Skateboarding has taught me three things we can use to survive this moment: constraints are necessary, patience wins the race, and balance is not an option.
I’ve known mentally that prices on everything have gone up. But the reality didn’t sink into my consciousness until I went to buy Organic Pasture Raised Eggs the other day. I opened the door to the refrigerator at my local grocer and nearly fell into the shelves: the price tag read $9.99. For twelve eggs.
I stepped back and cleared my eyes. Did I see things right? I checked the regular eggs, and they were $4.99. For twelve eggs.
I was disoriented. Reality shifted on me.
I looked around; I was still in the store, standing in front of the eggs; people were walking around picking out fruit and veggies, yucking it up with the butcher, talking too loud to someone on their phone—everything was normal.
But I wasn’t. The price wasn’t.
You may say, “Hey, quit buying those hoity-toity eggs. Buy the regular ones.”
And my answer is, “They are expensive too.”
Two years ago, eggs were $2.99 for regular eggs and $4.99 for my ritzy eggs.
Conclusion: we live in a crazy moment.
Next thought: what do we do with this moment? How do we navigate $5.00 gas? How do we live with soaring energy prices?
Skateboarding has taught me three things we can use to survive this moment (and many others). It taught me that constraints are necessary, patience wins the race, and balance is not an option.
Constraints are Necessary
Face it: we are Americans and don’t like being confined. We want freedom. Wide-open spaces are demanded. Free time: a requirement.
Reality is currently screaming something different at us: we are being boxed in by prices and the necessity to get creative to keep living the way we do.
In skateboarding, you are constrained all the time. At first, you are constrained by the fact you can’t stand on the board. Then, you are constrained by the amount of tricks you can do. Then, you are denied where and when you can skate.
If you want to skateboard, you have no option but to embrace the confines imposed on you. In this moment we live in, we must also embrace the limits.
It’s not fun at first, but it’s rewarding. Embracing constraints is what makes great painters, poets, and songwriters. Limitations are what make for great athletes and great sports. Constraints, something we aren’t used to, will also make us great mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors.
Taking a cue from skateboarding, we just need to find our footing, get up when we fall, keep learning new things, and keep pushing forward until we’ve mastered our current phase.
Patience Wins the Race
Let me illustrate this point with the following fable. It’s famous, but it’s a good one to re-read every once in a while.
TORTOISE AND THE HARE – Aesop’s Fables
“A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.
“‘Do you ever get anywhere?’ he asked with a mocking laugh.
“‘Yes,’ replied the Tortoise, ‘and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.’
“The Hare was much amused at the idea of running a race with the Tortoise, but for the fun of the thing he agreed. So the Fox, who had consented to act as judge, marked the distance and started the runners off.
“The Hare was soon far out of sight, and to make the Tortoise feel very deeply how ridiculous it was for him to try a race with a Hare, he lay down beside the course to take a nap until the Tortoise should catch up.
“The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully, and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.”
“The race is not always to the swift.”
As Americans, we want to be first in everything. It’s an excellent trait: we don’t settle for anything but the best. But at this moment in time, we all need to learn patience. Ancient philosophers called it the “queen” virtue—the one to aspire to more than any other. Crazy things are happening, and most of it we can’t control. But we can control our souls and minds, and by controlling them through patience, we will survive and most likely thrive in this insane hour.
When you first learn to do tricks on skateboards, it takes immense patience. You fall, scrap the crap out of your shins, or smack the board on the curb. Failing happens a lot. But you keep going. And you only get good at it by being patient.
We are learning a valuable lesson in our country’s history: we have to be patient with the times we live in, keep doing what we are supposed to do, and eventually, we will win the race in the end.
Balance Is Not An Option
Everyone is pinched in some way: financially, relationally, emotionally. Some more than others. We are constrained. We are forced to go slower. But it feels like we need to move faster and go harder than ever.
Moving faster, trying harder, and pushing longer doesn’t always make one a better skateboarder. What makes a skater great is balance: the ability to stay on one’s feet no matter what is happening; to land even when the trick gets out of hand; to slow down, cut out a trick or two, stay upright, and keep going.
Balance is not an option in skateboarding, and it’s not an option in everyday life anymore. This moment in time may cause us all to take stock of what is essential: bigger, better, faster. Or more balance?
What will it gain us to lose our family but have more money, clients, or business? We may need to cut a few things out to spend more time with those we love.
So, is that extra vacation necessary? Can you do it with two cars instead of three? Are you able to skip buying Organic Pasture Raised eggs and buy the Organic Free Range eggs instead? What would it mean to cut out a client and have more time with the family, making memories for that last?
It’s not flashy, nor is it what we desire, but it’s the answer to the chaos we are facing.
Nothing New Here
I’m not the first to state these things. And I won’t be the last.
Many writers and thinkers have long said we must take stock in life. We’re often encouraged to find ways to create despite our obstacles. Others have provided tips on how to keep at tasks diligently and persevere until the end. Many have stated we need work-life balance.
Maybe today is the day we do these things. Maybe today is the day we rise above the chaos and really live.