Surfer and environmentalist Kona Johnson grew up on the North Shore alongside John, Nathan, and Ivan Florence. He comes from great stock—the Johnsons are some of the world’s finest watermen. We’ve been riveted by his excellent Instagram feed: @konaj_. We asked him how he’s getting through quarantine. He wrote back the following—
My ‘get through quarantine’ comes with a caveat because I find myself in the fortunate position to continue to have work available through an environmental non-profit as well as to be in a tropical climate with opened space to safely vacate. With that said, to stay sane during quarantine I’ve attempted to do more of the things that help me stay sane during normal times (which feels like a feat in itself considering how insane our normal is: economic instability for so many in parallel to an indifference to a trajectory towards environmental catastrophe on both temperature and soil fronts, plastics in the third world etc. by so many of the powerful in our species).
To stay sane I eat whole foods—mostly plants—and less. I meditate. I exercise daily outdoors through surfing or running, aim for eight hours of sleep most nights, read, and create. I do my best to connect with family and friends through or between these activities.
As with life before quarantine, I haven’t been perfectly disciplined. This shouldn’t have to be written out as no one is, but I find my internal dialogue often expecting perfection. Part of remaining sane has been accepting that it’s okay to have moments of sadness about all that is going on. That it’s okay to feel anxiety about what may come for vulnerable neighbors, friends and family. That it’s okay if I don’t achieve things the great wisdom teachers, scientists and artists talk about achieving during periods of slowing down, silence, and solitude. That it’s okay to accept whatever step on the road to getting back to what is essential for you, presents itself—regardless of however mundane or difficult. If only there were a simple formula for doing that. I try my best through lively contrarianism, journaling, meditation, and spending as much time as possible immersed in nature. The nature element lately coming in the form of a friend’s farm.
As a surfer who loves to be on the edge, it’s curious to feel so deeply satisfied with daily tending to the process of seeds going from a spec in your hand to bulbous, impossibly red radishes in the ground. To taste those former specs just two weeks later as slices of zest in your evening salad.
On that note, I’m inspired by projects like these that peel the layers back and hopefully create reflection and connection. I’m inspired by social interactions that have deepened, by one friend in particular who has written me a string of poems about their experience half way around the world in New Zealand. I’m inspired by hearing more conversation about the fragility of systems that incentivize short-term thinking. I’m inspired by the boom in demand for local agriculture here on Oahu, which, for an online marketplace that allows the consumer to buy direct from the farmer island-wide called Farmlink Hawaii, has risen over 2,500 percent since mid March. I’m inspired by all of the people stepping up to help their communities, by groups here on Oahu like Chef Hui, a chef run team working around the clock to coordinate pickups of extra food from restaurants and farms around the island to drop it off to those who need it most.
I’m inspired by art, lately prose that attempts to grasp and convey the power and beauty of uncertainty, of allowing ourselves to live questions rather than demand answers.
Two that come to mind now are: