Find what you love and let it kill you.
I saw this written in a bathroom in a local coffee shop the other night. To give the (original) author credit, it was Charles Bukowski who said it, which I found through a quick google search. Apparently, he was a writer born on my birthdate, heavily influenced by his (and my) home city of LA, and died not far from where I live. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
When I think of hobbies or passion that consume someone completely, I think of surfing. In my hometown, surfing is not just a weekend hobby or a minority sport. It’s a way of life. I don’t surf (although I wish I learned), but I grew up watching most of the boys and a lot of the men (and some women- not enough) in my community get up before sunrise day after day, even on school days, to pull on wetsuits and get in the freezing cold water just for the chance to catch a wave. I watched them line up on the cliffs in the morning and afternoons looking longingly at the ocean, wishing in waves, and I watched them climb up and down cliffs with heavy boards sticky with wax. I even watched them fall, boards cracked and skin grated up on the ocean floor. And I watched them get back in, again and again.
I realized even as a little girl that surfing is not like other sports. You cannot control the location, the time of day, or really any of the circumstances under which you engage in your obsession. You submit to it. Women who are married to committed surfers are called “surf widows.” Their husbands aren’t really dead, but they might as well be. They have lost them to the stubborn allure of surf. They have found what they love. And they let it kill them. Continue reading