Words by: Conrad J. Comer
I am an addict. A man driven by a recurring compulsion to engage in a culturally misunderstood activity that contributes no direct benefit to society or myself. Furthermore, I am overtly aware that pursuing this activity will result in harmful consequences to my mental wellbeing, my social interactions, and ultimately my home life. This is the price of addiction.
The more opiate I take, the more I require to feed the hunger. Tolerance to my drug increases with each hit. It’s very simple, the more I have the more I need. I am past a harmless want. The quality of my particular drug varies so wildly it teases me. Every time I take a hit, just after the initial release, there is a moment of deflation. A moment where I am already questioning where I will get a bigger, better, cleaner hit?
I haven’t been a weekend ‘user’ for several years now. My pastime is almost my full time. My living conditions, my career, my friends, are all shaped and manipulated by my drive to get more. I have no handle on this. I am subservient to its will. It has bound me and shackled me. I am not its master; I am its mannequin.
I love my drug. I love it as if it were a new puppy in my arms. I will defend it beyond rational reason and speak passionately of its healing qualities. A clear indication of dependence. For I know what it is doing to me. I justify its every oddity and sympathise with its followers however removed they are from myself. In many respects it has become my religion. Aghast as I am at the horrors of fundamentalism, I try to keep an angle on my dedication to the cause. I play it down in front of non-believers, as they simply wouldn’t understand. I do not pray, or have any shrine towards which I kneel. I have no god to direct my desires to.
My desires are kept in check more by science than faith. Observing meteorological charts and weather systems. By anticipation and calculation. These are my humble devotions. When I go to rest at night, to allow me to sleep I have to visualise being absorbed by my opiate. It calms me. Clearing my thoughts of unwanted clutter. This is the beauty of my drug, my personal relationship with it. The psychological addiction that prevents me from thinking rationally is much the same for those who believe there is a God. It just makes perfect irrational sense.
Surfing is my addiction, my religion and my nemesis. I love it and loathe it, but not in equal measure. It deprives me of time and energy but provides me with unequalled passion and emotional connection. Above all else, it is my therapy for dealing with life. It allows me to live in the present by the requirement of necessity. There is no space for past guilt or future concerns when being consumed by natural perfection. It allows me to be selfish and compassionate simultaneously. For all the things that I fear about this master, like a puppy, I am unconditionally devoted.
Teacher, traveller, writer, surf addict (in descending order), Conrad has had several technical articles published online through his past life as a sport psychology lecturer and bio mechanist via the University of Plymouth, in the UK. He now lives and works in New Zealand where he keeps his habit under control somewhere between the powerful beachies of Piha and long peeling left points of Raglan.