February Issue 2012 Surfing Magazine

MY OWN TRAJECTORY HAS BEEN DEFINED BY GIVING UP

February Issue 2012 Surfing Magazine

People love to talk about the importance of “sticking with it.” We’re taught to “follow through,” “never give up” and to “keep on truckin’.” But I think life is as much about quitting as it is seeing things through. Sometimes, just saying “f–k it,” and walking away from whatever is weighing you down can be the cure-all and lead you to perfection.

My own trajectory has been defined by giving up. I studied Hotel Management at San Diego State, and in my senior year completed my internship rotations at the front desk and housekeeping departments of the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. Once, during my afternoon shift at reception, Brad Gerlach approached me (in my too-big suit and tie) and I blurted “Good afternoon, Mr. Gerlach,” while he was still, like, 15 feet away. His girlfriend was stunning and I fumbled with their room keys.

While my classmates took jobs at hotels across the country, I quit before I’d even started and traveled through the Southern hemisphere — Indo. Australia. PNG. And Tahiti, where I surfed with Dane Reynolds, who had just qualified for the World Tour but seemed more interested in Chopes with five guys in the water. It would turn out that Dane and the ASP were ill-matched dance partners — Dane was the white boy with supernatural rhythm and the ASP was, well, just the white boy. Four years later Dane would quit the tour.

Later that trip I met Nate Lawrence at a wave pool in Malaysia, where he was shooting photos for SURFING magazine. He’d quit his job at a photo lab a few years before and moved to Bali to pursue a career in surf photography. Now he was thriving. We had beers in the hotel lobby and I watched him organize a strike mission to the South China Sea and I was so envious that I literally asked if they needed someone to carry their equipment. They laughed because they thought I was joking.

I went home. Worked. Saved. Quit. Traveled again. This time to Africa. And I kept a blog.

In Cape Town I linked up with a South African friend, Daniela, who was dating a guy, Casey, from Huntington Beach. He had ditched his job in the States to follow Daniela to her native South Africa. “Taylor’s trying to get into writing,” she told him. She’d read my blog. “Right on,” Casey said. “My best friend actually just became the editor at SURFING.” We spent the following day surfing a long left up the Western Cape. We scored, but no more was said about his friend.

But I would meet his friend, Travis Ferré, six months later through an email introduction from Nate Lawrence, and it was then that I began writing for the magazine. A year later Travis would hire me as the associate editor. Another year after that, a year filled with lessons and edits and drinks and surfs and big talks, he would quit. And I couldn’t be happier for him. Happy that he just said “f–k it.” Happy that he’s taking a risk. Happy that he’s following through on those big talks and happy that he left me his chair. Because it’s quite comfortable, and I’m thinking of sticking around for a while. —Taylor Paul