I don’t feel like it’s hyperbolic to say that Doc Paskowitz, the main subject of the documentary Surfwise, is a nearly perfect representation of what this blog aims to impart.
Paskowitz was living the American dream, a successful (by all modern definitions) doctor in Hawaii, when he basically made the decision to drop out of society and, after a sabbatical to Israel where he apparently single-handedly started the Tel Aviv surfing scene, took his life on the road with his new wife Juliette.
What followed embodies almost all the ideals I hold highest and would love to see more people buy into, albeit lived out in very different ways than I will ever be able to (read: I can’t surf and don’t want “berries and sticks” for breakfast each day).
Doc and Juliette began their love affair living in a car on the beach, but soon they were pregnant and moved up into an RV. It was the early 60s and they were so countercultural that it’s almost hard to envision where their ideas came from. This was “before Jack Kerouac went on the road,” as the trailer points out.
Living in a 24-foot motorhome, they proceeded to have nine children (all of whom were breastfed for at least two years, because, as Doc implored Juliette, “No child of mine will have any less than a gorilla.”). No, they never did move into a bigger RV, let alone a house. They travelled all around the US and Mexico, surfing every day, eating simply and wholesomely (except for those times when they went hungry for lack of cash), and never receiving a lick of conventional education.
It’s not the specifics that I aspire to. It’s Doc’s realization that we don’t have to adopt any convention thrust upon us by our culture. Though some of his thinking was likely flawed and some of his methods may have backfired (though this is arguable as his family is at least as, if not more, successful and happy as your average North American family), his convictions to keep his children close; raise them to appreciate the beauty of the earth and to have personal discipline; put his family before all else; and to be successful in his marriage (via good sex — his thoughts on this are amusing to witness) are inspiring.
This is my favourite documentary, and I’ve seen a lot of really amazing documentaries. If you homeschool or unschool your children; come from or have created a large family; live on the road or wish to; or dream of divesting from modern society, it will appeal to your imagination.
It’s hard to find, but is available on American Netflix, as well as American iTunes and Amazon (.com and .ca). You can also check your local library!