USA Today ran a feature piece recently on professional surfer Clay Marzo, who has Asperger's syndrome. It's a fascinating profile of an incredibly physically and artistically gifted young man. While having difficulty with social interactions, media interviews and the like, he can be incredibly focused in the water, logging more hours surfing than many of his competitors, getting better -- rather than more tired -- as the day goes on. He scores fabulously in competitions when he wants to, but sometimes doesn't because he doesn't particularly want to play by the same rules as his competitors. Rather than waiting for waves that make it easy to show off certain skills, as the article notes, Marzo believes "there's merit in every wave." And so, like a sculptor seeing what the block of marble wants to be, Marzo rides the wave for what it is.
Reading the article, it becomes clear that this young man's brain is just wired differently -- but fortunately, there seems to be a place in this world for such a different brain. As Jamie Tierney, who directed a film about Marzo called Just Add Water, says, "Let's talk about Asperger's but not as disease or a disability. Clay is so good because he has Asperger's, not in spite of it. His level of focus in the wave is incredible, he makes instant natural connections with the water, something very few people have."