“Why not tennis?” I’m asked, “or golf? Why does it have to be skateboarding?”
Skateboarding is obviously silly. Four wheels, a piece of wood, “tricks”.
There’s nothing serious about it. It’s ridiculous.
And yet if you don’t take it seriously, it will hurt you.
If you’re distracted while skating, you will get hurt. If you hesitate while skating, you will get hurt.
Skateboarding is a joke that requires absolute mental and physical focus.
Utter seriousness in the midst of absurdity.
So: Why do it?
Because life is some really stupid shit.
No one chooses where they are born or into what body. Bad things happen to good people. It all goes to shit.
You’d be a fool to think it’s all meant to be – that anyone deserves their fortune in life.
What skateboarding requires, then, is what life rewards: being carefree and determined; both vulnerable and unafraid.
You must invite your own pain into your life; treat it with curiosity instead of fear.
Because you are always what’s standing in the way of growth.
To learn a new trick you must feel pain.
Over and over again, in new ways. Until you’ve traced the contours of the unknown gesture with your own sweat and blood.
Until you’ve isolated the part of you that has to move in a new way. Change your shadow.
To learn is to to expect pain with open arms.
There you are, old friend! Now we can begin.
The injury to your body, to your ego, reminds you of what the rules of the game are:
You are nothing. The skateboard is all. (The play’s the thing.)
No matter your achievements, your status, your gifts: when you skate, you must fall.
If you don’t fall, you’re not trying. You’re faking it.
Only once you’ve fallen, can you do it with grace.
Every failed attempt succeeds in whittling your consciousness down to size: you are nothing!
Until your ego is small enough to become part of the board.
Until your self disappears.
History is not linear, progress may be a myth. We don’t know. The center cannot hold, yadda yadda yadda.
But here’s something I do know. Learning new tricks is a surefire way to keep falling fun and new tricks is a fun way to keep moving forward, in ever widening gyres.
To grow older, at least. With grace.
In those moments when you succeed at a new trick, you have transferred your will to a tool. A chisel or paintbrush that draws only in time and space.
Skateboarding leaves no worthy artifacts. On the contrary, it removes rather than adds; scrapes, grind marks, scratches.
But like any discipline, skating is ultimately not about mastering the tool but mastering the self.
The more successful the artist, the deeper they have prostrated themselves before their craft.
You cannot win at skateboarding. You will always lose.
You can only get better at playing.