Friday, July 26, 2013

Desensitized to Gore

Pain is something that skaters live with. This seems kind of odd to a lot of people, and on some level, I understand that. When I have enough time to skate several times a week, my body is constantly covered with scrapes, cuts, and bruises. And when I'm with other skaters, they get it- they're going through the same thing. It's been this way for so long that I'm actually taken a little off guard when someone gasps and asks me about some small cut or scrape that I have.
"Oooh. How'd you do that?!" they'll say, with a bit of worry in their voice.
"Oh, that's from skateboarding" I'll reply, matter of factly.
"Well what happened?"
"Oh, well this one... I don't remember, I... Oh yea, this one was from when I slipped out trying a trick down some stairs. It's not as bad as it looks."
And then they usually spend the rest of the conversation looking at me with a puzzled look, as if to say, "Why would you do something like that?" And you have no choice but to look back at them as if to say, "It was totally worth it. Stop worrying about me."

We've all experienced conversations like this. And when you get someone who doesn't know anything about skateboarding to watch someone trying a particularly gnarly trick, you can only hope it's as hilarious as the girl's reaction at the 45 second mark in the trailer for the Deathwish video. If you miss it, they also play it in slow motion at the end. Glorious.

My point is, when you stop and think about it, skaters must look extremely psychotic to the outside world. We huck ourselves off stairs for hours sometimes, falling over and over again. Hurting ourselves time and time again, and for what? So we can do this trick. Nobody's making us do it. No tangible good will come from it either- It's not as if we're curing cancer by landing a certain trick, and for most of us, landing the trick doesn't even equate to getting paid for it. Even when we're skating flatground, it doesn't seem much better. We'll often spend hours just jumping around and kicking our boards every which way just to land a trick once. To someone who doesn't skate, this has to seem like the most mysterious ritual ever.

We are used to seeing people beat themselves up for seemingly no reason. We are used to seeing blood. Broken arms, legs and ankles are part of the game. Some of us even get a sick thrill of excitement when we watch a montage of gruesome skateboarding bails. We've become desensitized  to all of these things that so many people would freak out about. Whatever motivates us to do this must be so weird and complex that your average person could never understand it.

I humbly suggest that the answer to all of this is simple and understandable to almost anyone, if they actually try. We do it because we love it. Landing a trick that I've never landed before is one of the greatest senses of accomplishment that I've ever experienced. It's all so foolish, and yet the end product looks so good, feels so good, and the way you did it is just slightly different than how anyone else did it, because it's saturated with your own personal style.

If skateboarding were easier, a lot of us probably wouldn't even do it. It's all about the challenge of doing something that you've never done before, and then once you've done it, making it more consistent than ever before. Many people assume that we put ourselves through pain because we're stupid or because we did a poor job choosing a hobby. But the fact of the matter is, there is perhaps no better way to prove your love for something than to suffer for it. If you love your art form, you will throw away hours to practice it. That's just the nature of loving anything though- if you love your dog, you will buy it food, take time to walk it, and even pick up it's poop and dispose of it. If you love your girlfriend, you will probably spend time with her that you could be spent doing something else. You'll probably spend some of your hard earned money on her (hopefully not too much- watch for gold-diggers) and you'll probably even wind up doing stupid things that you wouldn't do if you were single, like spend 2 hours in a dress store (not judging if you happen to be a guy that loves dress shopping, but I can't cover everyone's unique interests in my writing- sorry). You'll do all of that happily though, because you love that person/thing.

Now at this point, I probably sound like a sap, but the truth of the matter is pretty inescapable. If skaters didn't love skateboarding, why would we hurt ourselves for it? Why would we put so much time and money into it? People have literally dedicated their lives to skateboarding. Once you accept that one truth, everything else makes sense. The reason people misunderstand is because the idea of dedicating your life to the act of riding on a piece of wood is admittedly sort of strange on the surface.

So from now on, when someone asks me how I hurt myself, my reply will be, "Oh, I fell skateboarding. It hurts a little. It's cool though, because I love skateboarding and this is just something that happens."
Maybe then, they will understand, and I don't have to deal with their crazed looks. Actually, they'll probably still think I'm crazy, but I don't really care that much either. Oh well.

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