Skateboarding for self care
Building resilience through joy.
I love skateboarding and I always did. I used to ride a lot when I was younger, but then I stopped after I suffered an injury while jumping a flight of stairs. This was an especially stupid jump — it was too high and the landing surface wasn’t smooth enough. I crushed the front of the board with my front foot. I broke the board and with it broke my ankle.
After that I gave up. I didn’t replace the board for a new one.
A while after the injury, in an effort to grow up I got into a career in consulting. It seemed to me that people take themselves very seriously. At least I started taking myself too seriously. With the mandatory Lenovo laptops and suits, it seemed like they had to separate their identity in two.
The work self, and the real self.
On the one hand, the self that goes to clients, and speaks about numbers and returns on investment. On the other, the self that speaks freely, and talks about joy and strain. The self that has a tattoo beneath the slacks. The self that enjoys music, art, and loves to skateboard.
I shamed myself away from it. I denied a significant part of who I was. I thought skateboarding was bad for me because I could get injured. I was judging myself for wasting time with it. The self-talk went on and on: I should’ve been doing something more productive.
I used to love to go skateboarding. We went out a lot, practicing tricks and sliding rails. The imminent danger and inherent challenge were what kept us going. Jordan Peterson asserts that:
“Kids need playgrounds dangerous enough to remain challenging. People don’t seek to minimize risk; they seek to optimize it. When untrammeled and encouraged, we prefer to live on the edge. There, we can still be both confident in our experience and confronting the chaos that helps us develop.”
We were building confidence and resilience. No matter what, we tried again. We didn’t care about the consequences. We didn’t think about the risk of breaking a bone. There was nothing else to consider other than the eventualsuccess. We knew it’s going to happen. If not today, it’ll be tomorrow.
Then it did. I landed.
And when I did, I didn’t make a record of it. I didn’t look at the odds of landing a trick. I didn’t calculate the ROI — how many hours I’ve put into the practice against how many times I landed.
I got back to riding for the sheer joy of riding.
Nowhere to go. Nothing to achieve. Just enjoy the moment.
Strangely enough, there is a lot to learn about life in skateboarding. When you go for a ride with nowhere to go, you enjoy the moment. No agenda, no complexity. Just the wind, you, and the wheels spinning. You might fall, but you don’t think about it. A small piece of rock may block the wheel at any moment. You might trip and fall.
And sometimes you do. Usually, though, nothing severe happens. You dust off and get back on the board.
Similarly, life gives you obstacles you cannot foresee. You may trip and fall at any moment. You cannot control all the outcomes; you cannot watch out for every little rock. You cannot manage every circumstance.
You just ride. Do what you can to stay on top. When you trip, you must get back up to keep your balance. And if you enjoy the ride, if you enjoy your days, you’re excited to get up after a fall.
I had to change perspective to realize that staying joyful is my own responsibility.
In the recent year, I started working towards accepting myself. With a great deal of soul searching, coaching and adopting new habits, I made real progress. No judgment. I don’t self-deprecate anymore.
I’m OK with myself.
There is nothing I should’ve done. No regrets. All is well as it is.
Among other things, I learned and accepted that I love to ride the skateboard. That I missed it. I decided I want to ride regularly for the fun of it.
So I got a penny board for the office. No kidding.
It’s banana yellow.
I ride to get a cup of coffee, I ride when I go across the floor for a phone call. I take short rides. I enjoy every single one. Pure bliss.
And if something goes wrong, I have a little something to look forward to every day.
It’s my daily joy.
(also I’m very grateful that they let me ride around the office)
How many moments like this do I have in my day?
Do I enjoy or restrain myself?
What do I look forward to on a daily basis?
A service lady in my building asked me how I was doing this morning. I told her I’m doing great. She replied with saying that it’s so good to hear, and how much she loves hearing that from people.
She said that meeting happy people gives her hope.
When I ask people how they are, they usually answer with this:
“It could be better.”
But can it really get any better?
We are lucky to live in an age when we’re free to do almost anything we want with our time. If you’re healthy and have job security, does it really get better than this?
It will not get better tomorrow when you finish the dread of work you planned for today. Neither will it get better next month when the project is over. Nor will it be better in 10 years when you save up for that thing you want, or when you finally do that job you love.
There is nothing else to worry about other than today. You are the only person in charge of your daily joy.
You are responsible for making your day great.
Write Down What Gives You Joy
Cheryl Richardson told about an exercise she did a while back. She used to write down a list of ten things everyday that gave her pleasure. Little things like sunbathing on the deck or climbing down into fresh sheets or a great meal for dinner. Or a focused listen to a favorite song.
She learned that she didn’t have a lot of pleasure in her life. She learned that she must care for herself first to be able to serve others. And when she got challenged, she knew she had a library of activities that bring her joy.
She went on to write a bestseller about the art of extreme self-care. She has been serving others as one of the most recognized executive coaches in the US.
She had to fill her own cup first.
There is nothing else to worry about than this moment.
The reality of our conscious experience is always now.
Take charge of today.
Originally published in The Startup on Medium.