Back in the days of early Americana, my Pop rode on a ship from Southern California to Hawaii. He, like many other stateside “Haoles,” fell in love with the islands’ sweet charm, its local people, and fragrant air. To most folks that grew to know him, they felt he had it good: A new, Stanford doctor with a budding medical practice, a fancy car, and a perfect family. And yet, he was miserable. Why? Working so close to his beloved Waikiki beach, he rarely had the chance to do what he loved – which was to surf.
Like so many of us today, he was caught in the “hamster wheel of death.” Not enough time or money to do what inspires you and no way out. Poor Doc, or “Tex” as he was called at the time, hit rock bottom when his marriage fell apart and his world came crumbling down. It was in the depths of his darkest hour that he looked at himself in the mirror and simply snapped…casting aside all that was holding him down, he saddled up his iron will, sold all of his material things, and set off on an adventure that he would stay on for most of his life.
What he did was really quite brilliant. He cast lines on this incredible journey, in search of truth, that gave him all of the blessings that he said he had gained throughout the 93 years he graced this earth. Reshuffling the deck of chance laid out for him – he started a second run at life.
His new formed “Surf-Safari” lifestyle morphed as he went along, discovering surf breaks, new ways to have a great time and to use his skills as a doctor for good, not profit. Damn the establishment.
It was his story and he was writing it fresh, every day, rubbing shoulders with dregs and kings alike. The funny thing was that along the way so many of the people who thought he was a screwball for giving up such a respected life were shocked at how many opportunities for personal heroics, wealth, and success that came to him despite his desire to avoid precisely that.
Setting up camp south of Acapulco. I think. Photo: Paskowitz
Believe me, 20 years before Jack Kerouac wrote “On the Road,” a book about taking “Life’s other paths,” Doc Paskowitz, surf doctor, was on the road. He was heading to Mexico in a converted Studebaker that he made into an early style surf-mobile in search of the perfect wave. Then the Middle East, sleeping on the shores of the Red Sea, honing his message of a life well lived:
“It’s easier to die when you have lived, than it is to die when you haven’t.” So I say to all young people, go make memories: Beautiful memories. Because when the time comes to go, you won’t go alone.”
Today, as busy life has stretched across the globe, dwindled are Doc’s days of living on a SoCal beach and catching lobsters and cooking them right on the spot. The rat race has evolved into an immeasurably powerful trap, more so than ever. Between technology and consumerism (the one-two punch of this world we live in) it is an all-encompassing, all-knowing, all-watching, all-packaged, and all-the-time existence. We are on a ride and there is no sign of it stopping.
And yet… Out there today some brave folks are simply not choosing to run face-first into consumerism. They are simply choosing life’s “other path” first. The newest, brightest, and boldest (not just the youngest) are looking at things through a refreshed set of eyes.
Julius Caesar would tip his toga to the power, wealth, and eccentricity of Bezos, Zuckerberg, Gates, Larry Page and Steve Jobs. Each of them, as off the wall as Caesar himself. Armancio Ortega, second richest man in the world, left school at 14, to work in the hard sewing mills of Spain. He said, “If I’ve made so much money, it’s because my objective has never been to make money.”
Paddling in Alaska. Passing on the surf-safari tradition to my kids. Photo: Paskowitz
So take the un-path. College? Sure, if you can, (without a lifetime of debt). Nothing so great as college can be wrong. but, no matter what your age, have an equal to or better amount of apprenticeship in the deep, wild, sweaty, glorious, real world.
Plan for some real travel and giving back to humanity. Do it in a way that’s as simple as possible. Don’t just fly to a destination. Convert your car and fix what’s ailing it. Don’t buy it new, learn to re-build. #LIVELIKEDOC and make it into a cozy camper. Then set out to find someone to hang in it with you. Meet with others who re-use and re-cycle and re-build and collaborate your rig. Post it online and inspire others. Go viral. Contact me. I have been on a journey all of my life. I have free advice.
Then go. Go everywhere – go anywhere. Why? So that the blessed hands of luck and love, repeatedly see you in their path and reward you for being so damn hearty. How about learning to sail? The world is your oyster by boat. Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your life, work hard on being you. The wild ass you that came into this world buck naked and screaming!