I fixate on the things I lose. Whether it’s people, girls, deals, arguments, whatever. If I don’t get what I want, and I feel I’ve put myself in a position where I’ve earned it, I don’t forget it. For better or worse, it motivates me.
For example, when I was 14, I was a very good soccer player. One of those bratty soccer kids traveling all over the country to slide tackle the world, but I was small for my age. Like 90 pounds. And after playing on Olympic Development teams with my friends for years, a new coach decided I was too small to keep pace with the A-Team. I needed to be taller than 5’ 5” and weigh more than 135 pounds to keep my place on his team of Aryans. He told me to hang from a pole. Gravity might stretch me out. No joke.
That sucked. Watching my friends leave me behind on account of my size was embarrassing. I honestly considered hanging from a pole. Somehow willing myself to grow. But I thought that might only stretch my arms rather than my entire body. I was probably right, because I was smarter than the genius coach who told me that. But then again, screw that guy.
Instead of proving him wrong on the soccer field, I chose to follow in my brother’s footsteps by refocusing my energy into wrestling. My older brother was a consummate badass wrestler, and, as I discovered, in wrestling I could beat up on other small people and succeed based mostly on hard work. No pole-hanging. Perfect. That transformation ended up being my ticket to an amazing education. It also inspired the best speech I ever delivered: “Discrimination Against Short People.” Best Middle School Speech of 1999, which ended with my own variation of MLK’s I Have a Dream: “I ask that you judge me not by the number of inches my doctor writes on my growth chart, but by the content of my character.”
Adorable! And so righteous! I knew how to play to my strengths.
The point is, that trivial slight inspired a journey of powerful transformation in my life. It seems the only things that light a fire under my ass are painful. Instances where I feel hurt, threatened, wronged or generally insecure. Those are the moments where I re-evaluate who I am, where I’m going, and how I’m going to take steps towards feeling fulfilled. By the time I was wrestling in college, I didn’t think much about soccer. I was on a new journey.
I can say the same thing for The Inertia.
I started this website with a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. I had run Surfer’s website for three years, and, internally, no one seemed to give a shit about it. The Internet, at that time, was the red-headed stepchild of the business, and aside from my frustration with an undervalued role, my ambition as a writer began to outsize what was acceptable in our industry. It reached a tipping point, and I had to move on. I did it with a smile and a lot of lifelong relationships, but also with a finger in the air.
Enter The Inertia. This was my gesture to fix what I thought was wrong with publishing in action sports and an opportunity to create something meaningful and fulfilling in surfing – the thing that no matter what was going on in my life had always made me happier than anything else.
And aside from welcoming a diversity of perspectives to the world of digital surf storytelling, the early days reflected that pissed-off approach. I said what I needed to say and wrote what I needed to write. Since then, we’ve grown. I’ve grown.
In September 2010, 3,618 unique browsers visited this website. In March, nearly half a million people visited The Inertia. And we’re making good on our vision of providing a platform for talented surfers around the world to share their work. This is your platform. It’s our platform.
With today’s relaunch, we’ve got a beautiful, industry-leading user interface with fully responsive design to optimize and retain the integrity of your work in an increasingly multi-screen age: cinema display, laptop, tablet, and mobile phones. We’ve also partnered with Solspot, a leading forecasting and camera network for surfers and snowboarders, to provide you with free, live surf cameras and conditions around the world, because we know what’s important to surfers: the surf. In two weeks we’ll unveil part two of our evolution, and that’s just as exciting.
You need to be able to see change. Someone told me that recently, and I believe it. So we got a haircut and a few new shirts. We’re growing up. There’s still a fire burning, and we’ve got plenty to prove, but we’re on a new journey now.
We cannot thank you enough for being part of it.