In the last post about skateboarding and writing I talked about lessons learned from failure and the need to persevere and grow from the mistakes made. This time, I’d like to look at another aspect of the two that I think mesh well and inform me as a writer.
Skateboarding is a solitary sport. As a skater, it was up to me to succeed at a trick. I had to learn how to manipulate my body and kick at a certain speed or angle in order to successfully land a trick. If you’ve never tried it before, there’s a tremendous amount of balance and skill needed to perform tricks on a skateboard. I had a little bit of both but not enough to be a professional. I truly was in it for the experience, not fame or money.
Unlike team sports such as baseball or football where the success of the individual is good only so far as it supports the team victory, skating needs only the individual with their board for success. That fit my nature much more so than team sports. I’ve been one to always succeed or fail on my own. That way I have only myself to blame or praise for the job I’ve done. Skating did that for me. I could learn at my own pace and fault no one but myself if I failed at something.
As much as skating is an individual thing, it was best with friends around. That’s the paradox of such an inherently individual sport. I needed others to get the maximum benefit. I needed others pushing me past my limits or to encourage me or to even shame me into trying something I’d otherwise be too timid to try. I didn’t mind the push. It made me get away from the simpler tricks and push myself to try harder and more dangerous tricks.
I’ve found that writing carries the same concept. Writing in its purest form is an individual act. I write. I’m responsible for the outpouring of words and thoughts. Whether they succeed or fail those words are mine and I own them. It’s like skating in that I’m the one responsible for their outcome, no one else.
And like skating, I’m better when others are invested in me.
Trusted individuals have given me the means and desire to drive myself further, to take the criticism and turn it into success. Sure I’m still the one responsible for the outcome of my writing, but when others push me and encourage me, I’ve found the end results are much better than what I’d come up with on my own. Like my skating friends that encouraged me to try something harder and different, my writing friends have done the same. I’ve taken their encouragement and critiques to create a more complex product. It’s nothing I could’ve done on my own.
Lessons I didn’t even know I wanted as a skater have come up again and again in life. I can only smile at the juvenile I was, with the funny haircut and baggy shorts. Little did I know then how important skating would be to my success. Back then all I cared about was landing a trick and not hurting myself! But as I look on those days, I realize how fortunate I was to be involved in something so powerful.