I've been watching this movie that came out a few years ago called We Are Skateboarders, in which the filmmakers go around asking skaters, "What is the soul of skateboarding?"
It's a pretty unique movie...part documentary, part skate film, part ridiculous skits. But as I've been going through it, I can't help but ask myself the same question: "What is the soul of skateboarding?"
I would say the answer to that question is different for everyone. For me personally, I landed on the word progression. A big part of skateboarding is progression, and the great thing about it is that progression is tangible. If I put enough hours and effort into a trick, eventually I will land it. And the feeling of landing it, the very real and physical evidence of achievement, is amazing. It's kind of like life...to have a good job, marriage, GPA, etc., you must put in work to reap the reward. (Skateboarding just happens to fall on the more fun side of things in life to get good at.)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10a)
Summer Tour '04
In putting in the work, I've found myself exasperated at times after trying a trick for hours, with hundreds of attempts, but little to show for it. I had one such session yesterday, trying for the second time to kickflip a 7-set, a trick that tore apart my board and burned out my thighs a few months prior (check out a clip here). Everything felt right about the flip, but I just couldn't get my mind in the right place to land it, and so I had to walk away...for now. But what keeps me going back? Why do I put myself through the physical and mental stress of trying something I've never done before? There may be a lot of reasons, but I think the biggest one is that it feels good to progress in something, to have that evidence of accomplishment right there in front of me.
photos by @rachelmneal
And so if the soul of skateboarding is progression, then I would say the spirit of skateboarding is progressing with your friends. My session yesterday was alone (as many are, the older I get), and I have to say that the ups and downs of skateboarding are better experienced with others. Recently I was skating a little bowl at a skatepark. Another guy showed up and started doing some rad stuff; so I started trying to up the ante with my own tricks. Soon I felt an energy hit our session that I rarely feel by myself -- total strangers pushing each other towards greater achievement while congratulating accomplishment -- it's a beautiful thing that elevates skateboarding beyond just a sport and into a community.
The bros, Summer Tour '04
If you skate (which I hope you do), think about why you do it, what pushes you, and comment below. You can check out the full movie of We Are Skateboarders here. It's worth the watch (viewer discretion advised).