PLAIN OATMEAL THOUGHTS
THE LESS HABIT, THE MORE LIFE.
A terrible thing began happening to me a few weeks ago. After an extended stint at home surfing the same waves, drinking the same coffee, talking to the same people, driving the same freeway, attending the same meetings and logging onto the same Internet, I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I was way too f–king organized: all caught up on my television shows, reading a book, no unread messages or voicemails. Most people probably thought I was killing it, but in reality I was completely miserable.
My mind was filled with plain oatmeal thoughts. I was on top of things, but those things were stale. Even my surfing felt uninspired and un-fun, and that was the final straw. So in order to throw a wrench into my life, I left work and drove north. I've threatened to do this biweekly throughout my entire editorial tenure, but this time was different. I was really going, afraid that if I didn't it would be my demise.
I just drove out of town with boards and tried to surf. No plans, no itinerary. I ended up somewhere with no cell reception and a payphone that cost $2 a minute to use. I rode a train at one point, ate at new restaurants, met some people, had a beer in the sand (legally). And the fact that I used a payphone made my damn day. The waves were frigid and full of seals, but it wasn't my local spot and it all felt new. For once I wasn't in a parking lot talking about my hangover or debating the tide; I was just out there, because there was no other option and because it looked interesting. No plan for what to do after, no clue how each wave would break. I could have been eaten, but even that would have seemed fresh.
I'm aware this is something we often try to do as surfers, but still it's all too easy to slip into dull routines — even when what we're doing is by its very nature far from dull. Take for instance three of the surfers we spent time with for this issue: Dane Gudauskas, Timmy Reyes and Alex Gray. All three came up in the NSSA farm leagues, talented California boys destined for success in a jersey. But that track can be stifling — yes, even pro surfers get bored — and each of the three eventually found a way to jump the rails in his own way, to shape his path into something unique and spectacular.
Another case is Dane Reynolds, who's revealed to us he'll no longer be regularly competing — a move I greet with a standing ovation because, like a lot of us (myself included — see above), Dane had the presence of mind to notice his life slipping into routine: wandering ASP contest sites waiting for "the call" with the same people, having the same conversations at the same places, again and again. I just returned from a trip with Dane (stay tuned next month for the story), and his insight on bailing the World Tour was, "I just love waking up and not knowing what we're going to do and what's going to happen." I know what he means. I bet you do, too.
If your life feels ordinary, then do something about it. The less habit, the more life. Zag. Be spontaneous. And never be so organized that you're up to date on all episodes of Entourage. —Travis Ferré