i watched shaun white win his gold medal on the halfpipe at the winter olympics in nagano. he looked like he was having so much fun! he was always laughing and joking around, even during the stiffest competition of his life.
i was 39, and i was tired. i had spent my whole life working 60-80 hours a week, volunteering in my off time, and raising a kid. i rarely laughed, and i yelled at my 6-year-old daughter more than i wanted to admit. i wanted to have more fun, and be silly like the Flying Tomato! i thought about learning to snowboard, but there’s no snow here. then i saw shaun do a mctwist on a skateboard, and that’s all it took! i wanted to know what it was like to fly in the air like that. i knew i’d have to work hard. i figured it would take about a year to learn to skate like shaun white.
one day, i asked my dad to take care of my daughter, and drove to the local skate shop. i parked the car and took a deep breath. i prepared myself for ridicule. i didn’t know anyone who skated, and i was sure there were no adult skaters in my area. i walked in and told the 17-year-old street skater behind the counter that i wanted to learn to skate ramps and bowls. i had no idea what to buy, i had never set foot on a skateboard. the store clerk stared at me for a good minute (or what seemed like it), and then went to work. he showed me different boards, trucks and wheels. he explained the virtues of each, and let me choose after narrowing the selection down to two or three. an hour later, i had a really nice first setup. he suggested that i buy a helmet and some pads, as well as some special shoes. i thought all of that might be unnecessary, but followed his advice anyway. the store owner rang me up. he said that i’ll fall a lot at first, and that most women prefer longboarding.
i took my shiny new board home, and stood on it for the first time in the living room, on the carpet. i fell almost immediately, and my dad laughed. my wrists hurt! i laughed too.
see? it was already working.
in the last three years, my job has been on autopilot, i’ve quit most of my volunteer work, and i’ve suffered more injuries than i have in all my other years put together, all the direct result of skating. it makes me sad sometimes when i think of what’s gone, but i can’t say that i regret any of it. for the first time, i’m being true to myself. i’ve laughed more, learned more and loved more than i have in all my other years put together. and i don’t yell at my daughter anymore.