Greetings, faithful readers. No time for pleasantries lets get right to it.
A year ago, I made the fateful decision that taking up skateboarding at the age of 37 would be a good idea. It all started when eight year old Little Mitch got it into his head that he needed to skateboard. Check that, not strong enough. More like my offspring relentlessly dogged me for months to get him a skateboard. Skateboarding was one of those things that I never really considered since childhood. I thought I want to skateboard too, I don’t want to sit there on the sidelines, I want to skate with my kid. After a quick trip to our skateshop we picked out our decks and have not looked back since. We jumped into the deep end of the skatelife and we love it. It’s been a year and I wanted to reflect upon what I’ve learned about myself as I skateboard.
-I should have started this 25 years ago. Now, I mean this a couple of ways. Right from the first time I got on a board and got moving, it just felt good. Good and right. There’s no better feeling than feeling the vibration of the pavement beneath you, the wind in your face, your heart beating rhythmically, the zen feeling of knowing you are in total control of that wood plank beneath you. For me, these things combined with the mental concentration it requires to control the physical aspect and the mental input of constantly scanning for cracks, rocks, branches in the pavement etc. creates a clear place of mental zen for me. Which, when you have bipolar/OCD is extremely rare, my brain literally never shuts up. Comes in handy for pointless pop culture trivia, not so good for long business meetings.
“Remember that episode of Blossom where Six sang Neil Diamond? That was awesome. Oh shit, the boss just asked me what I think of the fall statistics proposal. Six sang “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Oh right, frick I have no idea about the stats, damn it. Now I got that song on a loop in my head all day. Thanks OCD. “
-I should have started this 25 years ago Part II I’m under no delusions that skateboarding is a young mans sport to learn. Little Mitch is a freaking mimic sponge. He can spend all afternoon watching pro skateboarders doing tricks on YouTube and attempt them later at the skatepark with ease. Me? It’s been a year and here is the list of tricks I have on lock.
-Staying on board whilst moving.
-Bombing down a hill.
-Surfing and hard carving.
-Carving a skate bowl.
-Kickturn (which I lost for at least 6 months due to injury, more on this later)
That’s the list of tricks I got on lock. Sure I’d love to grind down a huge eighteen stair set like you see those pros doing on the covers of skate magazines ,but that’s the thing. These guy are pros, as in professional. They’ve been doing this for twenty plus years since they were children, this is what they do day in day out. I think of professional skateboarders as I do professional porno actors. These guys are the elite physical athlete masters of their specialized skill set. Just because they can do that act you’re watching doesn’t mean you should attempt that act before you’re ready. Unless its growing a pornstache, everyone looks great with one of those.
Plus, there’s the risk assessment. Many times I look at a skate line or route and think I could attempt that but I weigh the pros and cons of physical risk first. When you’re fourteen, you break your arm skateboarding, the effect on your life is minimal. Miss a few days of school and get a cool cast for your friends to write on. When you’re thirty seven years old and type for a living to feed your family and pay for your housing and general living a broken arm would impact my life immensely. Which brings me to my next topic.
I should have started this 25 years ago Part III. Don’t get me wrong, skateboarding has become one of my life passions. To be totally honest though, it has a steep learning curve. First lesson of skateboarding should be “You’re going to fall. It will happen. Repeatedly.” Seeing as we have been talking about personal risk, let’s do a retrospective of my injuries the past year. Stop take a minute, and put Skid Row’s classic ballad “I Remember You” on your Ipod for dramatic effect while you read the list.
-Bursitis in both arms.
-Back pain (I think I paid for my chiropractors new BMW this year).
-Too many numerous scrapes and bruises to count.
Was it worth it? HELL YES. I love skateboarding so much, that the pain and the ache doesn’t bother me. Sure, it sucks some mornings crawling out of bed feeling like a I got hit by a Mack truck after hard slamming into the concrete bowl at the skatepark the day before, but I don’t care. Each bang, bruise or strain is a marker on the journey. I’ve had numerous people, friends, family and health care professionals tell me I’m crazy to start skating at my age.
You know what’s crazy to me? Running in place going nowhere on a moving treadmill for a set amount of time. Or lifting a heavy weight up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down again. I would feel like a hamster on a wheel doing those things, not accomplishing anything. To be fair to people who do those activities, I am not criticizing what you do, I’m just stating it’s not for me. I don’t have the luxury of not exercising. I go sedentary and my weight balloons fast, it always has. Plus, when you have bipolar regular exercise helps keep you on an even keel with your symptoms. I really don’t have a choice, I need to exercise, so If I’m going to exercise I might as well do an activity I love.
I’m sure you could read this blog entry and still think why anyone would want to skateboard? Think what you want but the great part of being a thirty seven year old rookie skateboarder is that I’m old enough to know better, old enough to not give a shit what people think, old enough to know that the only person I need to please on my board is myself and old enough to know that I am definitely a better skater than Elvis, Gandhi and Jesus. I really have to evidence to support this claim but I have no evidence to refute it either.
Now, if you’ll excuse me I have a pornstache to grow.