Sunday, June 21, 2015

Walk Away

I hate walking away from a skateboarding trick. That's why my poor friends in high school used to watch me try tricks sometimes 100+ attempts before landing it, and usually I'd make them videotape most of them. (If any of you are reading, sorry...) I'm not as bad about that as I used to be, but I still have a lot of trouble walking away, and yesterday was one such instance.
I had arrived at a bank spot at a nearby school, and was just messing around to see if I could get anything for a video I'm working on (Skater Dad: the movie). In my head I saw an impossible body-varial/ 360 shuv-it-kind-of-thing, and so I tried it. And landed it!! First try! Awesome, now it's time to break out the camera, shoot it and move on.

About fifty tries later, I still hadn't landed the trick and was yelling things like, "This is so dumb!" and "Skateboarding is stupid!" I immediately felt bad about that last one and apologized to my board; but the fact of the matter was that my frustration level was peaking over a simple skateboard trick, worsened by the fact that I had already landed it and, for some reason, could not duplicate the move.
In moments like these, I tend to become very introspective, asking myself questions like, "Why is this so important to me?" and "Why can't I just walk away and go home?" I also considered the old adage, you learn more from your failures than your successes, but I'm still not sure if that applies to skateboarding...
As I look back at this moment, and hundreds of other frustrated skate sessions, I believe the reason I incessantly attempted tricks was because the glory of having them captured on video, to be later edited into masterpiece skate films titled Skate Fast, Live Slow and Don't Get Bored, was worth the frustration. But why? So I can show my friends and have them say, "Hey, you're pretty good at skateboarding," only to never again watch the work of art I had poured so many hours into, so much blood and sweat?
Or is it simply the personal satisfaction of creating something I'm proud of? If you could get into my head during the middle of one of these endless attempts at a trick, making your way past the mild obscenities and self-doubt, you would find an image of me landing said trick, and then something like, "It'll be so cool when I land that." But the physical evidence, the video footage of such a trick, is still crucial to me, because even if I were to land it with no camera in sight (which happened on this day), I would vow to myself afterward to make my way back to shoot it; proof to the world, or maybe myself, that I was indeed as accomplished as I set out to be at that moment in the world of skateboarding.
And so, on that fateful day, as the sun set and the memory card of my camera filled, with fatigue and an injured foot to show for it, I walked (hobbled) away. Partially due to frustration, partially due to fatigue (I'm not 17 anymore), but mostly because I told my wife I'd be home by 7:30 and it was way past that...
You see, at the end of the day, my priorities have changed, and now skateboarding is no longer the end-all, be-all of my life (I'm not sure it ever was, but definitely had a spot in the top-5). So when I can't land a trick and frustrations level rise, I must remember that that stress is merely taking hours off of my life, which is full for so many, many other reasons.
Sometimes I make the trick, and sometimes I don't. But no matter what, I have a loving wife and child back home waiting for me, and that's better than any skate video I could make.
(I really am working on a skate video by the way...trailer below! You can trust though, that maturity has made it a slightly less stressful video shoot than prior years. Enjoy!)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Love Like Brothers


Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)
What does it mean to love like brothers?
Brothers are loyal, protect each other, have fun. But brothers fight. Alot. Brothers actually probably fight more than friends or acquaintances or maybe even lovers. But the thing that sets them apart when they do fight, is that they will protect each other no matter what disagreement has risen between them, and ideally, they will ultimately forgive.
If we are to love like brothers, as Christians, we must expect to fight with other Christians. We will disagree on theology and how church should be done. We may even have qualms with each other personally. But we must remember that, no matter what, we are brothers, bound by Christ and grafted into the family of God. Though we disagree, we must remain loyal to and protect each other. We must humbly admit when we are wrong, be sympathetic and compassionate to others when they fall, and above all, love faithfully.
This is how we love as brothers. And this is our calling.
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)
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Friday, June 12, 2015

