A man with a message: Richard Roshon’s life of adventure and service
Twenty-five thousand of us live in West Maui between the Pali and Lipoa Point.
Ancestral Hawaiian descendants, plantation-era families, first-generation arrivals. Each of us has our own story of how we got here, and each of us has a certain role we play on this island (West Maui) within in island (Maui) in our most isolated archipelago.
Amidst our 25,000 strong tribe exist sagacious elders who emanate character and widsom – people who are so in tune with themselves and the water world around us that they evolved to a higher plane.
One of these wise sages is Richard Roshon. It is worth a brief moment of your day to know of this man and his message.
Richard was born in the same year that World War II ended, 1945. As a 17-year-old, he served three deployments in Vietnam, but it was his Rest and Relaxation (R&R) in Pearl Harbor that shifted his life’s mission.
Upon receiving his honorable discharge from the Navy, he embarked on the international surf adventure trail, exploring coastlines throughout the world with a board, a backpack and a sleeping bag.
The ship of Richard’s life docked at its home port in Maui in the 1970s, when he helped open Kimo’s, commuted to work by kayak between Lahaina to Kapalua, and sharpened his vocation as an ocean advocate and steward through teaching and lectures.
Making his home in the ‘Au’au Channel, the most protected channel from wind, waves and currents in all the Hawaiian Islands, and perhaps in the entire Pacific Ocean, Richard prefers life out at sea, in a kayak, alone with nature. Over the decades, he has spent countless nights on the water in his kayak, loaded up to 150 pounds with water, food and camping gear; crossed channels in the star-crossed darkness to avoid sun and wind; congregated with whales, spinner dolphins and monk seals; and connected with himself, nature and silence in ways many of us can only dream of.
On a recent evening at the Marriott Ocean Club in Ka’anapali, Richard, now a septuagenarian with more of his life behind him than in front, reminisced about a long life well-lived. But he couldn’t help but portray a sadness, a darkness and a despair about the transformation he has seen over time. As he moved between sharp insights, deep laughter and tears, pacing the stage in a white linen shirt, sporting a full beard worthy of Gandalf the Grey, Roshon’s urgent passion vibrated through the room. Here is the man in his own words:
“The ocean is dying. What intelligent species purposefully pollutes our own world? We have to live together. This planet is as fragile as a glass ball. Everything is connected. Whether you like it or not, we’re in this whole thing together.”
“In the last 30 years, over half the world’s reefs have died. The Great Barrier Reef: one-third is dead. Reefs provide half the marine species with an area to live. By 2050, it’s expected that 90 percent of the world’s reefs will be dead.”
“Arctic Ice is shrinking by 12 percent every decade. If Arctic ice alone melts, the seas will rise 180 feet. Florida, four feet above sea level, is the most populated spot in the country.”
“One-thousand miles out to sea: Pure plastic.”
“I can’t take it any longer. I’ve never seen what’s happening lately. Nobody’s thinking. I’m afraid to go on the beach, because you’re going to see things you don’t want to see. It keeps me up at night.”
“All life is of great value.”
“Nature provides something no doctor or medication can give: peace, silence, compassion, stillness and calmness within.”
“What’s wrong with people? There’s a rainbow. Everyone’s looking into their phones? So out of touch. Technology is separating mankind from each breath of life. These companies are getting us addicted. How do we break away from that?”
“Cloth bags. It’s time to start thinking. It’s something that should be automatic.”
“The most important reason to save this planet is because it’s the only planet with… chocolate.”
At the end of his presentation, the Marriott Ocean Club of Maui gifted Richard’s book to all attendees, and Richard roamed through the crowd graciously greeting his guests. Still, he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted more people to hear his message, to live deliberately, to clean up, help out, and take care.
If you’re on the beach some evening and you see a strong, striking, bearded gentlemen slipping into the ocean for an evening swim or kayak, that might just be Richard Roshon, ocean defender and advocate for a better world.
Find him at www.hawaiiwhalesrus.com. Find me with comments, questions or anything else at firstname.lastname@example.org.