Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Mind" -> The Disturbing Surfwise

Doc Paskowitz and his family is the subject of a fascinating documentary called Surfwise. This documentary is available on Netflix direct streaming, and if you don't want to deal with spoilers, I suggest that you see the film then read the rest of the post. For those that don't mind a bit of revelation, you can read the following:

Doc, as everybody seems to call him, was a medical doctor that got his degree from Stanford. He was pursuing a very successful career, when he started to experience panic attacks. Because of this, he flipped out. He basically walked away from it all, and decided to start surfing. Through a series of adventures, he eventually meets his third wife. One of the main points of this relationship was a very robust sex life. From here, he plotted a life that is far different than any that I have heard before.

His wife and he started to have a family. A big family. 9 children with 8 boys and 1 daughter. Rather than living a normal life, he placed all nine children into a very small trailer, then started to drive all of North America and some of of South America. He would go every where with his family and they would surf. With hardly a penny to their name, he considered it a great adventure for the family.

The father was a dictator. He insisted that all of the children surfed. However, all of the children learned to love the sport. However, he also decided that sugar was absolutely horrible. Their main staple in the morning consisted of some type of feed that Doc would buy for them. It was unclear exactly where this feed came from. One of the brother on NPR stated that the children thought that it might have been horse feed or bird feed. For dinner, they would have some type of soup or beans.

One doesn't have 9 children without having sex. And in the movie all the children seemed to hate the fact that their parents would have loud sex all of the time. After all, there was 11 of them in and extremely small trailer, and everyone could see what was happening every night.

Doc declared that there was knowledge and there was wisdom. Sending children to school only gave knowledge and no wisdom. Therefore, none of the children went to school. There is a particularly heart melting scene when one of the children describes the fact that his desire to go into medicine was crush when he found out that he was so far behind that he could never get a regular college degree. He would never be a doctor.

This is not to say that the children were dumb. They read a lot, even if they didn't do much math. Opera was played all of the time, and several of the children went into music later in life.

When the children was in the family with the iron dictator running the trailer, everything was happy. The main issue is that having an iron hand from somebody else on your life only creates children that had no ability to govern themselves.  Eventually, the children decided that they had enough, and one by one they all left the circle that they stood in.  As they left the family, they really left the family.  While some of them were a little closer than others, the film basically shows that the family had been in each other's way for so many years that they could no longer stand to be intimate any more.

I think we have all been tempted to leave our current life behind us. We desire to leave the pressure of our lives behind, and take off in a trailer to live our own life. This film is highly instrumental in showing the pleasure and the price for living this type of life.  Children leave the family social structure never to return, and at best they can be called quirky.  At worse, they can be called highly disfuntional.

What is my take away from the film is that living the free life messes you up. Responsibility is not something to flee from, but something to be embraced. Keeping your children separated from the world is not to say that they will be safe from the world.

Hebrew's 12 tells us

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Your children deserve to be treated with love and respect. Sometimes this means that you need to get them to do their school work, and clean their rooms. But this film shows that their is a limit to how hard to push. You cannot make your children into your own image.  You cannot ask them to turn their back on the world.  What we must do is teach our children how to stand in the world.

Moderation is a virtue. We should all experience more of it.

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