Dusty Payne loving life after the World Tour in Puerto Rico; photo by Brent Bielmann/Surfing magazine

Dusty Payne loving life after the World Tour in Puerto Rico; photo by Brent Bielmann/Surfing magazine

Sometimes it takes something being taken away from you to realize just how much you love it. Case in point: Maui pro surfer Dusty Payne. After a few injury-plagued years on the ASP World Championship Tour, Payne fell off after not making the cut at the end of the 2013 season. While his talent was never in question, his attitude and dedication were. But in the spirit of "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade," Payne got healthy, realized just how good he has it, and is now surfing better than ever (albeit not on the WCT). We caught up with Payne hours before he boarded a flight to the far reaches of Indonesia.

Yeah, he's got it pretty good—and, more importantly, realizes that.

2 days from Dusty Payne on Vimeo.

Puerto Rico, Boston, Mexico, now Indonesia. From the looks of your Instagram account, you've been busy and traveling to places you normally wouldn't be able to.
I go to Mexico a fair bit, but I'd only been to Puerto Rico during a contest a few years ago. [Puerto Rico] was such a cool place; I love the vibe. I had a really good time hanging out with Tothy [Brian Toth], Alejandro Moreda, Dylan Graves; those guys are so rad!

That's not a trip you could do while on the World Championship Tour, right?
That's right. People ask me what I'm doing and I tell them I'm a drifter. It's so fun; I'm starting to really love what I'm doing.

How did falling off the World Championship Tour affect you?
When it first happened I was really frustrated, you know? Things didn't go good for me on Tour at all. At first I was really frustrated and pissed off, but soon after that I was relieved. I felt like I needed the time off from the Tour just to, like, gather myself and get back to what I know I can do.

Judging by recent videos, you seem to be surfing as well, if not better, than ever before.
Yeah, I think so too. I've grown and am a lot more stoked than before. I felt like I was taking what I did for granted and I didn't really have too good of an attitude.

Like, show up to the contest, go through the motions, and repeat?
Yeah, I'd show up to an event, surf two heats, and go home. I was traveling around the world and didn't even feel like I was surfing. I'd go somewhere, kook out for an hour in two 30-minute heats, and go home.

Are you chasing points on the World Qualifying Series or going the freesurfer route?
For now, my plan is to keep my WQS seed, do a couple of events, and just enjoy it and be really thankful for what I've been given.

You've had a series of injuries in the past. Are you 100 percent now? What are you doing to stay in shape and injury free?
Yeah, last year I tore my MCL [medial collateral ligament] and strained my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament, both in the knee]. The year before that it was my ankle. But now I'm feeling 100 percent, better than ever. I've been working out a lot, doing CrossFit, and just feeling really good.

Dusty Payne doesn't blog, brag, or boast about it, but his work with kids who have diabetes should be commended. Screen grab from video

Dusty Payne doesn’t blog, brag, or boast about it, but his work with kids who have diabetes should be commended. Screen grab from video

Tell us about your work with kids who have diabetes like yourself.
For a lot of kids, their parents put a lot of restrictions on them just because they have diabetes. Basically I just wanted to give them a day where they can forget about their struggles with diabetes and just go out and live a fun-filled life. I was just trying to give back and help those kids out. The things you have to do to deal with diabetes are a minor price to pay to keep living, you know? Everyone has their own struggles, and diabetes is just something you have to manage. If you're on top of it, life is all good!

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