Got this in my inbox this morning. Not often I get a response to an editorial that’s as moving as this…
FAO Sharpy. Editor.
Read your leading article in latest mag, issue 161. ‘Do you ever lose your mojo?’
What an incredible and succinct piece of writing. Absolutely awesome. I wish it could be sent to all phone and gadget autobots I see in our world everyday. Slaves to an imaginary world, desperately seeking answers with endless social network scrolling. Read Sharpy’s article I want to roar. Pick up a board, get wet, just do something. Quit your moaning. Start your mojo.
I believe your article resonated with me particularly as I see surfing as my soul saviour, which came about the morning I paddled out at high tide at Putsborough two years ago, quite accidentally.
My journey to the sea started 18 months before that baptism paddle in Devon. It was winter in London and I had started working at a global media agency, a very sought after job of my generation apparently, my job was basically to ensure the public purchased our clients products that they didn’t need or want. From 9am to 5:30pm I would be sat in front of two computer screens, tapping keyboard keys and taking the odd phone call. I do not exaggerate here, no matter how well they tried to dress the job up, Barry the goldfish still could have done it. So, there I was, about three and a half minutes into my first day and I knew I was in the wrong place entirely. However. I had convinced myself at 24 years old that it was time to be sensible. Get a career that was stable, with a good pension plan, 21 days holiday a year, and burn my life away. The predictability of my future suddenly seemed terrifying. I was waking up in the morning and going to work purely out of obligation, not out of opportunity. I did not want to let anyone down and I was convincing myself every second that this was the right way to ‘live’.
Weekday evenings and weekends were my only meditation. I would go to the gym and run along the Thames five days a week. Then run the soles off my feet at weekends, exploring the country, re-finding my soul. Then it would all start again on Monday. Death by computer.
A year and a half in to the job, and coupled with some other unfortunate circumstances in my life, my brain went kaput. My alarm went off one morning and I could not for the life of me figure out why I was getting up. Every breath seemed like a conscious breath to me. I had no appetite, no lust for life. Everything had gone. I tell you, at that time, if I had been told I had just won the lottery and that the entire women’s Swedish Netball team coincidentally wanted to go for a beer with me; I would have not lifted a muscle. Not shown a spark of response. Something had reached into me and stole away my heart and soul. Several months later I was diagnosed with some form of manic depression and mild bi-polar. That had decided to brandish its knife at this particular time. Get in.
Medicine was prescribed. Taken. But I was always suspicious of the pills. How was I supposed to know if I was feeling better because of medication or because, maybe, I just felt good that day, that hour, I smiled.
Summer arrived. Myself, plus my two closest friends hired a campervan and headed to Croyde for the first time. “Could try some surfing?” they suggested.
Movement and travel always helped me, perhaps it was the unexpected destinations that lay ahead. Both physical and spiritual. The secret destinations within ourselves that seeing a new horizon can only light.
First day in Devon. I sat in the car park overlooking Putsborough, from dawn until dusk I watched surfers surf. ‘That truly is the closest thing to flying,’ I remember thinking. But, what struck me more, was the patience and purpose that existed between sets. As men, women, teenagers, kids, and everyone sat atop their boards all looking out to sea for the next set. To this day I cannot think of another past-time or scenario where humans come together and all face out the same way, together in patience, purpose and harmony. Waiting for the most reliable piece of pure joy. The wave.
The next day I hired a board, paddled out as the sun breached the horizon. And sat there on my board. One of the flock. Again I must tell you that I do not exaggerate here, but from that moment on everything changed for me. Purpose was found and damn it looked fun. I think it is the minimalism of surfing that grabbed me. That calmed the delicate mechanism of the mind. Out there, catching waves, waiting, nothing can get to me. Nothing. I smiled and laughed to myself for perhaps the first time in a year. I was back.
Since that day I have required no medicine and no treatment. I have a job that allows me to surf every weekend and I am heading off on my first surf trip abroad to Bali in September. Almost two years to the day when I first paddled out.
On the days that the darkness does tease my soul, I shut my eyes and imagine the day I will be able to ride my first barrel, completely surrounded by water. Laughing my backside off in joy. That’s my purpose, for me. To have fun. To surf. To live for opportunity. Not obligation. As you say in your article Sharpy, ‘No matter what, your love for surfing will always be there.’
Again, thanks if anything. Keep writing the way your write.
p.s – This honestly started off as a quick “Nice article” all the very best e-mail. And, well, as you can see, that escalated quickly.