Editor’s Note: Last Friday night I got emotional. I was watching recaps of what happened in the world that week and a lot had happened. Part of me was on the verge of tears watching young people, you, the youth, standing toe-to-toe with politicians and paid speakers and paid pros for the NRA, and I saw you standing there scarred and raw with grief…and you were fighting back. Against all odds. Against it all. Demanding action. Action that could have had an impact on saving 17 of your classmates from being destroyed by an automatic weapon. This is what we’re talking about in America right now? Yes. It is. I immediately thought of ideas and ways we can help here, and was reminded of the intro to What Youth Issue 15, which has become a bit of a kick in the ass when all seems lost, week after week. Even though sometimes it feels like it’s for nothing, we gotta keep raging against the machine. Over and over and over again. Read the below, and stay at it. We are.—Travis
PS: We’ll be surfing before you know it, but this is important too.
For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself.
There are heavily armed soldiers on quiet street corners in Paris. Back home grandma worries. Mom too. And I can’t blame them. Sitting here we’re just as safe as we are in danger. You always are, I suppose. And I think you have to remember that. Because I almost did something this month that I’ve never done: cancel a trip because of the news. Because of fear.
Should I stay or should I go now?
Even simple things feel more complicated now. And I know there have always been these horrors and fears in various manifestations. Political. Terror. Nature. Fire. Flood. Cleanup set. Plane crash. Ignorance. Hate. Donald Trump. Zika. Guns. But this marks the first time in my life I almost did something that goes against who we are and nearly pulled the plug on something I’ve always found as simple as breathing; all on account of a too mad world. I almost chose the couch over the dimly lit Parisian street corner because it was “safer.” Because the pressure was too real. And people were worried and “would understand if we didn’t go.”
And what was so important that we had to go anyway? Well, nothing. We wanted to sip wine, watch people, listen to rain, fumble with foreign language…exist. This wasn’t even our usual wild jaunt to Indo to ride heavy waves above sharp coral reef in a tsunami hot spot or explore inside a war-torn country that gave me pause. This was much simpler. But somehow felt heavier. Riskier. And I’ve come to loathe the fact that I slipped into this thinking long enough to consider something as reckless as cancelling. But we didn’t. We went.
There was a book that found its way into my hands this month too, just some old Hunter S. Thompson stories. Kingdom of Fear. And I found myself reading stories that dated back to the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s. Magazine articles he wrote, that if the names and some dates changed, could very well be written about circumstances today. At home. Abroad. Horror, corruption and terror everywhere. For a minute there I was overcome with a sadness, thinking that if greats like Hunter can’t break through this shitstorm, what/who will? Why are we still fighting such similar battles? I sunk in my chair, wondering if it was worth the fight. Worth the typing. Worth all the noise, the rock ‘n’ roll. Worth the ink. But then I thought: what if Hunter S. Thompson didn’t rage against the machine as hard as he did? What if we all cancelled? Quit writing? Quit challenging? Quit pushing back?
I’m very aware that we seem to be yelling about the same things now as we did then, and that’s scary too. Big and small. Fear and terror and war and surfing in the Olympics and cigarette smoking and nudity and a conservative culture. And it’s easier to be scared sometimes because it’s harder to make eye contact with people. Harder to connect. Harder to find time to fight and fuck and surf and travel and hug. But the real fear should be what happens when we do quit? When you do stay home? When we do cancel? Then what? Does The Inertia win? Do we live under a Trump regime? Do we buckle the chinstrap on the gas mask and pretend that it’s OK? Do we not say hi to the beautiful woman across the room because we never even make it in the room? Does fear win? And do we all go back to our oatmeal and comfortable couches? Sometimes that’s the safest thing to do, but it’s also the most similar to the graveyard.
But the answer is no. Of course it is. And you know that. We don’t cancel. We keep pushing. We go. We write. And we sit and watch the rain in France. We read Hunter and follow his lead. We don’t pull back. We sand our skin down on coral. We wake up still in our shoes, in the sand next to the smoldering coals from last night’s fire. We fight and fuck and travel and learn and write and take more photos. And we’ll meet you for that glass of wine in Paris. And we’ll go down with any ship we set sail in.—Travis