FREE THE FUNK FLURO SURF - Varkala, India :: My journey to get here. By Dave Whitehead.


Dave Whitehead contacted us a few weeks ago about holding a Free the Funk Fluro Surf in Varkala, India. Here is the legends inspirational story about his journey to get there... I was introduced to One Wave through a friend, Richie Norton who had recently moved to Australia. He was frequently posting pics of him and others dressed in all types of fluro attire surfing together, alongside hashtags such as #onewaveisallittakes #itsoknottobeok #freethefunk #ruok #flurofriday and a link to a website. One day, I suppose like any other, I was sat at my desk at work taking a cheeky peak at my Facebook when one of these posts popped up once again. I asked myself what was this 'onewaveisallittakes' all about ? and decided to investigate further. I know now looking back there were several reason why that day I choose to click on that link….

I had been struggling for a long time ; with what I wasn't sure , I just wasn't happy. In my situation there was not one moment that made me feel this way but it was more a gradual build up of stress, anxieties, frustrations of life... the list goes on. I had always been someone that didn't like to talk about my problems, nothing real at any case. I was constantly telling myself to "toughen up" or "man up". How can I have a problem ? My parents are the most caring people on the planet but I didn't want to speak to them as I didn't want to worry them ... I didn't want to speak to my friends, although great people., as I was worried about what they might think. In fact this made me feel worse and more and more unhappy. I didn't recognise this part of me, who I was, I felt I had lost apart of myself and I felt my anxiety was holding me back at work , socially and in life.

It got so bad , I couldn’t stand it anymore. Exhausted from how it was making me feel I decided I needed help. Of course, I didn't want anyone to know, but I knew I needed to tell someone about this... someone who wasn't related to me , who wouldn’t judge me, someone that didn’t know me.. someone who could try and fix me.

I searched the internet for a local therapist, close to my office where I could go, emailed and booked myself in. It took me 3 attempts, walking from the office to the main doors of the building until I actually went inside. It was awkward at first, I was sat down, I was poured a glass of water and then she asked me.. so what would you like to talk about ? I replied.... Im unhappy , and I don't know why. After that I can't really recall what was said.. I spoke for an hour non stop without a breath. It all just came pouring out. Over the next few sessions we spoke of work, family, friends, childhoods, hobbies, interests, life, relationships, everything and anything. I felt a weight off my chest, I felt I could breathe again, I felt I had a voice and I began to take control of my own thoughts which for a long time had taken control over me. It was an intense release of all the things, big and small, I had been bottling up for all those years all because I was too afraid to talk about how I was really feeling and this inward emotion of 'anx'; I was in a big funk.

Im not sure when it had crept into my life but it had in a big way. I came understand that I was suffering from a mental health issue which evidently I had been carrying around with me for longer than I really knew. As we began to discuss this more through my therapy I gained a greater understanding of this emotion and began to identify with why I felt the way I did. As I unraveled myself, it became more apparent how unsatisfied I was with my life and the choices I was making every day ...I knew I needed to make a change but I still didn't know what. At first I started small. I started back in the gym and decided to give yoga a go. All of which helped considerably but yet there was still something missing.

Brining me to that point where I subconsciously clicked on the link without a second thought .... and the first thing I saw was a huge message in the middle of ocean, people dressed in Fluro forming the words ... R U OK ?? With the tag line... ' Its ok not to be ok ! “. I saw a community of people promoting the importance of talking to one another, asking that all important question to people like myself that were going through similar problems. As I read on about what one wave was all about, Grants and various other peoples stories immediately gave me hope. I loved how they defined my current state of mind as being in a FUNK and how through a recipe of salt water, surf and good mates I could begin to rebuild myself. I remember thinking to myself… a FUNK.... now that seemed less scary.. that seemed less permanent , thats something I could do something about. I immediately messaged my friend, Richie, and said how inspired I was by the part he was playing in this and how important that message was, and to whom it was reaching out too. Little did I know then that I would two weeks later, whilst sitting in traffic in London, decide to fly half way across the world to learn how to surf , continue my yoga and more importantly focus on myself. A trip that would take me to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Sri Lanka and India. I packed my bags, said my goodbyes to family and friends, and set off with my partner in life, chasing the sun and surf. Exploring new places, cultures and meeting some truly wonderful people along the way. I was feeling truly blessed that I decided to take back control of my life and that I was on the road to recovering one wave at a time.

It wasn't until 2 months into my trip I received the news that a friend of ours had chosen to end his life. There are no words here…

After sometime, I began to reflect, looking back to how I felt those few months ago, the journey I had come on and to where I am today. So I decided to contact One Wave and tell them my story , hoping to speak to those sufferers, telling them that its ok not to be ok... and they too can be a survivor. Grant, kindly responded to my email and alongside my ever encouraging girlfriend and support from my colleagues at Soul & Surf , spurred me on to host my first One Wave : FREE THE FUNK fluro surf / yoga on the beach of Varkala in India. The event involved the hosting of a movie clip of the onewaveisallittakes followed by a talk by myself; standing in front of 30 people I barely knew, telling them of my journey. Everyone got involved by dressing up in floral garlands and Indian Holi fluro paint, and then we all took part in a fluro yoga warm up and surf followed by a traditional Keralan/ one wave styled lunch for all the guests and staff. The first of many I hope at Soul & Surf, and certainly not the last from me. Cast your eyes below and see for yourself.

I must again thank those who don’t even know it but have supported me along the way; to One Wave for what they are doing; to Richie Norton for introducing me to One Wave and the work he continues to do ; to my family and to Amy, my love for always being there.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story… and heres to staying funk free.


THANK YOU for sharing your inspirational story Dave you absolute legend. Big love from all of the OneWave Community. Lets surf soon Yew!