"For me, you really feel the difference when you get injured or something and you're out of the water for a few months or more. You just fall into this weird normalcy where you just feel…numb," says Dane Gudauskas, pro surfer. "For me, surfing is my creative outlet, so without it, I'm so much less inspired. Even just watching a surf video for me — from the way the cinematographer captures the sea to what the surfers are doing, how they dress, their style in the water — life is so much more illustrative with surfing. Those creative endorphins die off for me outside of the water too long and I lose purpose and feel a little bit…flat. Every single day, surfing helps me find inspiration in life. So I guess I surf instead of being normal."
This seems to be a fairly common sentiment among surfers. The numbing effect of a normal life, of an office cubicle, of life on land for too long. Dane could've lived a normal life, but instead, continually chooses to feel something.
"You can get complacent and in a routine without surfing. And I think as surfers we have the ability to be freaky weirdos, to be different, and it's still celebrated. Surfing breaks the mold in the best way possible."
But is this obsession a discipline — with its up-before-dawns and Zen-like patience — or pure neurosis?
"When I lived up in Santa Barbara, after five days of no waves, I'd just be sitting around sulking and my wife would be going, 'What's your problem?' says Yadin Nicol, pro surfer. "I wouldn't even realize how much not being in the water affected me, until my wife called me out on it. Like, I'm an absolute asshole when I'm away from the water," he laughs. "But ever since I moved from there down to San Clemente where you can surf a bit more in the summer, I was that much happier. I don't even need to be in the water every day, but if I'm in a place where I don't even have the opportunity to go surf, then I start freaking out."
Certainly, when I haven't surfed lately, I'm a terrible person.
"As far as missing anything to go surfing instead…I guess I nearly missed my daughter's birth. There was a surf trip and I'd booked everything and then the morning of, my wife's water breaks and it was like, oh shit. So, that was close, but I've pretty much missed every anniversary. But she doesn't really care about that kind of stuff. [laughs] If I'm on a trip for surfing, then she gets that I'm making money for the family. It's my job. If it was a golf trip, it'd be a different story."
"Does surfing make me a better dad? I'd say so. Probably makes me better at everything."
Yadin could've been a shitty father…but he surfed instead.
*Part 2 of 5 from the "I Surfed Instead" cover feature essay
Read Part 1 here