Some Notes Concerning That Crazy Dream I Had About Surfing

That Time I Decided I Wanted to Learn to Surf

(Photo by Brett Danielsen from Death to the Stock Photo Photo Pack)

One Sunday last May, I had a dream about surfing.

More accurately, that I was to write a book about surfing. In this dream, I was even given the title of said book.

What? Write a book about surfing? I don’t know diddly squat-all about surfing; I can barely swim.

Given the date – Mother’s Day, May 11, 2014 – I considered the possibility that it could be a message from my Mom, who passed away in 2009, and who I miss fiercely.

Now, when you have a dream that you’re supposed to do something slightly outlandish, what do you do?

Sure, writing a book feels like a fine thing to do. I’m a writer. Naturally I have that dream. But write a book about surfing? Not so much.

But I had to admit, I was intrigued by the idea. It actually lit me up.

Which I guess tells you something: if I didn’t immediately dismiss it as ridiculous, silly or crazy, then maybe there really was something to this thing that I was meant to pursue.

So I did what I often do when I get a nutty idea: I became slightly obsessed.

I began researching all things surfing: the sport of surfing, surf lessons, Wilmington, NC surf culture, surf lingo, surfing and spirituality, surf vacations, surfboard artists, books about surfing, and more.

Next I homed in on research about surf lessons in my local area, just for the fun of it. I checked into swim lessons at the Y because, if I did indeed decide to take surf lessons, naturally, the swimming must come first.

Then I started reading surf memoirs: first, The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld by Justin Hocking, then Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave by Peter Heller, and now, West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief by Steven Kotler.

I took myself to Barnes & Noble and stood like Cletus the slack-jawed yokel in front of the surf section of the bookstore, making a mental list of all the surfing-related books I would buy over the next few weeks and months.

I started researching surf vacations (did you know there are companies that specialize in surf travel?) and imagining myself in some tropical locale, where I would check out of work mode and check into a relaxed beach vibe, with surf lessons in the morning, yoga in the afternoon, and plenty of time to write in between.

Pure bliss, I tell you.

But what, I asked myself, was driving all this?

I thought about it and I thought about it, and the only thing I could come up with is that the last few years have been mostly work, work, work (with the added bonus of a massive amount of stress when I was still at my corporate writing gig), and very little play, and I need more play. Lots more.

I feel like I’ve had my life on lock-down since, oh, about 2012 or so, and quite possibly a lot longer, if I’m honest. I’ve been living as if every moment away from work and business – something I’ve been told is called “down time” – was certain to doom me to failure if I indulged in it regularly.

But now I have this powerful craving for an adventure of some kind, a way to introduce more uncomplicated, unadulterated fun into my life. Blissful, carefree, guilt-free fun, on the regular, as the youngsters say.

I also want to do something that will make me fall in love with life again, something that will help me recognize there is a life outside the confines of my office, this laptop, my copywriting business, and most of all, this obsessive, Type A, hyper-analytical, never-ending loop of thinking, thinking, thinking all the time instead of just being. Just breathing and enjoying, full stop.

And I think learning to surf can help get me there.

That’s what the dream was for.

Fingers crossed I don’t chicken out.


What about you? Have you ever decided to do something crazy based on a whim or a dream? How did it turn out? What lessons did you learn? Would you recommend following your intuition this way? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Thanks for checking out my book, Kimberly? How’s surfing going this summer?

    • Hey Justin!

      I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t taken surf lessons yet. Boo hoo. There are week-long “surf camps” here that teach the basics of surfing, but the last one of the season is next week and I’m not going to be able to make it, unfortunately. BUT — I have friends of friends who give private lessons, so I might go that route instead. 🙂

      I’d just like to say again how very much I enjoyed your book. I thought, “Why haven’t I ever heard of this guy? He’s a brilliant writer!”

      Anyhoo, thanks so much for stopping by to comment. (By the way, if you want to read another great book about surfing, I just finished William Finnegan’s “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.” Highly recommended.)

      • Thanks for the recommendation; I’ve been meaning to check out William Finnegan’s new book. Also, sorry for the typo in my first message. I meant to follow that first sentence of gratitude with an exclamation point, not a question mark:) Thanks again!

        • Oh gosh, no worries about the typo! But I get it. As a writer, I’m mortified when I make a typo, especially online. 🙂

          Yeah, Finnegan’s book is fantastic. So much so that it almost made me want to give up writing. As in, “Why bother? I could NEVER write anything this good. Sigh.”

          But I get up to fight another day nevertheless, ha ha. 🙂

    • I’m here because my wife – whose art I write blog about – told me that Kimberly’s newsletter is something I should read. (I will.)

      But I also am a lifelong surfer, and I just read the first paragraph of Justin’s book on the Kindle preview, so… yeah. I’ll be back here.

      • Hey there Howard,

        Thanks for stopping by!

        Your wife sounds extremely wise. Tell her I said thanks for the compliment. 😉

        You should definitely get Justin’s book. I raced through it speed-reading style, it was that good.

  2. I know you wrote this a while back but wanted to comment anyway. 🙂 It’s kind of weird, I’m sort of in the exact same situation, but with photography. I am totally fascinated by surfing, watching people ride waves is one of my favorite thrills. And taking pictures of surfers. I’ve only tried it once myself, never managed to stand up but did get the nose of of the board (and myself) under water pretty forcefully several times. 🙂 I’ve stuck to boogie boarding since then, but continue to shoot surfing. Can also completely relate to this: “I’ve been living as if every moment away from work and business – something I’ve been told is called “down time” – was certain to doom me to failure if I indulged in it regularly.” I work (and have worked) 7 days a week, at least 360 days out of the year for many years now. I burn out in regular intervals, have a panic attach, cry for a day or two, and then get back into it. Not the healthiest way to live, probably, but at least I get to work for myself.

    I’m so curious – did you ever write that book? Or is it still a work in progress?

    Thanks for an awesome blog – I need to buckle down one of these days and apply all the great information you share here. 🙂

    • Hi there Cattie,

      Thanks so much for stopping by to comment, and for your kind words about the blog. 🙂

      At least you’ve tried surfing — I’m ashamed to say I still never have! I ended up moving away from the coast of North Carolina a couple years ago, back to the middle part of the state where I’m from and where my family lives. But I still dream of learning to surf, and was just talking to a friend about that very thing the other day. I WILL one day, or die trying, ha ha.

      I hear you about burn out. That kind of describes my last few years, but I’m getting a wee bit better about taking time off. 🙂

      And no, I didn’t write the book — yet — but it’s still on the list. Another thing I’ll do or die trying, lol.

      Take care and try to give yourself some time off!!


  1. […] I would figure out what this book is even going to be, because you know, I know nothing about surfing. […]

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