Video: The Coast – Finding Refuge in the Unknown

We’re a week into 2015, and we have no way of knowing just yet what this year will bring. Many of us make resolutions, vows to ourselves, to ride the wild wave of our lives—both darkness and light—with some semblance of grit and grace. But would you make resolutions today without knowing if tomorrow would come? In the adventure community, we are all too often reminded of just how fleeting this life can be. Knowing this, would you wait until today to be resolute?

Sometimes it takes an unfortunate reminder to do just that. In The Coast, Hayden Peters traded in his life in the city for the daily sting of salt water on his skin, and for vulnerability and uncertainty—and how it brings him balance like no other place on earth could.

We caught up with Hayden and asked him a few questions about The Coast

Adventure: How did you get involved with this film?

Hayden Peters: I got involved with this film through my friendship with Skip Armstrong and his curiosity surrounding my decision to leave the city and move out to the coast. He had spent some time on the coast with me and got a glimpse of the magic and freedom that this place offers and wanted to explore it more through my eyes.

A: What do you think Skip saw in your story and your relationship with the ocean?

HP: I think we have a common love of the subtle beauty of place and the details that get overlooked in the race that life has become. I think he sees and values the freedom that exists at the coast. It is literally the edge of two very different worlds. It becomes an excellent metaphor for life when stepping from the known into the unknown and being open to the experience.

A: How were you first introduced to the ocean?

HP: My first and coincidentally one of my happiest memories is of me and my mom sitting in a tide pool watching the creatures swim and scurry around. I grew up in Southern California and quickly found out I was vastly more comfortable in the water than on land. Being the smallest kid in my class and a first rate nerd meant most of my time was spent at the beach or in the water. My place of refuge, my church, my greatest teacher has always been the ocean.

A: What is it about the ocean, the coast? And what does it offer you that the city and other landscapes don’t?

HP: The ocean is my sanctuary and place of refuge. I still love spending time in the city and taking in the wonderful things the city can offer but for me it can never compare to being at the coast. I sometimes fantasize of moving to Montana or some such place and living out my days on a big ranch or farm, but through the years I’ve learned that I become ungrounded extremely fast relative to my distance from the sea.

A: What was the outcome of your diagnosis? How has that shaped your life since?

HP: My diagnoses results are irrelevant. To me it’s all about the lessons learned and experience had during that time. We’re all headed towards death, some of us more quickly than others, but I truly feel that watching the clock and worrying doesn’t improve the experience.

A: Why did you decide not to reveal the diagnosis within the film?

HP: I don’t think that specific info adds value to the story. It seems to me that if we keep our head up and keep moving towards those things that make us proud of each day then we’re doing okay.

A: What do you hope to inspire by telling your story? What do you think people can gain from hearing it?

HP: I hope that from this little glimpse of The Coast people can feel contented and even inspired by the uncertainty of life, that it’s okay to struggle and to not know. For me that reminder comes everyday in the form of salt water. The ocean is a place that truly scares me, humbles me, fascinates me, gives me courage and then takes it away. To me the ocean is humility, acceptance, and unconditional love. It is a mirror that shows me exactly who I am. It allows me to see both my faults and strengths and even that those terms are sometimes interchangeable. Hopefully this will give some folks the impetus to spend a little more time at the coast and experience some of its beauty for themselves.