Traveling the globe, surfing amazing and uncrowded waves, learning about foreign cultures and languages, and making friends along every coastline. Sounds like the life of a professional surfer, right? Sounds like a dream. But at the same time, it sounds like my life. I am not a professional surfer, but I’m living the life, founded by dreams. At least, that’s what I like to call it.
I’m originally from Switzerland, and grew up far away from the ocean. In my twenties, I really started to surf, and always knew I would never become a pro surfer. But this didn’t stop me from living the dream.
As a traveller, you will come across people who will tell you that “Sooner or later, you’ll have to go back to reality!” and those people are right. But what is also true is that those are the kind of people who always do what they are “supposed” to do. People whose reality is to do what everyone else does, and to do things in exactly that way. Go to school, get a job, get married, buy a car and a house, have kids… you know.
I think that reality is a personal decision. It doesn’t has to be the same for everyone. Reality and truth are weird concepts, anyway. We tell our kids about Christmas and the Easter bunny at around the same age as we try to teach them not to lie. And then one day, when they find out the truth, they are disappointed. They cry. They’re confused, because something they knew to be real is displaced by another reality, given to them from the same people that gave them the last one. They can’t choose their own reality – it’s simply placed before them, and there is no other way. But later in life, we can make our own decisions, and everyone should make them in a way that fits them best, without harming others.
This life is about living. It’s not about possessions and spending his time in fancy hotels and eating in expensive restaurants. I do appreciate those things, though, as much as the comforts of what we look at as a “normal” life. But I can live happily for months at a time, without a hot shower to experience other cultures, and if possible, with a good, uncrowded wave within walking distance.
My style of traveling has changed over the years, as everything should. More and more, I’m finding that I’m more scared of missing out on the culture than the waves. On a trip to Sri Lanka a couple of year back, I was blessed with incredible waves. As perfect swell after perfect swell built on the horizon, I realized that my memory of the surf there would be the same, whether I surfed for twenty-five or for thirty days. But five days spend hiking in the highlands, seeing the tea plantations, or doing something totally different, would be more memorable.
So here’s my message: do something different. Those are the things you remember the most. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as it’s not what you’d normally do. Get out of your comfort zone. It’s ok to miss out on a perfect surf, if it means seeing the sun rising over a volcano. After all, in the end, life is nothing but a collection of our memories and experiences, so we should make sure we’ve got a lot of them. And you know what? Anyone can make those memories… it might as well be you.