Saturday, February 19, 2011

Life Lessons From a Skateboard

There is something magic in a clear, cool night.
Tonight is one of my favorite kinds of nights- clear and starry with a brilliant moon. Cool enough for a woolly cardigan and mitts and that satisfying smell of woodsmoke. There's something about the woodsmoke that ties it all together. Walking out in it, it's impossible to think about anything unpleasant.
So I was quite cheerful tonight when I had to walk over to my job to spend an hour or so tying up a couple of loose ends. My mind was rambling over a wide array of random thoughts- a pair of socks I'm knitting for someone, the nice long, juicy conversation I'd just had on the phone with my brother who is still reveling in plenty of lovely snow in New Hampshire, the cool new market I found that had awesome and crazy organic everything and bulk bins....BULK BINS!
On the way home I had the added satisfaction of knowing I had things set up for Monday and I was ready to go home, maybe tidy a bit and work on that sock.
Passing the local skateboard shop, I stopped briefly to admire a pair of shoes in the window and my wandering mind again shifted gears.
I remembered a brief period in maybe '85 or 6 when my brother had a skateboard. Outside our Aunt Judy's house I watched as he did a few laps and thought to myself, "Whoa! I wanna try!"
He seemed a bit nervous as he handed me the skateboard and warned me that it wasn't as easy as it looked.
Ten seconds later, dazed and sprawled on the sidewalk I thought to myself, "I am NEVER doing that again".
My thoughts then transitioned seamlessly to a day when I was at the home of a dear friend about seven years ago getting ready for a Blink 182 concert. I was going through her selection of T Shirts looking for something to wear and a noticed a new one. It was a pink BAM shirt. She explained to me that she bought it because she was interested in a guy who skated, and so she and another of our friends had been hanging out the skate park and she wanted to look legit. A newlywed at the time, I sagely shook my head and chuckled as I chose a bright yellow T Shirt advertising Beggin' Strips Brand Dog Treats.
My friend had two brothers, both passionate skaters, but she had never learned herself. The other friend, however, did. My thoughts roamed over an array of bruises and cuts that she had proudly showed me, I smiled as I listened to the voice of my memory repeat her exciting play by plays of how she got each one.
And then something occurred to me. A thought came into my mind that I focused on, a connection between the two stories.
We both fell, but only one of us got back on the board.
I thought of all the friends I have ever known who skated and the kids in the neighborhood who are out each day, their faces set with determination as they hone an old skill or perfect a new technique, driven like they are driven in no other element in their lives...and I discover that I really respect them.
They accept falling down and getting hurt as part of the deal. They get back up. No matter how many times it takes. That is why my friend sounded so excited as she talked about her scrapes and bruises. They did not deter her from her goal of learning how to do trick A,B or C.
What a wonderful lesson there is in that. Sometimes in life, the rug gets pulled from under your feet. It's a fact or life. We all get hurt. Sometimes it's a minor scrape and sometimes it's a bit more complicated than that. I have found that there is real joy in accepting, learning, and trying again.
Maybe you'll see me rolling by on a sweet board sometime.
Or not.

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