Connection (Jim Bohnsack and Kelly Slater)

As time has gone by this summer, I’ve had this great sense that most moments seem to not matter. Rituals can drown out our essential purpose, soundproofing the screams of our spirit. But I’ve also had another realization recently, some moments…are special. And I mean really special. They make all of the seemingly mundane times be seen in color instead of black and white. These moments define the purpose that we have in life.

A few weeks ago,  I was watching a documentary called the “Momentum Generation,” a surf movie with names like Kelly Slater, Rob Machado, and Shane Dorian (some of the greatest surfers of all time). After the movie, I told my dad about watching it and casually mentioned the name Kelly Slater. I could tell my dad was thinking about where he had heard the name “Kelly Slater.” Finally he whipped out his phone and began typing. I asked, “What are you doing?” and he told me, “I think my friend Jim Bohnsack, has a story about meeting Kelly…I’m just not sure if I can remember it.” I had heard the name Jim Bohnsack recently because he was one of my Dad’s closest friends growing up, and he had just been diagnosed with cancer. A few minutes later, we got a text from Jim. In that text, was one of the best stories I’ve ever heard.

Around the year 2001, Jim went to Florida with his wife Denise. While enjoying a night at a restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Jim and his wife befriended a woman on the dance floor. It turned out that she was the mother of the all time great surfer, Kelly Slater. As the night went along, Kelly’s mom voiced disappointment saying, “Kelly never really calls me anymore.” Jim joked that he would give Kelly the word when he went to California in 2 days, so Kelly’s mom gave him a picture of them together. Jim and his wife left that night and 2 days later, Jim was in California. While driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, Jim was enamored with the massive waves and pulled over to get a closer look at the swells. While walking toward the ocean, he passed by a group of surfers. “How are the waves?” Jim asked. “Ask the greater surfer of all time, he just walked right past you.” one of them said. “Kelly?!” Jim yelled. By a work of God, Kelly Slater walked toward Jim Bohnsack that morning and shook his hand. Jim started, “Hey man, this is going to be super weird, but two nights ago I was with your mom at Mulligans. She said she wished you called her more.” Jim gave Kelly the picture and he stared at it for a minute and then said, “You know, I guess I get pretty busy sometimes. I probably do need to call more.” Then Kelly gave the picture back…and Jim took it (he doesn’t know why)! Jim said that Kelly was unbelievably kind to him and after a while, Kelly and his friends changed out of their wetsuits…and were gone. Every since Jim told my dad that story, their friendship has come alive again. Jim calls my dad and my dad calls Jim. They share stories and laughs because at the end of it all, they were meant to be friends.

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Max Yelken

A young man looking for a sustainable life of adventure in a changing world.

3 thoughts on “Connection (Jim Bohnsack and Kelly Slater)

  1. Max, this is Jim Bohnsack ..your writing is very encouraging! I am sitting at Grills with your mom and dad where I met Kelly’s mom on the back deck watching boats go by.
    Kellys mom handed me a picture of her and her three boys to give to Kelly. I showed Kelly the picture that day and he stared at it a long time and handed it back to me. I’m not sure why?!?!! I still feel bad I didn’t make him keep it. Max I can’t wait to meet you! I enjoy your blog! Jim

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful site. A lot of useful info here. I am sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious.
    And of course, thank you to your effort!


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