Name: Jesse Billauer
Years Surfing: 30 years
From: CA, USA
A tired voice chimes in on the other side of the phone, “Heyyy Laurel, what’s up? How’s it?” Just getting home from a surf comp in Hawaii, jet lagged, and on the other side of the country, let’s just say I was stoked that he even answered the phone.
I met Jesse at a Life Rolls On event in Virginia Beach, Virginia. That event not only changed my life, but it connected me to hundreds of other like-minded individuals whom are fueled by the power of community and have a thirst for salt-water. Jesse Billauer was one of those individuals.
As the founder of Life Rolls On, I expected to see Jessie up on stage at the opening event, or down at the beach pre-paddle out giving some motivational speech, and yes I saw him at both of those locations, but perhaps by luck I also bumped into him as I was waiting for my girlfriend to arrive at the pre-event dinner. And that’s where this interview began…
Jesse: “Hey, I’m Jesse, you surf, yea?”
Laurel: “Hi Jesse, my name is Laurel,” (not connecting the dots that he created this event) we casually continue chatting, “yes, I love surfing. You?”
Jesse: “Yea, I love being out there in the salt-water too. You coming inside? Or just chilling out here??”
Laurel: “Just waiting for my girlfriend, then we will head in.”
Jesse: “Cool, I’ll save you seats at the table I’m at.”
Laurel: “Sweet, sounds good.”
Not really thinking he saved us seats, we put our things down at another table and walked over to the buffet line. We passed Jessie on the way. “Hey! Saved you some seats! Grab some grub and come sit down.”
This is Jesse… a professional athlete, creator of a life-changing organization, humble, and genuine down-to-earth guy. The evening was filled with surf chat, laughter, and ‘real’ questions, as he called them. It was like chatting with an old friend, comfortable, open, and relatable. The next day was incredible too. Hundreds of people gathered at the ocean’s edge as we harnessed the power of community and stoke. Seeing so many smiling faces, left a permanent-grin on mine. All that being said, I had to ask Jesse if he would do an inner-view for The Ocean Is My Guru, and like an old friend would say, “of course!”
When asked, “how has surfing and the ocean impacted your life?” Here is his response…
“It has created my life.” A profound statement with depths deeper than the salty-blue. “It has connected me to most of my friends, created the community I love.” Community, for Jesse, is one of the most important things about life. Sharing not only waves, but love and connection changes lives in his eyes. He goes on, “it’s also provided me with sponsors and ways to travel the world. It’s allowed me to create the life and lifestyle that I love.” On a character note, Jesse expresses, “it has given me a lot of freedom and independence. The ocean is just such a beautiful place.”
What is the number one thing that comes up in you about learning from the ocean?
“Well the ocean took away my ability to walk. It took away my ability to feel part of my body.” Silenced streamed for a moment, then Jesse utters, “it’s taken a lot, but it has given so much more.” He explains, “It has given me a place to be at peace. To be able to relax. After breaking my neck, I realized, that it was just a crazy storm, now the ocean is a peaceful place for me to be.”
If there is one thing that you could tell someone who has never surfed, but wants to, what would it be?
“Get your ass on a surfboard!” Haha, agreed! He elaborates, “The ocean is a whole different world. And you must try it out. But go during optimal conditions for your first few times. A safe mellow beginners wave is ideal. You want that person to really enjoy their first time, so they come back for more!”
How has the ocean affected you on a mental/emotional level?
“Any time I have worries on land, I just go to the ocean, and it goes away for the time-being.” Jesse’s time spent on, in, or around the water trickles into other aspects of Jesse’s life too. “It puts me at ease, it gives me experiences, and stories to share. It’s also a very spiritual place to be. Surrounded by nature, it’s a gift to be out there. Everyone has their own perceptions on things though. One thing that stands out for me is, I have learned that sometimes the best thing is to let go, and the ocean is that perfect place to press re-start.”
Cheers to you, Jesse! For being an inspiration, sharing your passion, and creating connection! Well said!