Editor’s Note: On August 18, The Inertia’s EVOLVE Summit will celebrate people from the surf and outdoor worlds that use their influence to make a positive imprint on society. Cyrus Sutton epitomizes the pursuit of individuality–observing the way society operates and charting a new course. From famously spending time living in what we still believe is the raddest van of all time to creating films inspiring viewers to protect what they love, Cyrus makes no apologies for doing it his way. Here, he takes a look at a crucial fork-in-the-road moment, where he chose the lane less traveled. Cyrus will be speaking about building a life around your passions at this year’s EVOLVE Summit. Get tickets now and enter code LASTCHANCE at checkout to receive $25 off until August 8th, 2018.
It’s always been a decision of mine to take the harder route. As I think about the first time that route felt the truest for me, I can recall one moment in particular:
I was living in an apartment in La Jolla after my first film Riding Waves made me some money. I didn’t leave the apartment for a long time. I was 21 and battling depression. My family got involved. They were all college professors, they encouraged me to get counseling and go to college. Then a guy named Glen Horn, who I’d met in Baja on a road trip with John Peck, was checking in with me when I confided in him that I was in a bad spot. Throughout high school, there was a lot of pressure from my family to go to college and do all that, but I was too obsessed with surfing and thought I could make a living by being creative but I had demons.
Glen drove up 15 minutes from Pacific Beach to visit me and said, “Hey man, you’ve gotta get to Baja. [My wife] Roberta and I will take care of you for four or five months.” The choice to be made was really clear.
Making the decision to go to Baja with the Horns instead of going to school and counseling put my life on the path I’m on now. From that point forward, whenever I’ve faced adversity I go into nature to be with myself as opposed to relying on various systems in society. And for everything I’ve done since, that’s kind of been my North Star, it’s all revolved around that.
Nature has been a necessity for me to operate at a level that’s competitive within society. And all of my work, the jobs I take, the projects I try to do, they all give me that autonomy to be able to do that. And in turn, I choose not to do projects, regardless of the money, that may take me away from nature too long.
Loneliness, for me, is a fleeting emotion. My nourishment doesn’t come solely from companionship, it comes from purpose. I’d rather be alone in nature where everything has a purpose than surrounded by others who do not want the same things. My ultimate goal, and largely where I am at now, is to be with people I love and relate to surrounded by nature and this has all been possible by choosing to return to the natural world again and again.