Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lessons from the skatepark

Since it's been so nice out these days, I have been spending more time in my outdoor office. Here are some of my reflections on my time there...

1. The older you get, the harder it is to learn new tricks.

At first I did my typical, thoughtless routine- skate around the park like I'm catching a good surf, occasionally busting a Japan air out of the quarter pipe (see pic below). But today I got fed up with my 31 year old ways. I was ready to go back to the days of 6th grade, where I would sit at my desk inventing new tricks during Mr. Wheritt's math lesson. Indeed, I would go straight from school to the skate park to learn them. Everyday I learned something new. But for the most part, I've been doing the same tricks I've done for the last 5+ years. But today, I learned a new trick- a 50-50 ollie shuv-it! Old people can learn new tricks- they just have to go out on a limb and break the comfortable, everyday routine of cruising through a risk-free, unexamined life (which Socrates says is not worth living). However, my risks are a little safer at the skate park these days.

2. We cannot live the life God designed for us without community

The skate park is not as fun when you're all by yourself. The park just isn't as cool without the preteen boys watching in awe, "Wow, that old guy with the red helmet is good." Granted, for the purpose of impressing others, pride wants community, too. But as part of our design, God wired us to live in community, as a way of completing our joy. I've recently written other thoughts on this (click here).

But the thing about the skate park- it's not merely a park, it's a community. It's an ethos. A culture. An identity. That's why people go. Sure they go to learn their tricks so their peers will tap their boards (a form of skating applause) for them. But more deeply, it's a place where people can be accepted. It's a sort of 13 year old version of "Cheers." You know the characters. I see them every time I go. The disturbing thing is, over the 9 (?) years I've been going, I've seen more and more younger kids smoking, doing drugs, etc. It happens to be a haven for the most insecure kids on earth. Why is acceptance is easier to get with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth and an attitude to go with it?

Either way, in 8 years I don't think I'll let my teenage boys go there unsupervised. Easy for me to say...I'll be looking for an excuse to get to the park. But I can't say skate boarding is something I want my kids to do (or rather, become).

3. The more kids you have, the less time there is for pursuing your hobbies

Often kids at the park will ask me, "Where have you been? We haven't seen you in awhile." Two reasons: not enough time, and I'm trying to give my wrists, hips, and ankles time to heal from previous skating wear and tear.

But all in all, trading my hobbies for family is a trade I'll take any day! As you can see from reading this blog, there are three main things I enjoy in life: God, Leatha, and my kids.

No comments: