Book Review: Zane Schweitzer’s Beneath the Surface
Zane Schweitzer’s Beneath the Surface
Athlete autobiographies and memoirs – ghost written or not – are a dime a dozen. Sometimes, most times, they are overblown with ego, peppered with tales of celebrity success and excess if not debauchery, with maybe a little inspiration thrown in.
And very rarely – if ever – does the athlete write the book with the intention of actually starting conversations with his or her readers. Let alone leave the reader wanting to get to know the athlete – as a person – more.
That’s not the experience you’ll have reading Zane Schweitzer’s Beneath the Surface. His 200-page book is humble, insightful, and most of all, authentic. It will leave you with a true sense of who this young waterman is, where he has come from and how he hopes to achieve his future goals.
It will, at the same time, leave you wanting more.
If you’ve ever taken a clinic with Zane, or seen him at a poster signing, or watched him at a competition or with kids, you’ve no doubt been struck by his enthusiasm and spirit of Aloha. He’s never met a stranger. Being Hawaiian-born and growing up on Maui, it is clear that he takes his kuleana or responsibility of representing the state, its culture and its devotion to the ocean seriously. In Beneath the Surface he explains why that is so important to him and how it has shaped his career and some of the decisions he has made as a competitor, and as a sponsored athlete.
Also central to the book, his explanation of his journaling practice, and how he has used it as a way to center himself, pursue his goals on and off the water and become an ambassador for the ocean and the planet’s environment.
He started keeping a journal when he was 12, after his grandmother gave him a blank book and encouraged him to write down the stories of his experiences, when he was well on his way to to becoming a professional athlete. The habit stuck, lucky for us. He opens up the pages of his journals for all of us to read – and what we see are the lessons he’s learned, the “attitude of gratitude” he has cultivated, along with the highs and lows he has experienced, including the recent death of his grandmother. Zane explains that it was her wish that he take the pages of his journals and publish a book about his experiences. He dedicates Beneath the Surface to her.
The book is a compilation of family stories, stories from pro tours, including some that feature another paddle super star, Connor Baxter, and stories of strong family bonds.
In a way, it’s a tale of coming of age, but Zane makes it clear that he’s still learning, and still growing and that he still has so much more to share.
Advocating the Journal
Zane also shares his journaling habits and tactics – he keeps three: a Five Minute Journal, developed by Intelligent Change, another long form journal he refers to as his devotion journal, and his performance/training journal which his his competition log. In it, he keeps copious notes about his race prep, race performance, nutrition and results. He is diligent and disciplined about keeping his journals up to date, and he explains in great detail why that’s important, and the results and benefits he’s seen from the practice.
Interspersed between the stories and the discussion of journal keeping, there are nuggets of wisdom that leave the reader astounded that they were written by a twenty-something year old. As I read it, I kept a pencil in my hand and in the margins, next to countless paragraphs I simply scribbled the word “wow!.”
Here’s an example, from page 122 in the chapter entitled “Dig Deep”:
“The sting of loss can be quickly replaced with gratitude and learning. Sometimes we find strength through reflecting on our days and acknowledge our mistakes or challenging situations with humility rather than arrogantly denying their existence. Every step matters in this life…
…When is a loss really a win? Every single time – if we learn how to learn from our experiences. It’s also a win when we match heartfelt disappointment with gratitude.”
When I grow up, I want to be just like Zane.
And not on the paddleboard, but in my outlook on life.
That’s what diving Beneath the Surface and soaking up the insights he has to offer will do for you. You’ll want to inspire, and innovate, like he does.
And chances are, when you come to the end of the book, you’ll wish there was more – more of his stories and lessons. In the last graph of Beneath the Surface, Zane writes that he hopes his book has provided not only inspiration but an avenue for connection with his readers. I think he’s accomplished that mission … can’t wait to see where that connection leads next!
Beneath the Surface Paperback – November 20, 2017