People have been looking at me strange my entire life after I’ve explained my weekend, morning, or vacation.
The most common reaction to how I spend my free time is “Why?’ and I know I am not alone. We proudly wear those expressions of bewilderment as badges of honor. Surf and Adventure has always been a motley crew of people who relax uncomfortably. Whether it’s Rob putting a group of people 10 years younger than him in the pain cave on a gravel ride through False Cape on his only day off or Matt Price spending his vacation with his family living in a van and chasing surf though New Zealand, there is something that sets us apart. Fitness goals alone will not push a person to go on an 187 mile bike ride. We tread through discomfort to find what we are made of; walk up to our limitations and dare them to stop us from going further.
In search of Winter froth, John (surfer/journalist extraordinaire), Brett (now living in Hawaii), and myself found ourselves skating across Route 13 in my Honda Civic. A previous snow storm had left a thick sheet of ice blanketing the road. The question here is, “Why?”. The answer is the 10 foot buoy readings and the 20 mph northwest winds. While NW winds don’t make good surf buddies in Sandbridge, they create glassy wave faces at a few choice spots on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Wind chills were well below zero but I like to think that our stoke level brought temps up to a comfortable 40 degrees.
When we stopped at the front gate of the Wallops Island NASA facility to ask if we could be allowed on to paddle to Tom’s Cove, we didn’t get the typical government official response of “no”. The stationed soldier asked “WHY?”. Needless to say, we didn’t get to Tom’s Cove by way of NASA. We ended up driving to Assateague Island, walking two miles and changing into our wetsuits on a frozen, unprotected beach. I believe I only caught two waves but I remember that trip as one of my favorite surfs ever.
Many of us have stories just like this. However, as we get older we tend to look back on those times as being young and crazy. I say we were being young and growing. We were challenging our limitations and living like tomorrow is not a guarantee.
I believe that being uncomfortable is the key to becoming who you want to be. Taking on new challenges shouldn’t be something that happens once per decade of your life. Challenge yourself constantly. In both physical and mental senses, if you live your life surrounded by comfort, little growth can occur.
The next time you explain to your coworkers that you plan to __________________, after the look of bewilderment fades from their face, keep looking to see the jealousy leak through. I’ll be sleeping on the ground in Dolly Sods this weekend. Even if you can’t get away maybe you can find a way to walk a little further, see what’s around the corner, and maybe keep walking.
If you need a spark, I encourage you to check out our archives of adventures.