Ticklefits

Sometimes I feel like my life is inundated with poop.
For the sake of propriety, though, as I explain why, let's just call it the Ticklefits, an incurable disease that spreads like wildfire and has plagued mankind since its inception, particularly after eating a lot of fruit.
I had just gotten done feeding my daughter, when I noticed the first symptoms of the Ticklefits -- her face getting red and scrunched -- the evidence of some internal struggle to get the Ticklefit out. No big deal, happens every day. But then I remembered last night, when a particularly explosive endeavor resulted in some spilled Fits on the floor. I picked her up and, sure enough, her high chair was no longer suitable to sit in -- INFECTED!
I rushed her to the sink to keep the disease from spreading and took her clothes off as swiftly as I could. I found the source of the Fits, and changed her overflowing diaper, all the while exclaiming about how I couldn't wait for Ellie to be potty-trained (I mean, stop being ticklish...?). Well, that's when another symptom of the Ticklefits showed up -- yellow substance #1! INFECTED...ALL OVER!!
Now I must give her an emergency detox bath and end this once for all. All the while, though, all I can think about is how this has been such an interruption in my day! For you see, I work from home, which means I don't always take days off when I should. I had decided to take this particular Wednesday off from fighting contagious diseases, but so far it had been anything but restful.
So we're in an impromptu bath time with an end in sight, though still far off. That's when a random symptom of the Fits shows up -- Spit-up in the bathwater! "Spit up" is the nice way of saying puke for babies, which you can imagine has thrown yet another wrench in my cleanup operation. I'll spare you anymore details, but eventually I got her cleaned up and in her crib for a much-needed nap on her part.
Back to the chair -- as I was cleaning up the beginnings of this whole fiasco, I reflected on how poorly I had handled this entire situation. Running around the house yelling, "There's Ticklefit everywhere! Why are you still ticklish?!" is an understandable, but certainly less-than-noble reaction. And were you a neighbor of mine, I'm not proud to say that you would hear things like this exit our windows fairly often, for the Fits is a common adversary in our household.
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A prior instance of the Tickle Fits spreading.
Okay, analogy over. So why do I get so frustrated by situations like this (besides the fact that I'm cleaning up human feces)? I think the problem lies in my expectations for what my life should be like, and ultimately is a selfishness issue.
I started today (and most days) expecting to get something done that I wanted to get done, be it writing, music, skateboarding, video games, etc. On this particular day of presupposed rest, I especially thought it reasonable that I should be able to do whatever I wanted to do. But then there's this little one-year-old with big brown eyes and a massive level of curiosity that knows nothing of my plans and fully expects my presence throughout the day for her entertainment, education and overall benefit. And she has every right to -- not because she doesn't know any better, but because that's what I signed up for.
When I became a father (and before that, when I got married), I lost rights as an individual. My priorities changed drastically. I was no longer "number one." And so for me to decide that today I am number one, is like trying to swim upstream -- I can make it a little while, but never all the way and never without pain and fatigue.
Now I don't mean to take that to its extreme and say it's never okay to have moments to myself, for those are the times I recharge, being the introvert I am. But when I'm frustrated because I didn't get to do what I wanted to do because my daughter needed me, that is an unfounded expectation from the beginning, one based on selfishness, which will never lead where I want it to go.
And so I'm brought back to these verses again:
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." (Matthew 16:25-25)
This is just another instance, a very practical one in fact, where I must deny myself for the sake of someone else, which is ultimately just acting like my Savior.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:3-8
Here's a fun, slightly related video my friend Taylor made!

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Monday, June 8, 2015

The Comfort Trap

I love songs like the one below by House of Heroes, calling out us Americans and the dreams we pursue, ignoring whether or not the end goal is really worth all the struggle. In the end, we do something we hate for half our lives to afford certain comforts that we believe most Americans should have and enjoy. "The pursuit of happiness" you might call it. Is it freedom, or a form of slavery?

But I say, "No way!" Comfort is the enemy! The problem is, that's an easy thing to say when I'm comfortable...
And here comes the trouble: my wife and I are about to head into a season of cutting back, and I've found myself lamenting the soon-to-be lost aspects of our lives that I enjoy, most of which are comforts. Eating out, buying random things we want, little trips around town. Expenses such as these will all be weighed for their worth before any hard-earned money is spent, and you know what? I don't like it.
It feels good buy two pairs of shoes to get the free shipping, when I only need one. I like being able to eat out with friends instead of eating at home beforehand to save money. I want to be able to buy CDs whenever I hear a band I like (yeah, I still buy CDs). All of it just feels...free?
But isn't the comfort trap just that...a trap? Or could it be that a plush-lined trap with an all-you-can-eat buffet and high-speed internet isn't such a bad trap to be in? Is it possible that the thing I just a few moments ago called slavery is now, to me, freedom?
What does scripture say about this?
Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Timothy 6:17-18)
Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. (Proverbs 11:28)
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
I've been reading through the Old Testament though, and God, over and over again, blesses the Hebrew patriarchs (AbrahamIsaacJacob) financially. And later, God tells us to meditate on His word, so that we may "be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8) So money can't be all that bad, right?
But in most instances of the patriarchs, their blessing is  accompanied by worship (building an altarobediencefaith). When God tells Joshua he will be be prosperous and successful, it is preceded by, "As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Joshua 1:5b), and followed up with, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9b). It seems that God may be most interested in our hearts -- in our love relationship with Him.
And so in this instance, where my desire is for comfort, things and money, I must remember that God cares most about my heart, and so should I.
In the account of Jesus' interaction with a rich young man who came to Him asking what he needed to do to enter the kingdom of God, Mark says, "Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.'" (Mark 10:21) A lot of people take this verse as proof that we should all sell everything we have to follow Jesus, and maybe that's the case for many of us, but in this instance I believe Jesus' call wasn't to all believes necessarily, but to this man specifically. The rich man's heart was on his wealth, and Jesus revealed this to him when he told him to give it all away, and his response was negative. "Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." (Mark 10:22)
 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
I quote that verse more than any other on this blog, but it often sums up what I think God wants us to do when it comes to money: trust Him. But it's difficult to trust someone you don't know, right?
So when my heart longs for comfort and money, it doesn't mean those things are necessarily bad, but my longing needs to be for God, for a love relationship with Him, because that's what He ultimately wants, and what I ultimately need. If I find myself concerned at the lack of comfort, trust God that He gives me what I need and also blesses me. If I find myself blessed, praise God in worship, for He is the one who blesses. If I find myself lacking (not in what I need, but what I want), praise God also, because I have what I need and am not receiving something I don't.
If I heed Jesus' command and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, in poverty or riches, I will satisfy the deepest longings of my heart, where the fleeting comforts of this world will fall short in comparison to the warmth, safety, peace, joy, satisfaction, fulfillment and excitement of an honest and true relationship with our Creator. It is a comfort that cannot be taken, and will last forever.
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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Los Angeles Surf Spots – Updated!

