Do you ever feel guilty about going surfing? I do. Those mid-day surf sessions when I could and probably should be working. The events I’ve showed up late or salty to because I had to squeeze in a quick session beforehand. The friendships I’ve let fall on the back burner because they don’t surf and I’d rather spend my free time in the water with my friends that do. The evening get-togethers I’ve skipped in order to catch some shut eye before a dawn patrol session. The days on end when I’ve been MIA because there’s a solid south swell.
Sometimes, I feel guilty about making surfing the centerfold of my life. But should I?
Recently, I went for a surf at 11:30 a.m. on a Monday. When I pulled into the parking lot, I immediately felt guilty. I had lots to get done and it was a time when I would normally be working. But the swell was solid at my favorite surf spot and the tide was right, so I decided to paddle out. I looked at my watch and vowed to make it a quick session while still feeling guilty. But was my guilt validated?
Sure, it was the middle of a workday. Yes, most of my friends were working. But I’m a freelancer and set my own hours. I always turn in my work on time. I’m not in debt and pay my bills in full. Plus, my job is to write about surfing. And it’s important to practice what you preach, right?
Throughout the session, I gave the idea of guilt a lot of thought. Whenever I surf or do something that isn’t work during normal “work hours” I often allow myself to feel guilty. But I intentionally set up my life and my job to allow for a flexible schedule so I could chase swells, go on surf trips, spend time with my friends/family, etcetera. I hated school with a passion, and I vowed that I would never find myself in a career that I hated. And I don’t. I love my job immensely and I love that it allows me the freedom to sneak out and surf when the waves are good.
Plus, taking an hour or two a day to surf makes me a better person. It clears my mind and helps me focus and be more productive when I am working. It sparks creativity. It helps alleviate stress. It keeps me stay fit and healthy. It allows me to be more present in my relationships. It brings me joy.
So, should I feel guilty about going surfing? No, definitely not. And neither should you.
I’m not saying that you should neglect your job. Nor am I saying you should show up late to your anniversary dinner or bail on your friends in the name of catching waves. Life is about balance and as adults, we only have so much free time — you should spend yours doing what you love.
Take that long lunch break when the waves are good. Show up to the family get together with damp hair and salty skin. Paddle out at dawn and meet up with your non-surf friends afterwards. Leave the guilt at home and catch as many waves as your heart desires — you deserve it.