A matter of morale
I quit surfing at age 5 after my older cousin, Asher, had his heel sliced wide open by his surfboard fin and nearly shredded his Achilles. Surfing was too dangerous, I decided, so I signed up for Little League instead. One day, after sitting idle in the outfield for ages (no kid in Little League ever hits a ball that far), I accidently peed my pants. Needless to say, my teammates made fun of me once I finally made it back to the dugout. I was devastated. That day, I decided baseball sucked.
I started surfing again when I was 7. My first wave — at least the first time I got to my feet and rode straight to the sand — is still my most vivid memory from my early youth. Surfing became a part of everyday life. My world quickly began to revolve around it. Today, I have surfing to thank for all my amazing friends, my job and every last stamp in my passport. Stepping off the baseball diamond and back into the ocean in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, all those years ago was the best decision I ever made. Plus, no one can make fun of you for peeing your pants while surfing.
Back in April, I ruptured my ACL while snowboarding. The injury required surgery and eight months out of the water. Before my blown knee, I’d never been hurt. No stitches. Not a single broken bone. I’d never gone more than a few weeks without getting in the water. Since surgery, I’ve missed out on trips to Fiji, Africa and Samoa. And as much as that hurts, being out of the ocean here at home hurts worse. Missing lunch sessions with the staff. Weekend beach days. Nothing breaks up the monotony of life like surfing. It’s always new. Exciting. Something to constantly look forward to. Surfers don’t need some “thing” — like money, a nice car or a huge house — to drive us. We don’t spend our lives waiting for some vacation or person to make us happy because happiness is always around the corner — the next swell, your next wave.
The most content people I know also surf the most, and that’s no coincidence.
A week before going to press, I was standing outside my office door, looking at images on the wall for this issue. Damien Hobgood standing inside massive tubes in Chile. Craig Anderson and Noa Deane going mad in Indo. The photos were all incredible, but after 100 days (and counting) without surfing myself, I was fed up. A nice south swell was running in Southern California and everyone else had gone surfing. I was alone. For the first time ever, work felt like…work. It was late on a Friday and I was ready to go home.
As I turned to leave, our janitor, John, rolled by. He’s been working with the company for over a decade. Officially, John’s job is to keep the premises clean. Unofficially, he’s our CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer), and he’s earned that title — I’ve never met a more positive, uplifting person. I must’ve looked bummed. Or tired. Maybe both.
“Zander, how are you doing this evening? How’s the knee today?” John asked in a hushed library voice. Around 5 p.m. he’s always quiet, presumably because he doesn’t want to bother anyone.
“I’m good, thanks,” I replied, but my answer was stock and uninspired.
“Man, I hope so. I really do. I watch you guys in here. I listen. You guys live it, man. That’s what makes this magazine special.” He stopped and admired the wall. Studied every image. Some that made the cut, others that didn’t. All amazing. Then he looked me right in the eye and said: “I’m telling you, Zander, don’t ever stop loving this.” And with that, my disposition — which had turned drab — brightened again.
I get to work with amazing people every day. Discuss new ideas. Plan exciting trips and sometimes even go on them. This month I had the pleasure of editing Jamie Tierney’s profile on Clay Marzo [pg. 50], help curate a list of surfing’s guiltiest pleasures and look at countless photos of the best waves and surfers in the world. I left the office smiling. The next day I went to the beach with a notepad and pen, sat down in the sand on a bright Saturday morning and wrote this: my first foreword for a publication I’ve been studying my entire life.
I caught my first wave 20-something years ago. I’ll catch another one sometime later this year. Until then, I still have SURFING to keep me stimulated. Inspired. And I’ll always thank surfing for that. —Zander Morton