Joel Parkinson may have won the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing and taken the outright lead in this year's Triple Crown, but Dusty Payne is the one who is stoked.
By placing second in his quarter final, Dusty officially qualified for the 2010 World Tour. "I don't even know how to describe how I feel." Dusty said after the heat adding, "I'm just stoked."
Stoked? That's it? The most significant accomplishment of his young career and he's not elated, ecstatic, overjoyed, delighted, or even thrilled. No, he's just stoked.
But I don't blame Dusty for underplaying his accomplishment. I blame all surfers who, through a combination of conditioning and apathy, have accepted the word "stoked" to blanket the complete spectrum of positive emotions that one might feel. I saw Dusty at the golf course on Saturday, and he was stoked to be golfing. I would venture to guess that he was also stoked when he arrived at Sunset to see clean lines pouring through the line-up. Then he squeaked through a tough quarterfinal heat to qualify for the highest level of competitive professional surfing, a proverbial watershed in his fledgling career: a life-changing moment. And yes, he was stoked with that too.
And therein lies the problem. The word stoked is so universally applied that it circumvents the need to articulate feelings, or even think for that matter. It places the same significance on winning a world title as it does finding $10 in your pocket.
It makes surf culture bland. In fact, 4% of this blog post is the actual word "stoked."
So what do we do to curb the proliferation of this mundane word? How do we temper its use before it completely numbs our culture? It's a topic that keeps me up at night.
Thankfully I have really good sleeping pills and for that, I'm stoked.