When I feel stuck, I think about skateboards and risking for joy
Rear view wisdom is a mixed gift. On the one hand, I have the pleasure of figuring out some of the bigger questions life throws at us. On the other hand, I have to live with the fact that I don’t get a lot of do-overs, and I am just going to have to live with that reality. I have no choice but to make peace with your mistakes, or be miserable. But the things that landed me on my ass aren’t the things I regret. It’s when I opted for standing safe and still…and boring.
As a sixty-something, and a clinical psychologist at that, I’m used to dishing out a lot of worthless advice. Here’s a framework that will guide your priorities, even if you never touch a skateboard.
- When you feel down about your achievements and your future, remember that skateboarding has just become an Olympics event. From my perspective, that is phenomenal. When I was in my teens and twenties, I was fascinated by the evolution that began with crummy contraptions of wood and wheels, with backyard tracks that usually landed you on your ass, and didn’t much beyond that.
- But it grew to the streets, to makeshift courses, to the monumental skills that developed seamlessly among riders as they inhaled each other’s techniques and then elevated them to something more extraordinary. Then came informal and then formal championships. And now, the Olympics.
- Skateboarding demands momentum, the suspension of gravity, throwing your good sense to the winds, and summoning the guts to fly. You’ll discover many situations in your life and loves require the same.
- You have to learn how to take a fall.
- And you really have to learn how to get back up.
- How much do you risk on a day to day basis? Skateboarding is a sport full of screaming broken limbs, heart-stopping crashes and falls. So is life.
- Life is a full contact sport. It requires that we keep extending ourselves, being open to possibilities, in our all aspects of our lives. Even when it scares the crap out of us.
- Change comes in each generation of people who paid attention, who imagined, who took their lumps, who learned from the past generation, and who took the occasional perfect flight. The openness to astonishment makes our lives rich and interesting, even between the soaring moments, and the crushing failures.
- When we look at our thrills, yes, maybe they last only seconds. But “jolts of joy” don’t need to be any longer. When we watch skaters coast and curl, hang upside in an air that gives them no assistance, we can grasp hope for ourselves. Things can change. If we can create joy once, we can do it again. We can even share it.
Where are the places in your life where you can feel truly extraordinary?