When Colin Chandler surfed the waves of Lennox Heads in his youthful years, dolphins would incessantly seem alongside him.
It occurred so usually, he earned the nickname ‘Colphin’ amongst his mates.
The moniker, merging man with marine mammal, could not be extra apt for the surfer/painter who sees the ocean as an extension of himself.
“Once I’m portray waves — I am listening to the ocean,” Colin mentioned.
“I am listening to the lap of the water beneath my surfboard. I am feeling that carry because the swell comes up. I am seeing the fractured gentle because the sundown comes — that golden glow via the center of the wave.”
Colin began portray as a toddler, and browsing as a teen.
All sorts of energetic adventures adopted.
From mountain biking and climbing in distant areas to free climbing — they’ve all accompanied Colin via a world profession in tech start-ups and life as a husband, father and pal.
The lure of the ocean at all times loomed the most important although, and through the years, he is surfed the waves of Australia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Maldives and the US.
Now on the age of 66, dwelling at idyllic Moffat Seaside on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the ocean has turn out to be a refuge, and Colin’s saviour.
Dwelling with ‘a crafty thief’
In 2015, he was recognized with main progressive a number of sclerosis (MS) — a degenerative nerve illness that is steadily taking away Colin’s potential to maneuver.
“MS is sort of a crafty thief. It steals the issues which might be very valuable and takes them away and places them someplace the place you possibly can now not attain them,” he mentioned.
“This stuff which might be essential to you and in some ways outline you — they slowly disappear and evaporate.
“It is not one thing which you could modify to or resolve in a single day.”
He is had to surrender his bike, his mountain bike, and now will get round residence on a motorized scooter.
He tries to shrug off the ache as a muscle spasm shoots down his again, and incessantly makes use of his palms to maneuver his legs into extra snug positions.
Saved by the ocean’s ‘vibrant pulse of life’
In Colin’s artwork studio, amid the jars of paintbrushes and bottles of ink (full with 35 totally different hues of blue), a spiderman figurine with moveable joints is perched on a shelf.
Its arms are outstretched in an aggressive gesture, with the center fingers on every hand pointed up.
“I do this after I’m having a foul day,” Col defined.
“I’ve spent my life being blessed with with the ability to go and do quite a lot of issues.
“Generally my palms begin shaking a lot that it places a complete new texture within the wave that wasn’t meant to be there. These issues frustrate me.
“The factor that saves me each time I really feel myself spiraling a little bit, is that vibrant pulse of life that comes from the ocean.
“I am going to usually be out in my studio pottering away and the MS shall be driving me quietly bonkers and I am going to get into the wheelchair and go all the way down to the ocean and simply look — even when I am unable to get into it.”
Getting again into the water
Colin remains to be capable of surf mendacity down when somebody helps him.
That somebody is usually James ‘Rundy’ Ball.
“I’ve recognized Col for about two years. I began off as a assist employee and we have turn out to be very shut associates,” Rundy mentioned.
“I began surf teaching for all skills. That was one of many issues that Col needed to convey again into his life — getting again into the water.”
“He is a powerful paddler however a part of the problem for Col is getting from the automotive park to the water.
“At this time he caught a wave for the primary time in eight months — and that is going to stick with him for a very long time and for myself as properly.
“I am not allowed to make use of the phrase inspirational as a result of subsequent time we exit browsing collectively he’ll in all probability push me underneath the water, so I am going to simply say that he is very decided.”
As of late, Col will get pleasure from watching different surfers experience the waves, though it wasn’t at all times the case.
“I will be frank and say there was a interval when each time I noticed guys on the market getting excellent glassy waves and barrels, I would be grinding my tooth and growling,” he mentioned.
“The truth that I can come residence and paint — and this sounds vaguely nuts however it’s true — as I am portray away, I am within the wave.
“These stunning excellent shapes that saved popping up out of the ocean simply completely absorbed me.
“It in all probability explains why I used to be by no means a champion surfer, as a result of I used to be so busy trying on the inside the waves.
“Each wave is totally different. Each form is totally different. Each coloration is totally different.”
Patrons of his paintings appear to sense his oneness with the ocean too.
Maybe that is why a digital picture of one among Colin’s work was chosen by the legendary pop band the Seaside Boys as a backdrop for his or her world tour in 2014.
“The sensation of seeing your artwork behind a well-known band like that — is weird. It is surreal,” he mentioned.
Driving life’s highs and lows collectively
Colin’s spouse Cheryl shares his ardour for the ocean.
“Simply inhaling that salt air — simply being close to the ocean and the fowl life — it is very, very soothing,” she mentioned.
Her serenity counters his intrepidness.
The yoga trainer met her surfer husband-to-be on the Woombye pub in 1986.
She was dancing by herself when Colin’s mate mentioned to him, “There’s the lady you are going to marry.”
Simply earlier than the marriage, Cheryl’s mom instructed her, “Life won’t ever be boring!”
And she or he was proper.
Colin and Cheryl’s life collectively is a partnership. They experience each excessive and confront each hurdle hand in hand.
“I believe simply having resilience from being a pair for therefore lengthy and at all times having that cup of tea and sitting down and saying, properly, how are we going to get round this one? How are we going to climb this mountain?” Cheryl mentioned.
Once they think about the well being struggles Colin has confronted in latest occasions, every turns into emotional once they communicate of the opposite.
“Cheryl has been with me each step of the way in which,” Colin mentioned, holding again tears.
“She has actually made dwelling with a incapacity much more joyous.
“You recognize the phrase ‘carer’ is thrown round a lot, however I do not suppose it is actually understood that the carer is in additional of a combat than the individual with the situation usually.
“It’s kind of like — there is a boxer combating within the ring and he would not discover what’s occurring as a result of his adrenaline goes. However for his household trying on — it is a lot more durable for them.”
Cheryl’s lip quivers as she thinks about what lies forward.
“One of many hardest issues anybody is confronted with is watching somebody that you simply love, seeing them once they’re having fun with their life and giving it every thing they have, after which hastily seeing a few of these issues taken from them, she mentioned.
“It is all about high quality of life now and saying sure to issues that actually matter and having as a lot household time as potential.
“When you’re confronted with these crises, it makes you suppose, ‘Properly what have I received?’ If it is enjoying guitar or bowling, drill down into it. Benefit from any little reward that you’ve got,” she mentioned.
Grabbing maintain of the current
When he was first recognized, Colin created a spreadsheet to find out what he may and could not do, and what he nonetheless needed to attain.
In addition to prioritise household and associates, in recent times he is climbed mountain tracks to lift cash for individuals with MS and held artwork exhibitions to spotlight the influence of air pollution and local weather change on the world’s oceans.
“I’ve had the nice pleasure of with the ability to leap round within the ocean for the perfect a part of my life and I need to have the ability to give again,” he mentioned.
Whereas they will at all times function waves, Colin’s paintings has advanced over time.
“The MS had made him keep nonetheless quite a lot of the time now. He was very energetic earlier than and that stillness has led to an unbelievable quantity of energy and has given him the flexibility to try to focus in on his portray and produce it out extra ,” she mentioned.
“There was a lot of gentle and coloration originally — element upon element — and now I believe he is going a bit extra moody, a bit extra daring.”
Whereas it is exhausting to know what the longer term could maintain, Colin is decided to seize the current as a lot as he can.
“The best way you see me at this time is not going to be the way in which you see me in two years or 5 years or 10 years,” he mentioned.
“I do not get fearful of the longer term. I get fearful of being bored. I get fearful of being ineffective.”
“My hope for the longer term is a life with objective.”