Sitting in the sunny front room of a sweet little Hawaiian house with Healey came about through a mutual mate who had just gone for an offshore dive with Mark. Though we have been in plenty of line-ups together over the years, Mark and I hadn’t gone on a trip together, which is my favourite way to get to know people, and so it felt good going to his house up in Pupukea Heights with a mate.
Mark in preparation (Carlos Serrao)
Because Lauren and I prize an open schedule, we’d left it to our last moment ‘on island’ to have a chat on the record with Mark. So, sitting there in his living room surrounded by all his water gear and classic little dogs scampering around I realised we were not going to get any quiet ambience on a Sunday arvo… the internationally understood time to landscape and mow neighbourhood lawns is a law unavoidable. Though I wasn’t that stoked to have those sounds in the background it did place Mark in the world of normal people… for a little while anyway. His super human feats in the ocean are well known in diving and surfing circles and it’s easy to start envisioning someone like him living an ocean monastic life and generally operating in another dimension of sorts, one that does not include lawnmowers or clock-time.
Mark with big fish. photo: mike hoover
Our chat flowed on very easily due to Mark being not only an articulate person but an experienced one. His observations from a life at the edge of all things makes for good listening and great stories. I have a friend who paraglides for fun and he loves talking about the ‘vibrant edge’, I assume he means the edge of safety when he is flying way above the ground with a fan strapped to his back and some thin material taut above him. But I know he also means the edge of all things being especially dynamic and rich.
“I look at those things I do as an extreme and condensed simulation on how to approach other things in life. There’s external forces at work that I can’t do anything about. I’m going to control with what I have, which a lot of times it’s just your mind. And part of that process of gaining control is by letting go of control.”
– Mark Healey , WPP Episode 5
Look at all of us waterpeople, we all thrive on that vibrant edge of the ocean. Hell, Lauren and I have never gone more than an hour or so inland from our home at the edge of The Pacific. Mark lives at the vibrant edge as much as possible, through diving, surfing, bull riding, yoga and breathing regimes. He happily oscillates between spaces.
Addressing the mind game.
This is why chatting with him was such a priority. I consistently need moments at an edge, and if I can’t get them, I like to at least make space for hearing other stories from there.
Mark Healey learning young
When Healey talks of losing friends in the ocean there is an intensity to the words that only comes from direct experience. Swimming a friend’s lifeless body to shore is something we wish on no person, but hearing what can be learned from the experience can be a valuable lesson for all of us.
An iconic photo of the late Sion Milosky and his daughter. In episode 4, Mark Healey speaks about the impact of losing friends like Sion in heavy water situations.
His knowledge is useful, emotional, and to be respected and appreciated by all of us who listen. Surfing can deliver these teachings that spill over into everyday life and Mark is adept at the translation. Though always with that same mischievous air that surfing itself carries. I have found most big wave surfers and deep divers to have a great sense of humour…often kind of dark or twisted… but still a great sense of humour. This is easy to hear when Mark talks about the reasoning behind bull riding in Mexico. To me it sounded like he rode that deadly bull as much for that little starry-eyed, red headed boy holding his flip flops as he did out of curiosity for the experience. And the teaching he gained from it all… gold. Absolute gold. I have always loved when people elevate a heavy or potentially cliched moment to a good laugh.
Mark bodysurfing on the North Shore. photo: Dave Homcy
So, thanks Mark. I hope everyone who tuned in gained something from this chat, and at the very least had a good laugh thanks to some good old-fashioned story telling,
— Dave Rastovich
Learn more about Mark Healy:
markhealeywaterman.com or on Instagram
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Special thanks to our sound engineer Shannon Sol Carroll
Music from this episode by The Band of Frequencies — listen to more of them here :
Header photo: Fred Pompermayer
Mark dancing the vibrant edge. photo: Pat Stacy