“Happiness is a choice, not a reaction.” – Bruce Irons
I knew I would sit down with Bruce Irons at some point during my trip to Bali, and I wanted to have a meaningful conversation. I hoped to catch a glimpse, if only for a fleeting twenty minutes, into his headspace after an extended run of life-changing adversity. Two and a half years ago, Bruce lost his brother Andy, and just nine months back, he’d ended a 19-year relationship with Volcom. Both were family.
Shortly before we met up, Bruce surfed his first ASP World Tour heat in quite a while. He lost.
“I was a little nervous,” Bruce told me. “I said I wasn’t going to be, but I had my nerves…I just gotta relax.”
When my non-surfing friends ask me about Bruce Irons, I tell them he’s like the James Dean of surfing. Dudes want to be him; girls’ eyes follow him around at the bar. You don’t brush up against Bruce without feeling his confidence, so I was surprised to hear him admit insecurity. With his wildcard bid to the Oakley Pro Bali, he was eager to do right by his old friends on Tour, prove that he’s still an elite force, and, beyond that, I imagine he wanted to capitalize on the recent burst of positive energy he said he’s brought into his life. From his new team at Fox to a refined circle of close friends, Bruce credits new peers with reviving the trademark confidence that the last two years have so violently shaken.
“They’re real supportive of me,” Irons told me. “It’s nice to have that love and that support. It makes me want to work harder…It’s something new and something I needed in my life, because it seemed like everything in the past was stagnant and jaded.”
During my seventeen-hour plane ride, I scribbled down prompts that might tease out interesting thoughts from one of surfing’s most fascinating figures.
And now, we meet with Bintangs in hand at an upscale hotel bar where Oakley is hosting a party full of good-looking people. We walk away from the crowd and take a quiet seat by the pool. It’s uncomfortably hot and humid. A camera begins rolling. And somewhere in that twenty-minute conversation, the camera fades away, and Bruce lets us in. Welcome. – Zach Weisberg
(HEADSPACE) is a new film series by The Inertia that takes viewers inside the minds of surfing’s most influential figures.
“The idea is to provide insight into who these people really are, what they care most about, and their mentality during a specific moment in time,” says Zach Weisberg, The Inertia Publisher and Editor in Chief. “Beyond surfing, we’re interested in people – revealing the substance behind the celebrity, and these candid interviews bring their stories and characters to the forefront.”
The series kicks off with Bruce Irons, who discusses everything from the key to happiness to learning from the loss of his brother, three-time World Champion Andy Irons.
Special thanks to Matt Pappas, Aaron Lieber, Brooks Sterling, Nate Smith, and Oakley.