Extremes make me happy. I tend towards them in a significant way, and that tendency goes something like this: I love the absolute saturation of thought – examining an idea to the point of near-paralysis. Mulling it over endlessly, obsessively. Our ability to think critically makes us characteristically human, and I believe it’s what drives innovation in our world. I think it’s our duty to embrace that analytical instinct to its most extreme – to push each other and learn from one another, casting a constructive light on our world’s vast diversity.
Alternatively, I love the absolute absence of thought: with jaw agape, expressionless, body flexed in anticipation of the falling lip ahead. No thoughts. Only instincts. Only the moment at hand. Only a primal urge to survive as a cocktail of endorphins and adrenalin bubble through your blood. That impulse reminds us that we’re animals empowered by nature’s fury. In those moments, we are unmistakably alive. And, in my view, delicately balancing those two counterpoints is life’s sweet spot. It’s one or the other. Avoiding that middle road – that place where we idle along comfortably, avoiding risk, avoiding reward, and avoiding our own potential – is how I approach living a stoked life.
Not surprisingly, surfing provides a great framework for that mentality. There is ample opportunity for pensive reflection: eyes-closed, meditative moments bobbing in the lineup at dusk. Sunrise surf checks and crackling campfires. And then there is that feeling. The one we paddle for. The one that vanishes as quickly as it appears. The one that makes us junkies more than athletes.
I’m fairly certain that it’s precisely these poles that infect us with an incurable commitment to the ocean. I think life functions the same way. We pursue extremes, and we hope for balance.
I want to sprint breathlessly towards those poles. I want my victories golden and my defeats deep and dark. I want to be thoughtful and mindless at once. To me, that is a stoked life.