“Are we bums? Can we do it?”
It’s 3 am. I’m sleeping. My girlfriend is drunk and writing me text messages, worried about what we were talking about before I went to sleep and she started drinking.
Sometimes in life (and I’m not sure that I have enough life experience to wax poetic about it), an opportunity presents itself that you just can’t say no to. Picture yourself at the edge of a chasm. You can’t see the bottom, and the other side is shrouded in mist. There’s just a shadow of what might be, but it’s not totally clear what’s over there. But here’s the rub: you’ve been sprinting towards this chasm for a long time, hoping that when you get there, the mist will have lifted and you’ll have a clear view. If you slow down, you won’t clear it, but you can’t see across it. Do you keep sprinting, shut your eyes and leap? Or do you slow down, catch your breath and wait a little bit longer?
“Yes. And yes,” I respond. We will be bums. And we can do it. She’s worried because we’re about to embark on something that could be taken as kind of dumb. I’m almost 31 years old, I have no savings, and I’m about to quit my job (don’t tell my boss, because I haven’t yet) and run away to that something I’ve been running towards for a long time.
I’ve spent a lot of my life working labor jobs, bouncing from place to place, swimming in bottles, riding waves, and getting sunburned. It was good. But then, a few years ago, I decided to sort my life out and grow up. I went to school, got the piece of paper, got a job, and quickly realized that I hated it. I missed the labor jobs. I missed bouncing from place to place. I called it quits, went up north to run a chainsaw in the snow again, and then dipped my toes in the warm water of a southern climate for a few months. Fantastic.
Back to waxing poetic. I like to think of life as a piñata. There’s so much hidden in there just waiting to bust out of its brightly colored body. You just have to hit it hard enough. If you give it a little tap because you’re scared of whatever might be behind it, there’s a good chance you’re just going to ding a leg off it and get a tiny little bit of what might be in there. But if you really hit it – and I mean hit it hard – you might get the whole shebang. I like whole shebangs. Of course, there’s a chance you might knock it right off its rope and send it sailing across the yard leaving you empty handed and forlornly looking at what might have been in there. But shit, did you really want just a taste or did you want the whole thing?
There’s something about this little website that you may not know. We don’t work out of an office. We don’t have editorial meetings. With the exception of a few, we have other jobs. I’m a utility arborist. Reid works for the ISA. Ted… well, I don’t know about Ted. I’ve never met him. But we sure do email a lot. We’re great email friends. In fact, Zach is the only one who is exclusively riding this bull through the internet arena, holding onto the rope with clenched teeth, swinging his cowboy hat above his head, waiting for the eight second mark.
So here’s the deal: I’m getting a camper van. I’m quitting my job. I’m packing my books, my girl, and my surfboard into it and I’m going to jump into the mist. And you know what? Whatever’s over there will be great. I’m going to jump on a bull and grab it by the horns. And once I have it, I’m going to shake the shit out of it.
I suppose, since this is a surfing website, I should try and relate this to riding waves. And I can. You know that moment when you realize you’re in a little over your head? The ocean lumps up, running towards you. You turn and paddle. Then you look back and realize that, holy shit, this is a much bigger wave than you thought. Sometimes you back out. But other times, you paddle harder. And half of those times you eat shit, but when you don’t… oh my.
So I’m not going to slow down. I’m going to speed up. I’m going to jump into the mist. I’m going to hit that piñata as hard as I can. I’m going to make that bull think he should be scared of riding me. I’m going to paddle as hard as I can. And it’s going to be great.