Live Like Jay: Love. Fear. And the Chasing Mavericks Premiere

Ocean. Deep abiding waters of endless movement. Diving. Driving. Deeper still. Current, overtaking a body. Jay Moriarity. Blue eyes and tan skin in an effortless swimming motion, one with the water. Afloat. Awash. The other side afoot. A white light astray. A deep heart. An unbreakable spirit -- the anchor. As life slips through. But a glance. Upward.

What would happen if you just let go? Floated through; Weightless. In harm's way. Come what may. What would you think? What would you feel? Would you panic? Would you still? Would you settle into the unknown, facing the fear of not being in control. Struggle. Drift... or Love. Would you choose love and dive into your destiny, head first. With out question. Say yes to the unknown. Be brave. Would you be brave?

To be brave, do we need to know what we're afraid of -- deep down? To get to the other side of fear must we acknowledge and isolate the fear in question; call it out; call it friend. Lover. Because it makes us human. A constant something to overcome. Empathy for our fellow tribe. The challenge to be kind to ourselves.

And the wave washes over.

It's been one year since the filming of this movie. This blessed story that came into my life where I got to play Brenda Hesson, Frosty Hesson' s (Gerard Butler's) wife and loving encourager/mirror. This movie came along when I needed it most. And now I'm seeing the movie... when I need it most.

Playing Brenda Hesson while filming in front of Hesson Surf Shack.

A movie made by surfers, about surfers. About the human spirit. The making of this movie was an undeniable pull amidst the key players to tell a story about mortality -- never made more apparent than by my father's recent and sudden passing, Gerry's near death surfing accident while filming, and Michael Apted stepping alongside Curtis Hanson as he had to deal with some personal matters. (Not to mention the hundreds of tiny boulders that you have to push up a hill to make anything that's worth while). But for all of us involved 00 Mark Johnson, Brandon Hooper, Walden Media, Bill Pope to mention a few of many, many -- the movie took on a life of it's own and became the exercise we needed to challenge us as individuals. Face our fears. See what we're made of-- art imitating life imitating art. Humanity and what it's capable of -- It's a beautiful and terrifying creature when things become bigger than you. Chasing Mavericks, the story of Jay Moriarity and Frosty Hesson has become bigger than all of us. We were just showing up and saying yes. (After saying no, and karate chopping around a lot. Then saying yes.)

Mark Johnson, Gerard Butler, Jonny Weston, Leven Rambin, myself & Michael Apted. Photo: Zimbio

I sat at the at The Grove in Los Angeles for the premiere, ivory, airy J. Mendel dress on -- (Something that I felt I could walk out of the premiere in right onto the beach.) My dearest friends and loves flanked on either side and throughout the theater. My little brother Sterling Spencer and his new wife Krystin and my cousin (and Sterling's camera man) Ryan Spencer a few seats down (all of us still grieving over the loss of my dad) with these thoughts tumbling about as the massive waves crashed over and around me in Dolby surround sound. Chasing Mavericks was truly made for the big screen. The waves washing over and making me clean. Making my heart beat faster. The cycle and repeat of the ocean guiding me in and out of my thoughts, I couldn't help but become aware of all of us being in the same room for the first time since we were up at Half Moon Bay. Jonny Weston who totally embodies Jay. Gerard, my partner in crime. Leven Rambin who plays Kim the love of Jay's life. Elisabeth Shue, who with such great humor plays Jay's broken and lovable mother. The Mavericks surfers themselves and Frosty Hesson, who sat but rows behind me. It made me think about where I was a year ago. And where I am now.

You see. I'm starting to feel better. I'm starting to feel better.

It's risky. And new. And I'm scared. Fear rears it's warbled elbow to slug me in the stomach and I'm kinda like. Ok. Bring it.

I'm starting to feel the inklings of unbridled happiness. My head is starting to bob up and down above the fray. Above the waves. I got really comfortable being devastated. And tortured. And drown-y. And sad, frankly. And now I don't want to live there anymore. I want abounding joy. And that scares the Shania Twain out of me. Because now I feel I can be hurt. There's more to lose. The simmering significance and shock of the many losses I experienced all at once in the past two years are never far away, but I don't want to live there anymore. I want... to live. I want to love again. Like a crazy overwhelming high school head trip that sucks all the oxygen out of the body, clothes discarding to heart beats & stereo jams. And that is cuh-razy to me, because it felt like I couldn't imagine anything beyond grief and kale salad a year ago while I was making this movie.

And yet here I am. A heart open. On the path to healing -- and it's wonderful and scary. Did I mention it was scary? And I have to be brave.

This movie was a life raft to make it through the first Thanksgiving with out my father. The first of many firsts of going without. To feel like my pursuance of art and what I loved mattered. That even though surfing wasn't my trade, my life could be a tribute to further my dad's legacy even though I wasn't the one out in the water. That hopefully, by some small possibility, I could keep his spirit going through my work. My way. In my style. To keep putting one foot in front of the other. To show up.

And I showed up. For 24 hours, in the middle of shooting two other projects. I made it to see my son. And see this movie. My dad would have loved this movie. It captures the spirit of surfing like I have never seen before. The surf photography is mind blowing. The surfing is fantastic. Designer and Surf Royalty Heidi Merrick, Al Merrick's (famed Channel Islands surfboard shaper) daughter was one of my dear friends in the audience that night, and through love and tears, she affirmed this feeling. That the movie was right. The story telling is real. You can take your whole family, and start the conversation that family can happen anywhere. And to anyone, and it doesn't require blood. But it does require showing up. Love. Love is showing up.

My dad showed up Thursday night. Jay Moriarity showed up Thursday night. And so did a theater full of people who made this movie happen.

Show up. For those you love. It isn't worth loving if it isn't worth losing. Fear and Love are but bed mates. We are always in training. Always in training for that moment, that the opportunity that love could ascend on us like a perfect wave. And it takes lots of lots of training to ride that wave. Chasing Mavericks portrays so clearly that getting ready for the moment IS the journey. And you'll never know or be ready unless you've been girding up your strength. Paddle paddle paddle. Unless you paddle for the wave, you'll never know if you could catch it. But once you do... Ride it as long as you can. Love as long as you can. As long as the wave carries you... You'll never know the unadulterated exhilaration of a life well lived unless you go for it.

I have to be brave.

My brother, Sterling Spencer & I. Chasing Mavericks after party.