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Invincible

Every once in a while there is a brief window of time when I get to the skatepark and feel like I can do anything. I'm sure most skaters can relate.

Maybe you've spent the last several days dreaming up tricks in the off hours of the day, waiting for work to be over or lying in bed, imaging quarter-pipes and handrails in your mind's eye. Whenever life's responsibilities back off enough for you to do something superfluous like hit the skatepark (though to you, it's never superfluous, but life-giving and essential), it's like a cannonball launch. You hit the pavement hard and fast, cruising around, getting your legs back. And man, that feeling...the speed in blasting down a ramp, the sounds of urethane carving the hot concrete, the freedom of flying through the air and then the friendly reminder of our earthly domain beckoning us back down with gravity's pull. In those first few minutes, anything can be accomplished. Pain is irrelevant and failure is an old enemy, long gone like your grade school bully. 

You are invincible.

This is a great place to be. It's a fickle mindset, but productive and, frankly, a lot of fun. Boldness takes over and raw progression is the result. Whenever I find myself there, I try hard to keep my mind in that headspace, and my fear in check, as long as possible.

But it never lasts forever. Inevitably, the weight of gravity starts to feel heavier. Muscles get sore or don't respond exactly as you imagine. You fall. Maye you attempt some of the tricks you were dreaming of and they don't go as planned, the board misbehaving or the rails sticking. Hardship is no big deal for the ever-persistent skater, but the reminder that pain is real and danger inherent somehow alters the mind, slows you down. Reality creeps up as you no longer feel invincible, but clunky and unresponsive. Fear sets in as you are reminded of your base humanity, riding a piece of wood on man-made ramps, the likes of which may fail just as easily as you can. It's not a good feeling falling back down to earth, physically or mentally, but truth is truth so let it lie.

Still, this is where the real work begins. The high is gone and you have a choice. What are you going to do about the hard work of fighting gravity? Maybe you strike up a conversation with another skater and lazily cruise around in between chats. That's fine, and there are days for that. But those tricks you were thinking of, the ones that haunted you...do they so easily float away? Or do they stick like a thorn in your side, waiting to be tried, pummeled through, teased out until victory is declared or a true injury sends you home? This is where skaters are shown for what they're worth, and though not every session can have this same level of intensity and commitment, what happens here will often determine how much a part of you this sport is. Is it a passion or merely a hobby? Is this a way of life, or something you do because it feels good when everything works? When it doesn't work, do you go home, or keep at it, because you just can't stop?


I was reminded of that feeling today, and whether or not you are a skater, I hope you can relate on some level, because life isn't so different, is it? Some days the sun shines bright while a cool breeze blows and life is just working well. We feel invincible, like all our dreams will come true and we will simply cruise through every minute of it, riding high on a mountaintop avalanche, never touching the chaos below us. This usually happens when some milestone or decision is reached, right? I decided my major, I graduated, I'm quitting my job to start a business. But anyone who has lived a little knows that window of motivation -- much like at the skate park -- is short-lived. The real work that is done happens when reality sets in, gravity slams you down and reminds you that pain is real and you are fighting against powers and principalities beyond your control. It's an uphill climb, and oftentimes the only thing keeping you going is the harsh grit of endurance.

I pray that you and I can live more often in those windows of "invincibility." Good stuff happens there, so recognize it and make the best of those moments. But I also pray we can have the motivation to continue through when reality takes over and life gets hard. It's a harsh world, but thank God we are not alone in the fight.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)

 


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