Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Drop out to Drop in

I just finished the documentary film Surfwise, and I must say, it's probably a good thing I don't surf, because it's hard enough to fight the urge to drop out of society when I do one sport that encourages me to do so; two might be impossible. Also, I learned that if you're going to raise your kids like a pack of wolves/gorillas/hippies, some of your kids will resent you if you don't at least educate them.

The film is about the Paskowitz family, the father of which, Dorian Paskowitz, is a Stanford educated doctor who for a while led a successful normal life, becoming the president of the Hawaiian chapter of the AMA and almost running for governor. But he hit a rough patch and eventually decided to drop out. (Amusingly, after first dropping out, Dorian moved to Israel, came to believe that his first two marriages had failed because he was a lousy lover, decided to sleep with 100 women and rank them on performance, but stopped when he found Juliette, who he thought no one could beat, and they were married. But that's just an example of the guy's unorthodoxy (and why the film is rated R.)) Instead of continuing the grind, he and his new wife had 9 children and raised them in a 24-foot trailer that they drove up and down the coast, surfing every single day, while never going to school and often having only gruel to eat.

The kids are in their 40's now, and the film describes their unusual upbringing as well as their current struggles to fit into regular society. Regardless of whether you like surfing or not, I think the movie is a fascinating look at dropping out, especially dropping out and bringing your kids along for the ride. Some of the kids now resent their dad for not allowing them to go to school and lead a normal suburban existence, some are raising their own children similarly to how they themselves were raised (but allowing their children more choice in the matter).

A few good quotes from the film:
"It's easier to die when you've lived than when you haven't. So I say to all young people, 'go make memories, beautiful memories. When the time comes for you to go, you will not go alone.'"

"That would be a great way to die. To be eaten by a shark. Yep...a big shark."

I have to go write Stata code in my windowless office now. Mostly I want to live in a yurt.

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