Last year I wrote a post about my surfing experience in Los Angeles, detailing each summer since 2010. Well, as we stand on the cusp of summer's cliffs, overlooking a blue horizon of Pacific dreams, I thought it might be nice to revisit the post and update it with last summer's findings.
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Los Angeles is a tough town, full of cutthroat executives and self-preservationists living alongside an influx of dreamers that will do anything for free if it’s good for their career. LA will either make or break you...actually, even if it makes you there’s a good chance some breaking will still be involved. But as every surfer knows, a good break can be a wonderful thing (see what I did there?), and for me, the last four years have been marked by a different break every summer. So if you’re new to town, here’s the breakdown of what some of our most popular beaches have to offer.
porto 3
(One of the early days at El Porto)
My first full summer in Los Angeles was spent surfing every week at Santa Monica. I wouldn’t say Santa Monica has a reputation as a great surf spot, but I’ve had so many good days there that it’s definitely worth checking out. Watch out though -- on bigger days this spot can close out faster and heavier than your bank account after moving here with no job, so check the surf report before you go. Other downfalls include dirty water and pricey parking. I recommend parking at Ocean Way and Bay St. before 7AM (the meters are free). It’s also a great place to take a surf lesson, with a host of schools stationed there.
Later that year I also discovered Sunset and Pacific Coast Highway, one of my favorite spots in the city. Here you’ll get beautiful, long right-hand waves with faces as smooth as a 40-foot skate ramp. It gets crowded though, and you have to paddle pretty far to get to the tip of the break; but sometimes you can hang out on the far end and catch the leftovers, which is akin to leftover turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving...not the main course but just as good in their own way.

2011 became the year of Venice, which every LA visitor needs to experience at least once. Parking is a nightmare and there’s always the chance you’ll happen across a hypodermic needle floating by in between sets. Still, if you want to get to the roots of LA surfing, this is a good place to be. It’s nice for beginners, as the shallow water before the break tends to extend pretty far, giving tourists plenty of space to frolic in the dirty water while you hone your skills on the smaller break. Also, if the waves are ever bad, there’s a great skatepark nearby for those who keep a board in their trunks at all times.
The following year was a flat summer, and so the only spot that had any resemblance of a wave was El Porto. The northernmost part of Manhattan Beach, this is where the majority of surfers in the Los Angeles area flock to. It probably has the most consistent waves in the area, at least when it comes to size. However, it can get dumpy and powerful, making it difficult to paddle out at times, especially for a beginner (here’s an article to help on a challenging paddle out). But when every other break in LA is flat, Porto usually has enough power to pick you up, which is why it’s also one of the most crowded spots in the city. For that reason, I tend to head a little north to my favorite Los Angeles spot - Dockweiler.
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(Dockweiler at Tower 45)
When 2013 rolled around, I moved two miles from Dockweiler and made it a personal goal to surf more than I ever had in my life. The waves are just a tad smaller than El Porto, but fewer crowds and ample free parking make it a worthy sacrifice in my book. Though the waves are smaller, the right swell can bring head-high lefts at Lifeguard Tower 45 (corner of Vista Del Mar and Napoleon St.). I’ve also had a host of great rides at the groin at Tower 49. Just a few yards south of this, you can grab a fire pit and have a good old fashioned California bonfire after a long day of surfing -- what else could you ask for in a spot?
2014 was a sparse summer. With a new baby and new job, time to surf (and write about surfing for that matter) ebbed away like the outgoing tide. When I did get out though, I was lucky enough to have a friend who managed to find a little secret spot in Malibu. If you happen across it (I was sworn to secrecy!), you'll find some of the longest rights you've ever surfed. Watch out though! It's littered with rocks and so careless or beginner surfers need not apply. Though I can't disclose its location, I will say pretty much all of Malibu is filled with nice rock breaks and long right-handers. Take your pick and get there early to snag a few waves before the late-comers.
Right2
(Jealous?)
If you're new to Los Angeles, this should serve as a quick guide to what the City of Angels has to offer surf-wise. There's more to explore that's not covered here (Hermosa, Redondo, RAT Beach, Palos Verdes), but I'll let you check those out for yourself. Feel free to comment below if you find something worth sharing! (secret spots excluded!)
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