SOLO ACT: THE INDEPENDENCE DAYS OF PHILIP DUKE



No fourteen-year-old boy escapes teenhood without a keen awareness of exactly how the world sees him, what it expects of him. He knows the weight of the world’s desire down to the ounce. Every day is of ferocious importance. Particularly to Philip Duke. He has a lot to prove. But he’s given up on proving it to others. They have all been too mean hearted. It’s all about himself now. Proving to himself that they are all wrong. And this takes a supreme effort. A focus. An isolation. An aloneness. An advanced sense of self. Even a coldness. After all, in his teen world, so much of it has been so cold to him. The ridicule, the jokes, the snide remarks, the deeply hurtful ones. And not only has he had to hear them, but he has had to take it.



Still waiting for a life changing growth spurt at fourteen, still wanting to look his peers in the eyes without looking up, still waiting to be on a level playing field with girls, still waiting, he has suffered the ignorance of others. That meanness in this world. His physical size a constant and obvious issue. It is to any teen. But all those vicious peer judgements have been so brutal. Like running across a no man’s land of criticism while dodging the cheap shots the best you can. Hoping against hope that if others cannot help, then at least they could not hurt. Wishful thinking indeed. But so it goes in teenhood. The merciless test of not only how you take criticism, but how much.



It takes so much courage to attempt to grow up and become who you really dream you are. So as good a surfer as Philip Duke is, and as good as he wants to be, and as far as he is willing to go, there is no room for doubt. And arrogance becomes an asset. But the genius of Philip Duke, and it really is a genius, are the ramparts he has built around himself while he deals with it all. Cocksure, he is imposing his will upon this world. With unquestioned bravery in the surf and growing in skill daily, he has become a badass in any line-up. An accomplished and ranked boxer, he can kick the ass of anyone twice his size. And he has. Not afraid of being alone and away from the punishing ridicule, he often fills his days with his own joys and adventures, all alone. He knows his day will come. With golden sponsorship from Rip Curl and… LOST and a pocketful of trophies and international surf trips in the rear view mirror, it’s already halfway done.



He knows that his youth is not a time of life, it’s a state of mind. He knows that if you have a why in life than you can handle how. He has proven this to himself with his surfing and his winning and his focus on his upcoming glories. He has no interest in finding himself, he’s focused on creating himself. Focused to the marrow. With the lessons he has already learned about human nature, telling Philip Duke the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath. Why bother? Nobody understands 14-year-olds. Not even fourteen olds. But this kid does. He’s had to. Both the bad and the good. That’s teenhood for you. Like living in a zoo in the jungle. And enemies? Good. At least he knows he stands for something. And stands up to it. To hell with personal feelings, Philip Duke is about survival. And there it is. Life is hard, they say. Yeah? Says Philip Duke, compared to what?

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