I’ve been fortunate enough over the last few months to find myself filling my days with three basic activities: eating, sleeping and surfing. There’s little doubt that surfing is my favourite activity on the planet, but at times I’ve found myself questioning the value of spending months on end with a predominant focus on those few activities.
I’ve come to realize that to a large extent my personal context and the place I was raised – a place that I still call home – has greatly shaped how I see myself and how I place myself in the wider world. I think that our contexts place emphasis on certain aspects of our lives, and encourage us to engage more strongly with certain paths on the long road that is life. This is neither good nor bad really, it just is.
I grew up in something like a paradise, there’s no two ways about that. I’m indebted to decisions my parents made, before I could comprehend them, to move to a small surf town in Northern New South Wales. Lennox Head is safe, it is a haven for wildlife, it is immensely beautiful and it also has the grand appeal of having lots of great waves in close proximity to each other. I can earn a good wage without too much trouble, which then allows me to travel the world. I try not to forget the good fortune that brings me.
But I’ve realised that while the weeks I’ve spent in a small village in Southern Mexico have revolved around those three activites, they have incorporated the wonderful and thrilling occupation of being able to observe a great many things throughout each day. In the last few weeks I have watched the first rains douse a harsh and dry landscape, transforming into hills of verdant green. The first buds appear on branches with such enthusiasm, giving life to trees that one week earlier looked the better part of dead. The birds have returned from the mountains in their hundreds, and with their wonderful palate of colours. The bugs have invaded, and with them a collection of frogs, geckos, tortoises and other little creatures. The morning birdsong has an air of enthusiasm and excitement for the impending months of healthy rainfall.
Every time I’ve called into question my motives about staying still, about indulging in long days of surfing, I’ve come back to this answer:
Time is our greatest gift. It is the only thing we can’t get back. It allows us the infinite luxury of observation of our world around us – plants, animals, our immediate environment and all those other human beings we share it with. And through observation comes fascination. In turn fascination stimulates curiosity and imagination.
Without curiosity and imagination we cease to treasure the gift that is our lives. I’m doing my best in trying to remember that in everything I do.