Sunday, July 25, 2010

Skate to Create

"Skateboarding is not a crime." That was one of many bumper stickers on the blue Ford LTD station wagon that was my first car. From Tony Hawk to Powell Perelta, Alva, they were all skate-related, but that was the sticker that seemed to snag a worldview and spoke my truth 22 years ago. Funny how I've thought about putting that same sticker on my truck today.

I just read an article about pro skateboarder Danny Way in Men's Journal by a writer and skateboarder named Bret Anthony Johnston. As he's wrapping up the article, he throws this out there:

"Think Picasso, Hemingway, Dvorak. Think Laird Hamilton, Chuck Yeager... Consider the likelihood that these men don't possess qualities the rest of us lack, but instead have within them intense voids, empty and expansive chambers of possibility. Maybe these voids--which the men fill with what can only be called art--are innate, or maybe they're the result of damage or sacrifice or failures the artists have endured. The origin doesn't matter. Nor does the medium."

Johnston was talking about Danny Way's approach to skateboarding and life and expanding that approach to other artists; other practitioners of life who become great, distinguish themselves, separate themselves in some way through a sustained effort and focus; seeing something in their field that the rest of us haven't.

I've never given myself over to skateboarding in that way, nor have I ever been good enough to justify doing so. But skateboarding has, from the beginning at age 13, represented a worldview for me. It has been one of the few experiences, still today, where the rest of the world melts away when simply cruising or carving or pumping atop asphalt. Like trail running or writing or meditation, where I can be completely in the moment without realizing it.

At age 15 I remember thinking to myself and saying to a few others that skateboarding would be a lifelong passion and activity for me--whether skating or writing about it, etc. I doubt I would have thought about longboarding then, or  long distance longboarding, but that has been the co-evolution of the sport/art and me and where I find my stoke. In addition to writing about skating and skateboarding a few times a week, Bret Anthony Johnston is the director of the creative writing program at Harvard. He's got a book of short stories set in and around Corpus Christi, Texas, and another on creative writing. Someone who gets and shares the stoke.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was a great quote from Danny Way. i think my most creative/focused/productive moments have consistently been when i have the most void to fill and absolute need to fill it.

When that void/fulfillment doesn't exist there seems to be the least amount of me.

Sometimes there is merely the carrying out of filling and sometimes i feel the genius flowing out. The "genius" moments normally turn out the worst.

Thanks for sharing - andy.