Humans have done some f’ed up things in the name of research. Dian Fossey took up residence with gorillas in the Congo for over a decade, Henry Thoreau camped alone on a pond in the Massachusetts wilderness for two years, and Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month. No one said to them, “Hey, great idea, I’ll join you!” People thought they were idiots.
Welcome to my world.
What’s funny is that nobody would have noticed I wasn’t surfing without this blog, which I hadn’t planned on writing. I was set to document the journey, but my mission was to be a solitary one until two people whose opinions I value convinced me to take it public.
The reactions I’ve received since I started blogging have run the gamut. A few people get it, some try to talk me out of it, and others get pissed off at me.
World tour surfer Yadin Nicol suggested that I must me starving for attention. An interesting prospect, but never have I been one of those “Hey, look at me” folks. Quite the opposite. My mom loves to bring up my favorite saying as a toddler, which was, “Don’t yook at me!”
Don’t take this personally – I don’t like people. Even as a pro surfer, I avoided crowds and photographers at all costs. I’m a raging introvert. I’ll choose a book over a party any day. And if I’m at a party and see an intriguing book, I’ll sit down and start reading.
Another complaint was this: “You are a surfer. Denying that is not only futile but counterproductive.”
Well, I never really considered myself a surfer. I’m just a guy who happens to like surfing. Surfers were guys who didn’t go to college, didn’t read anything but surf mags, and tended to get stoned and put together sentences such as, “Dude, like, fuck, dude.” I felt like a loser just typing that.
Others I know have asked how my decision to not surf will affect the surf school I’ve operated since 1997. It won’t. If I surf at surf camp, I’m not teaching. I hold camps to instruct others how to surf, not so I can go surfing. Not to mention, I have a team of over a dozen wonderful people whom I’ve taught to handle the surfing instruction. I stand around and watch, so like Big Wednesday’s Bear, “I’m just a garbage man.”
Which brings us to my question. Since the beginning of time humans have asked, “What would happen if…” (On second thought, they couldn’t speak early on, so they didn’t say it as much as grunt it.) I’ve posed the query, “What would happen if an avid, able, addicted, lifelong surfer suddenly quit for a year?” As far as I know we still don’t know the answer.
In addition to calling me a fame seeker, Nicol wrote that my quest was “one of the dumbest things I’ve heard of.” On that count, he might be right. These types of experiments don’t always work out. The greatest basketball player in history got a hankering for baseball and traded NBA championships for AAA whiffs. Closer to home, Occy bailed on the world tour in ’88 to bang nails back in Australia before waking up two weeks later with a blistered hammer hand and realizing that pro surfing was a slightly better career path.
The road I’m on is more than likely a descent into madness, but there’s a possibility that it’s a journey out of it. Either way, I’m interested in finding out.