• Matthew Allner

The Four Pillars of a Solid Human Foundation


There is a story I want to share in this blog. It is a story well known in the worldwide surfing community, specifically along the West Coast and even more specific in California. But even more so this story is famous to us “soul surfers”. Please note that I used the word “us” in the previous sentence, as I am placing myself among those who surf for the sheer respect and love of the ocean and the soul piercing experience that the love of surfing brings to those who embrace it for what it truly is. Learning to surf waves in California at the age of 23 was the most humbling experience I had ever had as an elite and well-rounded athlete. And humbling doesn’t even describe it. But I became hungry for knowledge, training, and experience and so I threw myself out into the ocean that often times spit me back on the beach with a smile along with a “not today kid” kind of attitude. But I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed my limits and within a few short years found myself surfing the big winter swells of Southern California right along with my friends who were native and long time surfers in California. All of them being “soul surfers” as well.

The story I am about to share is a story within a story, and then more importantly all of the amazing life lessons that can be taught from it. The story became legendary, and then later became a Hollywood film. It is a story about a man by the name of Rick “Frosty” Hesson. A legendary big wave surfer from Santa Cruz, CA, Frosty was best known for surfing Mavericks – a surf break and wave known around the world to big wave surfers as one of the biggest, toughest, and most dangerous to surf. Waves that would tower at heights of 50-60 feet were at the time (back in the 1990s) the measuring stick by which surfers were rated on the scale of big wave surfing. While Frosty was a local legend to Santa Cruz, he became a national and world legend by what he did for a young man by the name of Jay Moriarity. And this is where we dive into “The Four Pillars of a Solid Human Foundation”.

A week ago I assigned my daughter a writing assignment to write for me a persuasive essay, as she is learning about persuasive writing in school right now. The topic I gave her came from one of her favorite movies, Chasing Mavericks. And you guessed it, the movie is about Frosty and his training young Jay Moriarity to surf Mavericks. My daughters assignment was to “persuade” or “convince” the reader as to why the four pillars of a solid human foundation are a good thing for every person to use and live by in their daily lives. Not an easy essay to write for sure, but she did a great job planning (outlining) her talking points, and then delivering her message on paper.

So what are the four pillars of a solid human foundation? The four pillars are the: Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual pillars. So why are these pillars important? Frosty believed these pillars were not only essential to helping a surfer learn how to do the impossible and ride a wave like Mavericks, but more so felt they were essential for a person to be able to live a balanced and accomplished life. The question is, was Frosty right? Or was this just his opinion? In a society like ours today this question would be met with criticism and with debate, but only liberal debate to much degree. It is a very difficult argument to win that accomplishing great tasks can be done with out it, or at least without some very similar form of discipline and structure. So what exactly do each of the four pillars entail, that Frosty believed in them so much? Let’s dive in a little deeper to each of them.

The first pillar, known as the Physical Pillar, consists of all the exercise, the sheer strength and the conditioning, etc. necessary to complete a difficult task. In this pillar, there is physical conditioning that taps into all three of the other pillars as well, as with each passing week of training (if done correctly) a person pushes themselves more into all four pillar realms.

The second pillar, the Mental Pillar, consists of the knowledge one must have about the task and goal at hand. This involves reading, researching, journaling and reflecting, etc. on a topic. It is where we become of student of what it is we are learning about and trying to accomplish.

The third pillar, the Emotional Pillar, involves the emotional preparation necessary for a task that is deemed scary, dangerous, deadly, etc. And this doesn’t have to just be scary in the sense of I’m afraid to die trying to surf a big wave like Mavericks. It can also mean the fear people have dealing with social relationships that are struggling, family issues, etc. This pillar involves a very, very deep understanding of the difference between fear and panic. And it is at this pillar I want to go much deeper but in a future blog, as this pillar goes so deep that it centers itself around the spiritual pillar. But again, in a future blog, so be looking for it.

The fourth and final pillar is the spiritual pillar, and involves the spiritual and religious connection one has towards God and the task at hand. It is a spiritual relationship building effort with God, and the religious/spiritual discernment that comes with this effort. This was the one pillar Frosty admits in the film to struggle with, and you see his struggle play out later in the movie. I also found it interesting that this pillar was never really mentioned much other than when Frosty introduces it to Jay, admits his struggle with the pillar to Jay, and then when the Frosty’s weakness with the pillar plays out. However, it is important to note that Frosty was wise to include the pillar, and not dismiss it as essential to the success of the individual and we see how much Frosty’s struggle with this pillar impacts his life when a single life events challenges him in the spiritual realm.

So the story of Frosty and Jay is a story of leadership, mentorship, and friendship. As Jay sneaks a ride along with Frosty one morning, hoping on the back of Frosty’s van ladder, Jay discovers Mavericks and sees the wave for the first time and watches Frosty ride it. It is at this moment Jay finds his purpose in life – to ride Mavericks – and asks Frosty to train him to ride it. While Frosty initially doesn’t want to help Jay, Frosty’s wife helps put the opportunity in perspective helping Frosty to see that Jay needs his mentorship and even more his friendship as a neighbor. So Frosty makes an agreement, and actually a formal arrangement, with Jay as to the terms of the training. This puts Frosty completely in charge and in control and sets the stage for his training methodology known as “The Four Pillars of a Solid Human Foundation”. And so the story goes. . .

I don’t want to tell you more because I want you to rent or buy the movie and watch it yourself. It is a great movie where Gerard Butler plays the role of mentor Frosty Hesson. And it is a great family movie to watch. Very appropriate with the language and sexual undertones, and just a great story about dealing with bullies, fluctuating loyalties with friends, being turned down in relationships of the opposite sex, and battling personal/family struggles in life. Just an all-around great movie for families and young kids.

In my next blog, I will dive deeper into the third of Frosty’s pillar, The Emotional Pillar. But for now here are a few good websites to check out to learn more about the true story of Chasing Mavericks.

Chasing Mavericks True Story - Real Jay Moriarity, Frosty Hesson (historyvshollywood.com)

Chasing Mavericks (2012) - IMDb

Jay Moriarity - Wikipedia


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