Skateboarding: Overcoming Fear
As a kid, I was taught, whether intentionally or unintentionally, directly or indirectly, that skateboarding was for punks.
You know, the kids who wore Vans and baggy jeans and backwards hats, breaking all the rules in public parks and parking lots, skating over benches and hand railings.
I was a straight-laced rule follower, who didn't skip school, didn't smoke cigarettes, nor any of the other stereotypical "negative" things skaters did. I wanted to be a good kid, so I avoided becoming a skater. Plus, I considered the only way to demonstrate and prove one's athleticism was on a field, playing ball sports. To me, being an athlete was tied in importance with my scholastic endeavors. Skateboarding was anything but a sport.
As I got older and more competitive in my athletics, my disinterest in skateboarding was less about avoiding becoming a punk and more about fearing injury. My soccer and ice hockey coaches, during off season and school breaks, would warn: "Don't you dare do anything that'll break bones!" So I often choose not to snowboard or ski and I especially never skateboarded. In fact, I became scared of it. It looked fun, but when I'd step on a board, I felt uneasy, unsure how to move as effortlessly as I did playing every other sport and activity. That uncertainty seamlessly followed me into adulthood.
But then I moved to California, primarily to live by the ocean and learn to surf. I've spent this past year getting an education in the ocean. Learning how it moves, breathes, pulsates. Learning how artful surfing can be, watching others use their boards to make love to the waves, and then practicing those moves myself. So I too can caress my board against plump waves that are sometimes glassy, sometimes choppy, but always eager to please.
For months now, I've been saying I want to learn how to skateboard. I know it'll help my surfing tremendously, cutting and balancing better. I daydream about it, I plan for it, but then I do nothing. That's not me. As my mom says, "If you want to do something, Sabrina, you do it and get it done."
And she's right.
I realized it's fear that's been holding me back. Fear of eating it, hard, on concrete that doesn't give and threatens pain and injury that would limit my activity level. Possibly, it's even fear of not being good at it.
I sometimes get scared while surfing, watching waves grow in force, pummeling my body, throwing me around. Yet I face it--I think because the water is a bit forgiving.
After catching my first wave this past summer and getting "the stoke" as a fellow surfer said he saw flash across my face, a certain dumbfounded grin flash across my face, I quickly started connecting with the ocean in a new way. I started understanding how my movements and placement in the water affected my ability to surf. I quickly realized how artful surfing is, requiring finesse, a dance of sorts with the ocean.
And gradually, as I became more comfortable on my board, I started seeing a parallel between surfing and skateboarding as I never had before. I began studying skateboarders riding along the open roads in my neighborhood, tilting back and forth, a freedom in their movements. Now I appreciate their skill and fearlessness needed to glide along effortlessly. There is nothing "punk" about it.
In the same way I try making love to the waves, skaters make love to the streets. They connect with the earth and their bodies. And this is exactly of what I need more.
So here it goes...with my rollerskating wrist guards on!
What do you want to learn and do that makes you fearful? Get out and do it already!