This short documentary is about a 49 year-old surfer with autism named Curt Harper, who I am proud to say is my cousin. Everything you need to know about happiness can be found in these 17 beautiful minutes.
If you focus on what’s wrong with you, your relationships and your circumstances, you will be constantly frustrated, jealous and stressed. If, however, you accept what is and embrace the life and people you love with all you have, you’ll be deeply fulfilled.
The doctor who diagnosed Curt when he was 2 years-old told his parents, “you will have to institutionalize him.” Alex and Fielden responded with “I’ll be goddamned” if we do that. Forty seven years later, thanks to his loving family and his own approach to life, Curt is living deeply and is a beloved part of the Southern California surf scene. I’ll leave the film to give the complete portrait, or you can read about Curt in this article on Surfline.com: Influencers: Curt Harper
We all have autism, at least in the figurative sense. We, and the circumstances of our lives, deviate from our perfect ideal. And so we compulsively obsess about our inabilities, our imperfections and life’s inconveniences. But, rather than lamenting what is, we could be embracing the activities and the people we love. Curt unabashedly loves surfing, trains and the police force. He’s friends with surfers across the world, in his hometown Los Angeles, in Hawaii where he travels yearly to surf and in Costa Rica. He and his family are loving and tight knit.
We know from Positive Psychology that fulfillment is a result of our experiences, not our characteristics. People who report being deeply satisfied with their lives are united in their frequent experiences of pleasant mood, meaning and engagement. Rather than focus on what he wasn’t or what he couldn’t do, Curt accepted that which he couldn’t change and has gone about having those pleasant, engaging and meaningful experiences with abandon.
If you’re looking for a hero, who can show you the way to a richer life, look no further than Curt.
For consideration: What is your autism? What about yourself can you just forgive and let go? What is your surfing? What experiences do you find pleasant, meaningful and engaging? Do them more.
“Phil Edwards once said that the best surfer in the water is the one that is having the most fun. By that standard, Curt is clearly one of the very best. I feel very lucky to learn from and to know Curt.” (Surfline)
“I’d never heard of Curt Harper until I watched this short film. By the end of it, he’d become my favorite surfer. Curt is one of the most touching, rewarding films you’ll see in years. It tells the story of Curt Harper, a 49-year-old surfer who’s grown up with the challenges of autism, and who’s befriended seemingly the entire Southern Californian surf community along the way. We’re claiming Curt as a surf legend, without a doubt.” (Surfer)