Saturday, June 04, 2005

Passing Through


This is the way of things: a given tendency will develop until it reaches a certain limit, then a process of entropy and transformation sets in. In metal this process is called rust, and in corpses, decomposition. In aging skateboarders it's called "joint pain".

I went out skating today, and was doing pretty well until my board slipped out from under me during a new flip trick I was attempting. The problem with doing tricks backwards is that there is a tendency to land with one's upper body too far forward, thus shooting the board out behind one and falling on one's side or stomach. Since I'm fairly tall, when I fall it's generally a long way to the ground, and everyone in the park let out an "Ooooh, that's gotta hurt" kind of sound when they saw me go down. It wasn't such a bad impact--just an awkward motion that resulted in my being laid out flat on the ground; I got up feeling none the worse for wear. But after a few hours, when all of the dopamine and adrenalin had drained out of my bloodstream, I started feeling sore.

So tonight I'm left with that "I should quit skating" feeling. It's getting a little tiring: doing the same old circuit around the Beasley park, learning ever more complicated variations of tricks I've been doing for years. And I have a hard time getting as enthusiastic as even the oldschool guys at the park when I land a new trick. It's not like it was in the old days, when you land your first kickflip, or flatground wallride, or some other trick you never though you could do, and you feel like a window in heaven has just opened and somebody is calling down your name. I've landed seemingly impossible moves before. I've pushed the envelope and worked magic with my feet. I can still string a line of moves together to delight and astonish the youth, but some of the thrill is gone, and the ground is feeling harder every time I take a spill.

I've been thinking today about the Buddhist idea of aggregates. We surround ourselves with things that are valuable to us, but when we pass on they will likely end up in auctions or, in my case, second hand shops. The treasures I value are, for the most part, one step removed from landfill. People are so much more important than possessions, but my life is such that I rarely get to see the ones I care about. And then there are the aggregates of the mind; the thoughts, beliefs and ideas with which we furnish our soul or consciousness. Are these less tangible treasures any less removed from oblivion than the assorted bric-a-brac decorating my room?

If you're sufficiently inspired you might write some of them down--or put them in some sort of transmittable form--and if you're adept and lucky enough, the artifacts you construct will be gathered and preserved on down through the centuries. That fate is for the rare geniuses, but what about the obscure rest of us: the ephemeral bloggers and cyber-sribblers, the garbage scuptors and beer parlor philosophers? What is there in us that will endure when the physical and mental aggregates that make up our person are dissolved into the greater cosmos? I guess a lot of things in this life are beyond our control. We just have to make the most of the pieced-together bivouac that each moment presents to us as a dwelling place, and let the larger picture take care of itself. 'Till passing through passes away, I remain to pass another day.


em said...

You've reached that cross-over point where you have to find new reasons for old things. Adrenaline just isn't there anymore, nore elation. I'm talking subtle pleasures.

I command you to stop doing tricks for a week. You may only roll, kick turn and wheely. Just carving, no ollies. When the curb comes up just ride over it.

God talks to us through the pavement. Stay in touch.

flatlander said...

There is something to what you say, Em. In learning to ride backwards I have started to fall into the same fallacy that many kids are victem to: trying to land the flashy, complicated moves without learning the basics first. Learn 360s before 360 kickflips. Kick-turn, and "unlearn".