Lambert Lo was living the dream life in Hawaii. When not stalking giant swells himself, he was teaching billionaires and celebrities, like Steve Jobs and Bill Murray, how to surf. That got old, however, so he moved back to his home state of California and started Misfits Ocean Academy, which teaches those who are “experiencing challenging circumstances or situations” how to surf.
His current class is comprised of a refugee from North Korea, a war veteran battling alcoholism and a 9-year-old who is visually impaired.
The salt water heals and restores, according to the 42-year-old.
“Once you’re in the water, the water washes everything away,” Lo told The Orange County Register in 2016 just before heading to North Korea with the hopes of bringing the sport to the country so it could serve as a “bridge between nations.”
Following many years in Hawaii, Lo moved back to Sana Ana, Calif. and started a non-profit called The MIX Academy (known now as just “The MIX.”).
The MIX offers individuals and families in southern California, who live in overcrowded and dangerous neighborhoods, a place to go at night where they can take English classes, eat, relax and connect with one another all at no cost.
Misfits Ocean Academy is a branch of The MIX close to Lo’s heart because he believes the sport is a great metaphor for life.
“Surfing, like life, is full of ups and downs,” he told Great Big Story. “There’s waves that are coming, and you can’t stop that from coming. Pain’s gonna come. What you can control is yourself and how you’re gonna react.”
The boy in the video is Nathan Nipp, 9, an extreme athlete who was born with an eye disease that left him blind. When Lo met Nathan at a skateboarding class at The MIX, he offered him the chance to get out on the water. Let’s just say that Nathan got the hang of it quickly, and even taught Lo something along the way.
“When you’re surfing, we’re usually looking for waves. He was listening for waves,” Lo told The Orange Country Register. “He could tell what waves were coming and when,” Lo said. “He knew which waves he wanted to take. His sense of direction; he was like half dolphin.”
Lo’s onto something. His method of teaching people how to paddle it out when in doubt extends far beyond the water, and into the most intense areas of life. And, that’s a “wave” no one can turn down.