A New Way To Start Surfing

Why would an avid surfer quit for five years?

My friend Tom Johnson started surfing again last weekend after a five-year hiatus. He was never pro, but he used to rip in high school. He had sponsors and stuff, and we were always really competitive. But then he just stopped. I was wondering why he wanted to start again after five years, so I asked him straight up, “Why did you start surfing again?”

“I don’t know, but basically I was ready to,” Tom said, pondering the question. “I’ve gotten to the point where I can do it to have fun as opposed to doing it ’cause I wanted to be good at it. I never felt like I ever learned how to surf for fun. I used to surf to get good, compete, and get sponsored. I had the teenage dreams of being a pro, but all that doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. I’ve learned to surf and have fun. I know it sounds crazy.”

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Actually, it doesn’t sound crazy—it sounds awesome. So many young people get caught up in the same mess, whether it’s skating, surfing, baseball, or whatever. We learn how to do something that’s fun, but after a certain point, it becomes something we do to get good at. Why does this happen? Is it human nature?

It would be cool to go back in time to when you were a beginner. The joy of just going down the line would be enough to make a whole session great. The truth is, we all can. Tom did it, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. We should all take something from a reborn surfer. Have fun, who really cares how good you are.—Chris Cote