When a friend or family member passes one usually finds them self in the way-back machine of remembrance. A smile, a laugh, a favor, favorite moments, a kindness, and wisdom shared all take on new meaning in the finality of the source. The mortal end of a casual friend is no different. But where does one find words to reflect the sense of trust in a kindred spirit or the respect of a boss who never let you forget you were peers?
Following Polyhymnia, the muse of Sacred Poetry, I tripped down memory lane to the place where I first encountered the man who would change my life with a phone call. Also known as "She of Many Hymns," Polyhymnia has always brought distinction to writers whose works have won them immortal fame. And since Gary will always be known as the Surf writer, I figured it would be wise to have would have Ms. Poly serve as muse.
I can easily say Gary Taylor changed my life.
At the time I was a writer still paying dues by not being paid for writing. Working pro-bono for anyone who would publish the rantings of a native tree hugger long on passion, and short on punctuation. I had found a soapbox with the San Diego Earth Times where I was billed as the "resident eco-radical." It was here I caught the notice of Gary Taylor, while he was editing the Beach News. Gary had read a column I had done on ocean pollution and called the paper for the reprint rights. Delighted I said yes.
The third time Gary asked to run of my columns, I suggested the Beach News bring me on as a regular columnist. Shortly there after I received my first paycheck as a professional writer, having been with The Coast News, it's new name, ever since. It was under Gary's guidance my rantings became more focused and less reactionary, something for which I will always be grateful. Gary was also instrumental in my decision to write for the Surf City Times, as his working with the paper was a condition of my own participation.
While writing for Gary I became a fan of the Surf Writer. Learning at the feet of a master wordsmith included reading his weekly musings on surfing and surf culture. The fact I had never surfed a day in my life was of no importance. Gary had the gift of familiarity. Completely subversive, his column was about more than surfing- it was about life in Southern California from a native perspective. Waxing words about waxing boards would subtly serve as an analogy for a deeper sociological consideration. Gary was a pro, and his columns on overpopulation, classic.
As I made my way down my hall of memories, the reflection most present was how Gary Taylor was not only a friend and editor, but also a friendly mentor with more patience than a free clinic. In my book Gary Taylor will always be the nice guy willing to give an angry tree-hugger a place to vent and the opportunity of a lifetime. He will also always be the quiet dude with a gleam in his eye. Ask anyone and they will tell you GT got the joke.
Never one for loud displays, that's my forte, it is apropos that Gary would ride silently off into the sunset, always to be remembered as a man in his prime taking life head on. A role model to several generations of surfers and writers, and readers lucky enough to see through Gary's words a slice of life never to be savored in the same way, his influence helped define itself.
No goodbyes were needed as Gary Taylor, in word and memory will always be apart of Encinitas history. And to be honest I don't think even death can keep his spirit from gracing Swami's with his gentle presence.
The surf writer lives on.