On a Moroccan balcony, with sweeping views of the black Atlantic and a galaxy of stars, Dillon Perillo sips red wine and tells me his dreams. Or at least last night’s dream. “I dreamt that I was in a contest and I paddled out too early and got penalized. My parents were pissed off and they wanted to drug test me. They said that if I tested positive they’d kick me out of the house.” I wouldn’t be surprised if Dillon thought about this dream all day. Picked it apart. Analyzed its meaning. It’s just how he is. In a world of tasty waves and a cool buzz, the 24-year-old Californian is a thinker. Earlier this trip Dane Reynolds said his brain is like Google. Climate change. Books. Outer space. Everything spinning through his head every waking — and apparently sleeping — moment. Dillon’s the type that reminds us that if ignorance truly is bliss, then it’s better to be smart than joyful.
Why do I like competing? It feels good to beat people, I guess. I think if you’re too competitive it can be really weird, but being a little competitive is good for you. I told myself I should do contests so I don’t become lazy. It makes me want to exercise a bit, stay in the water longer. And it gives me a schedule and routine. I plan my year out with the contests, so I know when I have gaps and that’s when I do the free surf trips.
I think a lot, which I don’t think is bad, in general, to think about stuff. But when you’re surfing it’s bad because you psych yourself out. Especially when you’re competing.
A lot of people want surfing to be more like football. I know I might sound hypocritical because I’m doing contests too, but it’s scary that it’s becoming so corporate. So ESPN. They want so much control and you have to play by their rules, which makes it hard to be yourself.
I like new looks, fresh happenings. New places. New style. I like how people like Kai [Neville], Blake [Myers] and Dane are making movies. Dane makes pretty cool films. I think that the more liberal outlook, when it comes to production and creativity, fits surfing more. Surfing is such an interesting, odd thing to do that we should showcase it in an alternative way. It seems like more of that is happening now and I think it’s really cool.
Every year I’m into something new. I was really into literature for a while, now I’m into space. I learn about it from books and the Internet. I’m addicted to the Internet. It’s so easy to learn things these days.
We know so little about the universe but at the same time we know so much, because the same patterns exist throughout it. Everything’s made from the same elements, so the way life formed on earth can happen anywhere else in the universe in millions of different ways. Carl Sagan always brought up extraterrestrials. Not, like, UFOs and aliens coming in to take over the world — that goes into Sci-Fi — but the fact that all elements can come together in the right conditions on other planets to create life. There’s this thing called The Drake Equation that shows the probability of intelligent life in the Milky Way galaxy, and according to that there could be anywhere from dozens to millions of planets with intelligent beings.
If intelligent life visited earth I think it would probably be disgusted with our world. We’re going through a really weird time, with so much carelessness when it comes to society as whole. But now science is starting to catch up and people are realizing the impacts we are having on our planet, on our climate.
Artists are good at using their imaginations, but I can’t imagine astronomers that study things that are hundreds of light years away. They have just the faintest idea of what it looks like, then they have to wrap their heads around it, write it all down into those equations and say, “It might look like this.” I think that’s really cool.