There are a million things you can do with your life but one thing you’d rather do than all of them. Are we narrow-minded, bipolar maniacs, or just that hopelessly devoted?

Photo: John Respondek

Craig Anderson: Instead of The To-Do List

"I think as surfers, we miss everything if the waves are gonna be good. Pretty much if I’m meant to do anything, whether that’s phoning a friend, answering an email, mowing the lawn at home…if the waves are good, I’m gonna miss all that. [laughs] I forget to do the most important things all the time because I can’t be bothered. And then everyone else is picking up the loose ends. You can feel kind of immature. Even growing up, when I was going to school, you’re meant to do homework and assignments and I ended up surfing instead and getting C-minuses, and then the parents are bummed out because I’m chasing some weird dream of surfing everyday. They don’t think it’s gonna work out and then somehow it works out. I dunno, I think anyone that’s devoted to surfing will pretty much miss anything if their favorite wave’s gonna be good. It’s just such an addiction."

Photo: Corey Wilson

If I had a nickel for every time a girlfriend called me selfish…I’m positive I’d spend it on a trip to Bali.

That, or save the change and just get barreled at home instead. Mick Fanning, banking in Straddie.

Photo: Laurent Pujol

Charly Martin: …Instead of the girlfriend

"My girlfriend broke up with me right after this session. I was meant to be spending time with her back in Guadeloupe, but the surf was pumping in France — like as good as I’ve ever seen it — and I stayed in the water for two days straight [laughs]. Eight hours in a wetsuit for two days in a row. It was crazy. Just me, Marc Lacomare and Joan Duru. By the end of the second day I wanted the wind to go onshore so I could just go in, but it stayed glassy. That was my last wave of the swell — I was exhausted and dehydrated but after that one I finally went in. I spoke with my girlfriend that evening and we just realized that my lifestyle was too much for us to maintain a relationship. But I’m still glad I surfed instead [laughs]."

Photo: Scotty Hammonds

Mikey Wright and a full rotation we all wish we could do “instead”. Western Australia.

Photo: Jeff Davis

Dylan Graves: …Instead of Grandma’s 90th Birthday

"Well, the most recent thing, and I’m not very proud of it at all, was when my grandmother just turned 90 and my whole family and I were supposed to fly out from Puerto Rico to visit her for it. At the same time, my girlfriend got sick, which also coincided with a swell in Puerto Rico…and I didn’t make it. Which I feel terrible about. I know it would’ve been a fun one to hang with the family, 90’s a pretty huge birthday… but waves-wise, it was the best all season. And that always happens. The best waves and swells ALWAYS coincide with something important in your life. I either missed my graduation or prom, but every time there’s something important, the swell of the year pops up. Always. It’s just a rule: As soon as you make plans, the best swell happens and you miss it. Anything from going to a farmer’s market on a Sunday to my grandma’s 90th birthday. [laughs] Maybe we’re just so deep down the wormhole of surfing that everything gets in the way of it [laughs]."

Photo: Corey Wilson

Mick Fanning asks us what isn’t worth missing when waves like this are rifling right outside your window. No, really, is there anything?

Photo: Scotty Hammonds

Mitch Coleborn: …Instead of Excuses

"I think even if I wasn’t going to surf, I’ll go out of my way to use it as an excuse: That I was surfing instead. For instance, replying to emails, or any other daily work that I’ve gotta do…I’ll just say I was surfing instead, or I’ll even go surfing if I don’t feel like doing that work, just so that excuse would be valid. I mean, it’s my job, right? [laughs] I almost used it on you. I was almost gonna surf at 10 o’clock instead of doing this little interview. [laughs] We almost didn’t talk. So it’s my No. 1 excuse, but it actually does apply and no one can call me out on it because it’s my work. I’ve just embraced it."

Photo: Ben Thouard

“The ex always said there was another woman and that woman was the ocean. She was kidding… but she also wasn’t. There wasn’t another woman…but there was the ocean.” ­–Mark Cunningham

If surfers can juggle a girlfriend (or spouse) and still manage to surf a bit, then consider them progressive polygamists. William Aliotti with “the other woman,” instead, Tahiti. Photo: Ben Thouard

Photo: Diogo D'Orey

Nic Von Rupp: …Instead of Family

"Surfing is kind of both your worst enemy and best friend. [laughs] It’s always your priority and, yeah, being a surfer, you can be pretty selfish. Especially if you wanna score and get big, perfect waves. You leave everything behind. I’ve missed nearly every single family get-together because I’ve been at a contest or chasing swells. I’ve missed Christmases, birthdays, my own birthday… My family just doesn’t quite get why I don’t want to be home for all that or be together with family and friends. I guess I’m the only surfer in the family, so it’s hard for them to understand my obsession. But even the plain fact of how fast conditions can change — with it being firing one day and bad the next — to be on top of that, you have to chase it. I think a lot of people don’t have as much passion for something as a lot of surfers have. They might not know what it’s like to be totally devoted to something, having to chase it at any cost. But of course that has an aspect of selfishness because you’re choosing that — instead of anyone else. I guess it’s kind of a sensitive subject, whether for family or a girlfriend…But at the end of the day, it’s about finding a balance. Trying to make it up to them when the waves are not good, even if the priority is still the waves. [laughs]"