to teach at a University on Oahu, Hawaii, which prompted the perfect setup for Jay to step foot into something that would be part of the rest of his life. At age 7, Jay caught his first wave. Reminiscing, “from the first wave I caught, I knew it had to be part of my life forever. After that our family vacations were always at the beach.”
At age 17, Jay experienced a severe spinal cord injury which radically changed his life. Emotions bubbled behind the lens of my shaded sunglasses as Jay voiced, “I didn’t get in the water for 18 years after my injury. Then I saw the movie Step into Liquid, featuring Jesse Billauer, it really got me thinking.” Shortly after, the Life Rolls on Event was heading to the east coast, and Jay knew he wanted to participate. So, Jay and Mel headed down to Virginia Beach where Jay got a well overdue surf session in. After that experience, surfing interwove itself back into Jay’s life. “The first year after the event I only surfed once. The second year, twice. The third year, three times. Then we started building a team locally. The team goes out every week now!”
As we reflect on how he feels now that he gets to surf more often, Jay expresses, “during that period that I was out of the water, it felt like there was a hole in my life. The action of surfing as well as the connection with the water filled what was missing for me.” Jay continues, “on a personal level it’s the one place I can go where everything seems to make sense, even with all of the chaos. In the water, my focus becomes so direct, that I find peace in my brain. Through surfing I get outside of the pain, I’m just connected and present with what I am doing.”
Surfing has also impacted Jay on a social level. “I depend on the people that help me, it’s been one of the things I’ve had to learn to accept, but through that, everyone has become family. In a sense, we have built a whole world around surfing, creating so many connections, building a community, forming bonds. It’s enhanced our lives across the full spectrum.”
I asked Jay, “has surfing helped you become, a better person?” His response, helped me reformulate the question I asked, and provided insight on a whole new level…
“Surfing has helped me become more of a complete person.”
I could go on about this afternoon with Jay and Mel for pages and pages, but this seems to be an appropriate place to stop.
To get to know more about Jay, check out his FaceBook page, Team Surfgimp. The team is purely an inspiration on many levels. Cheers to you both- Jay and Mel, for being the people you are.
Couldn’t be more stoked to add this to the collection of The Ocean is My Guru’s “Well Said Wednesdays!”