John Heath “Doc” Ball (1908-2001)
A dentist who began to passionately pursue his surfing career “after he retired”.
Why has the word “retirement” become so offensive? Because is it associated with illnesses, medications, lack of activity and mobility, leading rapidly to the end of life. See what I mean? That’s what happens when you work so hard all your life to earn the mighty buck, but never think of a plan for the many years you’ll still live after that. If you believe that life stops after you finish work, then, why stop working?
John Heath Ball, known as “Doc” among his many friends in the surfing community, was alert, exhilarated and in excellent shape when he began skateboarding sometime in his mid 80’s while still lovingly surfing and photographing as he did for decades. He claimed he skateboarded “…to keep young”. When he was asked about surfing at age 93, the senior quoted: “It is still my favorite sport and the best way to combat stress”. In his late 20’s Doc also began to photograph superb quality shots of the Californian waves becoming a great influence on a new generation of surf photography . He was also a surf club organizer and the founder of the Palos Verdes Surfing Club in California.
This man kept so busy until his passing at 93, that I don’t believe he ever even thought he was getting old. His story makes one feel so ridiculous and even embarrassed of the many times we talk so derogatorily about “getting old” and “retirement”.
Now, let’s re-think that word again, shall we?