The Wisdom of a Skateboard (revised)
I plant my right foot firmly down on the wooden board. Ahead of me is a long black strip of asphalt jungle stretching as far as the eye can see. Behind me is a complete list of my successes and failures. Although I know I have two legs, I feel my body has grown four wheels. As I kick my left leg forward in anticipation of moving, I wonder where the skateboard will take me next.
I still remember the first time I stood on a skateboard. I was six years old and my older cousins had brought over their old skateboard. The tail was chipping off piece by piece, the graphic on the bottom had been smudged beyond recognition, and the wheels were ridden down to almost nothing. It was beautiful. As I watched my cousins gracefully glide around the driveway, I anticipated my turn to become acquainted with the board. Finally I was up to prove to everyone I was just as good. I instinctively put my right foot in front. They immediately called me goofy and I blushed (later I learned that goofy is my stance and not an insult). Then as soon as my left foot lifted off the ground, the skateboard shot out from under me and the back of my head slammed into the ground. After shedding many tears and getting twenty stitches in the back of my head, I didn’t understand why I still had an insatiable desire to ride.
Three weeks later I was back on the board. I knew I couldn’t give up without a fight. I knew the skateboard still had much to teach me.
I still remember the first time I successfully did an ollie. I was twelve years old and I met my best friend Danny. Danny didn’t live too far from me and the first time we hung out, I convinced him to skateboard as well. Being an “experienced” skateboarder, I felt I could teach him everything I knew. Suddenly, I was faced with the complete opposite. Within a matter of weeks Danny could smoothly ride down any road or terrain. He even could ollie before me. I was red with frustration. I couldn’t help but wonder why he was such a natural and I wasn’t. I couldn’t take it anymore; I had to ollie. I suddenly found myself speeding down a sidewalk in hopes of jumping off the curb. Nevertheless I ollied off the curb successfully, but I was hit by a car in the street. After resetting my left wrist and bandaging my swollen face, I still didn’t understand why I had the insatiable desire to ride.
Two months later I was back on the board. I understood that if I was going to learn a trick, it would take me time.
Now at age nineteen, I believe that skateboarding has changed my life. I believe that I wouldn’t be the persistent person I am today without skateboarding teaching me to never give up and keep trying. Stitches, scars, bruises, broken bones, sprains, scrapes, and cuts could not stop me from attaining a goal or doing the thing I love most. Skateboarding has taught me the virtues of patience and practice, and I am a better person because of it.
I still skate almost everyday. It reminds me of who I am.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.