This week has been pretty stressful, and so far we’re only on Wednesday morning. Due to events outside my control my life was spiraling around me and seemed to be nothing more than a chaotic mess. I used skateboarding as a way to remove myself from this cycle.
I have on Monday night and Tuesday evening used skateboarding to escape from my issues and live in the moment. Both nights have led to simple breakthroughs that increased my mood and in one case caused more joy than I can remember experiencing in a while.
I was feeling as if I was losing touch with the world and everything that was happening on Monday. My life was happening, and I was there, but I definitely was not participating. As is usual I retreated into my head. My sister kindly pointed out that I was talking to myself, always a great sign.
I took myself and my Moonshine board to the skatepark. It was dark, and everyone was leaving. For me this was great. It gave me the place to myself. I had the cloud of social anxiety start to flare up but as I could see everyone leaving my wanting to turn and leave feelings started to decrease.
The world around me
I was at the skatepark, a skatepark I’ve been to countless times before, but it felt new. I allowed my senses to take everything in. Looking at the way the park was bathed in a sickly glow form the lights. The quarter moon was peaking out behind the clouds.
There was no sound except for some girls on the swings beside the skatepark. I couldn’t see them, I could only hear their disembodied voices. The wheels on my board were soft on the concrete of the park. The wheels were almost silent as we rolled across the park.
They felt as if they were gliding. I could feel the tightness of the trucks. They would take an effort to turn. I was looking at the ground and seeing new and interesting shapes come to light before my eyes.
In the moment
I started to skate. At every moment I was conscious where I was putting my feet. What was the reaction, should I move my foot a few mm that way and see what happens. I was paying more attention than I ever have to what I was doing.
I could feel exactly where my feet were on the rails. I was paying attention to how the nose and tail felt as I moved my feet along. I was being mindful and it was prehaps making me a better skater.
I messed around with manuals. I started to work on foot position for nose manuals. I moved my toes and foot position a few mm back. I leaned forward. The nose hovered just above the ground. I was rolling, my legs started to move in time with my wheels, my back foot correting any mistakes subtely, pushing me further along. I crossed the whole flat of the skatepark.
The joy was immense. It was something I had tried forever and tonight when I was at my most stressed, I had come out and concentrated. Breaking down all the small moments and creating one big new moment. I had managed something I never thought I would have.
Tuesday was less stressful, probably because less ambulances were involved. I was still going through a retreat into my head. I again headed to the skatepark. There was a crowd there this time, for some reason I took my big board, I was feeling some shame about my freestyle board.
This shame will all be imagined and stems from my youth skateboarding when freestyle was looked down on. I guess it still is and in some way, I wanted to fit in, feel less of a freak. I’m not saying that these feelings are right, it was just how I was on Tuesday.
I have talked before about my anxiety about skating transitions. It was something I loved, and now it just gives me a vast existential fear. The fear is made worse by the fact I know I can do what I’m scared of.
Well, on Tuesday I skated the bowl. There was no fear, no hesitation. I dropped in, felt the moment of weightlessness. Felt as my body moved my weight round. Felt the tightness of that first frontside carve, then the sheer unadulterated joy of big backside carve around the bowl.
Every time I dropped in, I went faster. Living in the exhilaration of the speed. Carving to the top of the clamshell extension. Racing back across to the next wall, carving and turning up into full length backside 50-50s. Then feebles and finally a backside smith along the whole length.
I could feel where my front foot was, the extension of my front leg, my back foot on its toes holding the truck on the coping. The pop back in was amazing. It was as if all my demons had been evaporated. Riding back across the flat bottom I let out a yell.
I was exhilarated. The youngsters that had seen my triumph. My joy was overflowing, the adrenaline was kicking. This is why I skateboard. I was pushing my limits again, and it felt amazing.
It was time to hit the clamshell and 5-0 it. It took work, possibly ridding 50mm wheels on big transition was a mistake. I was getting closer. Finally, I scratched a 5-0, the problem was the fear kicked in on the runout and I bailed.
I bailed a trick I had for all intents and purposes made. Its a problem many skaters will have faced. We make a trick but our brain didn’t quite believe it, and we bail. I took this as my sign to leave. I had the glory of my back smith and now I know I can grind the clam.
I lived in the moment and gave myself moments to remember.