Yesterday, my husband and I walked on the beach. As we were enjoying hearing the waves roll in, and having the sand between our toes, we noticed all the surfers. The surfers were preparing to go out, surfers coming in, and surfers dotting the water in their black wetsuits as far as we could see.
In the evening, just in time for the sun to set, we took another walk but this time on the cliffs above the beach. We could see little black dots, dozens of them, bobbing out in the water offshore. From sunrise to sunset – surfers. Their dedication made me think of people and their passions.
Some people devote all their spare time to surfing; others devote all their spare time to playing music, climbing, hiking, swimming, golf or any number of things. I thought about how lucky those people are to have something they love to do so much in their lives – something that occupies their days, nights, thoughts, and that they spend their time and money to do.
I don’t have a passion like that. I like to write, but I frequently avoid doing it. There are times when I will do anything to pass the time besides write. I don’t think I feel about writing the way those surfers feel about catching a wave.
I wonder if a person has something that they are so focused on, and that they enjoy so much if they avoid having an existential crisis where they try to find meaning in their life? What if someone loves surfing so much that the thought that there is something more out there doesn’t cross their mind?
I wonder if people who have a passion for something are happier and more well-adjusted than those that don’t? I don’t think so because there are examples like Van Gogh, who spent most of his time and resources painting and he had a mental illness. Was his illness made better or worse by his passion? I would like to know. Maybe, he would have been unable to function if he hadn’t had his paintings. Maybe, if he hadn’t been driven almost to the point of obsession to paint, he would have been healthier? Who can say?
I do think I would be healthier if I weren’t so wrapped up in my thoughts and in my head – let’s say if I had something physical I loved to do like surfing – something where I didn’t think so much.
I have a mental illness, though, and part of the symptoms of that might very well be, too much time spent on my internal world. It can be a dark and scary world at times, and it would be a relief if I could turn that darkness off.
I think I am going to try to get out more or find something thrilling to spend my time doing. I am fairly certain less time spent in my mind would be a good thing. I would take up surfing, but I’m terrified of sharks – real sharks, not the kind that you experience when you have a mental illness.