By Skye Walker
One could argue the point of what is cool and what is not cool in this world. I know I have certainly passed judgement on others because what they were doing didn’t appear to be cool to me. But in the same respect, I know that same judgement has been passed on me too. Shame on me for ever doing that. Because whatever activity thatperson was doing, that I didn’t think was ‘cool’, was making them happy and isn’t that the point of life? No matter what we do, we can’t escape the subtle or harsh criticisms of the world.
It’s inevitable. But don’t let that deter you from your path of happiness.
Being cool has nothing to do with being happy because being cool is a figment of our imagination and a projection of our pop culture soaked society. Being happy means you don’t care about cool one bit.
So you want to go rollerblading with just a speedo on? Do it. You want to do paintings of pink elephants in Cadillacs? Have at it. You want to be a uni-cycle mountain biker? Go send it. You want to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Get after it. You want to boogie board? Okey dokey. The point is, if it’s making you happy (and not hurting anyone) who cares what others think about it? It’s your life… do what you like, right? Yes. Go do it now.
I love surfing. Of course, it’s cool. One could argue that it is one of the coolest things you can do in this world! To ride on a wave, maneuver down the line and pull into barrels and feel the energy of the earth and ocean under your feet… damn that’s cool. Nothing compares. It’s so cool that a lot of people like to do it. It’s open season in the seas now. Everyone has their favorite shred sticks and it’s game on at your favorite breaks. The weekdays don’t even accommodate “Gentleman’s Hour” anymore. It’s a war out there… Everyone is doing their own thing… with 100 of their “best” friends.
This influx of people rushing to the seas to enjoy the splendor of the waves hasn’t scared me away from surfing… but it did shift me in a different direction to experience the joys of the sea. I received a pair of Viper V5 Flex fins for my 30th birthday from some good friends six years ago… but they sat in my house for about a year and half before I ever used them.
I was a surfer, not a bodysurfer. I needed to get my wave count on my board because I loved it! But man, my wave count was down with the amount of pros, locals, barneys and kooks crowding the line-up. I didn’t dislike surfing, but the frustration of paddle battling was getting to me… but I didn’t know how much it was bugging me.
Then one day I took those fins out and discovered the subtle, freeing and under-the-radar nature of body surfing. To my left was a familiar, crowded peak with an onslaught of boards going in all directions… and where I was, well, it was empty. Just me and my buddy Kyle, dropping into unridden little gems, getting blown up in mini barrels and laughing our asses off. And not fighting any crowd to do it. Having the time of our lives without a care in the world and certainly not giving a second thought to whether or not what we were doing was cool. We were having a blast, and what could be cooler than that? I’m sure it looked like two guys flopping around from the beach… It was awesome, addictive, freeing and mostly, we were doing our OWN thing. We weren’t fighting for waves to enjoy and have fun… we were having a blast on our own terms.
The climbing community recently lost one of it’s most influential athletes. Dean Potter perished BASE jumping/wingsuit flying in Yosemite, CA. He was an absolute superhuman climber, slackliner, BASE jumper, wingsuit flier and he founded the sport of free-basing (climbing with just a chute and no ropes). People in the climbing community along with normal people who don’t climb certainly called him crazy, nuts, looney and more. His nickname was “The Dark Wizard”. But he didn’t care. He was doing what HE wanted, for himself. To feed that hunger inside of him. He didn’t give two cents about what people thought, and he broke the rules to do it. He was jumping illegally in Yosemite when he died. He went outside the rules to do his own thing and he paid the ultimate price. But he wouldn’t have wanted to go any other way because he left this world on his own terms.
This is an extreme example of someone ignoring the world to do their own thing to be happy. But it still hammers in the fact that if there is something you want to do that makes you happy, then do it. Screw the nay sayers. Do your thing and don’t look back. If your friends surf and won’t touch fins because they are “too cool” to do it, who cares? Go get pitted without them. Chances are, you’ll catch more waves and barrels than they will and all they’ll have to say is how many times there were burned on a wave.
There is a special place inside each of us that holds the truth of who we are and what we do… and we know that truth. You can wear this truth as a silent badge of honor and know that yes, I’m a rollerblader… I’m a mime… I re-enact the Lord of the Rings for fun… I’m a BASE jumper… I’m a bodysurfer and love it. Whether or not people know these truths about you, it doesn’t matter because you know the truth. You know it makes you happy to do your own thing… and no one can take that away from you.