Today, as I do everyday, I pulled my skateboard and spare shoes out of the boot of my car for a skate after work. The site has a plethora of brilliant skate spots, and it feels great to work up a sweat and get some fresh air in my lungs after a long day in the laboratory.
But today I want to talk about one aspect of skateboarding in particular: falling. For a long time I haven’t fallen off my board – not because I am brilliant, but because I had stopped pushing myself. When you do the same few tricks enough you both land them more consistently and learn how to land on your feet (once sufficiently familiar with a trick you can feel when a trick isn’t quite right and can kick the board away in time to land safely).
Having recently received official confirmation that I’ll be graduating my Master’s degree with a distinction, starting a new job, and with my first serious solo EP coming along nicely, my confidence is at an all time high. As a result, I am throwing myself at new tricks like never before. And honestly I have never had more fun on a board. The only downside to this approach to skating is that following a fairly lengthy hiatus (since bailing to avoid a bus when bombing down a road a couple of years ago) I have had a few proper slams again. In fact I did just that both yesterday and today.
Yesterday was rainy and wet, and an under-rotated hardflip put me on my back after landing “primo” (with the board on its side), whereas today I simply misjudged a backside 50-50 on a ledge and before I knew it was on the ground again. Falling is inevitable if you push your limits. Sometimes it pays to take the leap and commit, and sometimes you end up on the ground, but crucially you are still progressing and moving forward; sometimes knowing what went wrong leading to a crash leads to a breakthrough realisation that helps you figure out how to land a trick better than you ever could have worked out if it weren’t for that lesson, courtesy of the school of hard knocks.
And that’s just life. Of course, you could never try anything at all and therefore never fail, but what satisfaction would that bring? Whatever you do, whatever your dream, stick at it and work as hard as you can. If you should fall, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes, and get back at it like never before.
I’m everything that you thought, ’cause I’m everything that you’re not.
Where did it come from? What does it mean?
The line is from the song “Stubborn Love” by Seaway, a Canadian band I’ve been listening to since discovering their music sometime during my first year of university, around four years ago. As for what it means, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the band, but the beauty of music is that it invites everyone to interpret it in their own way. This is what it means to me.
First, a little context: I began this blog shortly after the end of a six year relationship, following which this song (already a favourite from their best album – in my opinion, anyway – Colour Blind) took on a new meaning. I have always liked how the song is energetic despite tackling complex emotional content, but it is how the lyrics capture the topsy-turvy roller coaster of emotion that I have been through following the break up that has given the song such significance during my healing process. One such example is the contrast between the chorus line “Cause tonight your hair falls around your ears / And it makes me want to stay”, later inverted upon its final repetition; “But tonight your hair falls around your ears / And it makes me want to leave“.
But it’s the line that I took inspiration for the blog’s name and tagline from that touched me most deeply; my ex and I always seemed to be opposites in most ways, and yet so compatible. It could have been easy to fall into a pattern of thinking in which I saw myself as no longer whole, or broken, but this line always reminds me to never forget the things I have to be proud of and love about myself – not only my strengths, but also the positive things that I brought to the relationship – instead of only focusing on what I’ve lost.
And so, that simple line became my personal mantra at my lowest moments; for I lost someone special and unique, but so did she.
In some ways, the story behind my new skateboard set up seems a good analogy for life.
The build itself started when I ordered a spare blank deck (I love its simplicity and cleanness), and, either by placing my order carelessly or an error on the website’s end, instead of receiving a deck my usual 7.75 inches wide, I received an 8.25. I realise this may sound like nothing to a non-skater, but it does make a significant difference. I have no hardware suitable for this wide a deck, but instead of sending it back I took my/their mistake as an opportunity to experiment and try something new! That same morning I ordered new 5.5 inch trucks to match the deck’s width, and thought that while I was at it I’d order some 56mm A-cut wheels (monstrously enormous compared to the 50mms on my current deck).
In fact, I didn’t stop there, ordering new bearings and bolts too, to commit fully to an entirely new build. The truth is, as with many things in life, I had become very comfortable with my set up; I have been riding the same trucks for the last 6 years, the wheels for the last ten, and – whilst the boards themselves wear out and break – I have exclusively ridden 7.75s as long as I can remember (excluding one 8 inch early on that was too big for me, and a 7.5 years later that by then was far too small). Maybe I’ll love the new set up, and maybe I’ll hate it. But at least I’ll know, and I’ll have learnt something from the experience.
And this is true of all facets of life – leaving one’s comfort zone is a risk: maybe things will improve as a result, and maybe they won’t. Sometimes we may choose to leave that comfort zone, but too often we will choose the opposite, and it takes a mistake, surprise, or just dumb luck to force us out. Of course, a new skateboard set up is inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but when changes in life are more significant there is also inevitably also more to be gained. After all, you have to move to move forward.
When life gives you lemons…
This morning the sun came out, and it even stayed dry. England hasn’t seen this bright a day for a long time, so obviously I headed out to the local skatepark to make the most of the weather. The photograph with this post is actually from around a month ago – I forgot my tripod today so couldn’t get a good photo – and unfortunately doesn’t nearly do today’s weather justice (though it was taken at the same skatepark, if nothing else!).
Today’s efforts were mostly focused on manual pad, ledge, and rail tricks, and I had one of those sessions where things seem to just work – the cherry on top of an already glorious morning. The park wasn’t completely deserted either for a change (though the others there were riding scooters, but you can’t always have it all). The only negative this morning was that I had intended on trying to fastplant over the larger ledge from the manny pad (which I have always thought would look awesome), but completely forgot once I was at the park. But there’s always tomorrow…
The session’s highlight came in the form of an epiphany on my skate home. I realised the only difference between today and any other of late is that the skies were clearer than they have been for a while: I had nothing special planned for the day; temperatures have actually continued to drop, despite the brightness of the day; and there were more job applications waiting to be done when I got home. It occurred to me that I had essentially chosen to be happy, and justified it with a minuscule factor that is completely out of my control anyway. But there needn’t be a justification for feeling good, and I have vowed from now on to cut out the middleman and choose to be happy just because.
After all, nothing makes a day good like having a good day.