Concrete Alchemists: Why We Should Think More Like Skateboarders

Before we share this essay, just wanted to give a shout out to Merideth at No-merit.com for publishing some inspiring writing. She handmakes patches and pouches and part of her profits go to paying the bonds of people accused of crimes in Cook County, Illinois. So not only by supporting No-Merit you would be helping people get out of jail and supporting an independent artist at the same time! Now here is an essay about a way to view the world, that will leave you thinkning differently after reading!

 

I used to live a few blocks from this spot in Los Angeles. At first glance it looks pretty forgettable. However, if you’re a skateboarder you might’ve called it church. I didn’t find out until later how well known it was even though I’d always see a gang of dudes skating there. It appears that in the past few years the owners have mostly put a stop to skating on the premises. In the RIP posts people called it “classic”, “legendary”, “infamous”.

 
This isn’t a skatepark. It was never designed for skaters nor intended to be skated.

As many of you know, I grew up skating. And it forever changed something about me. Like anything else, you first have to learn the fundamentals. You get a feel for the board - how to balance, what happens when you shift your weight. Then you learn how to stand on the board with one foot, the other on the ground pushing. Then there’s the ollie, the foundation of it all. An ollie gets you airborne. It allows you to jump on, off and over things.

When I say skateboarding changed me, I mean that it changed the way I view the world. After learning these fundamentals new possibilities opened up out of nowhere. I started to see skate spots everywhere. 

The curb down the block became a skate spot. Stairs were no longer just stairs. Benches were still for sitting, but also for grinding. Even my mom’s coffee table had potential. 

My parents just found an old home video of my best friend and I around 10 or 11 years old skating a neighbor’s driveway. This driveway is concrete. Right where it meets the garage, the ground is raised just a few inches past level. It is truly the smallest incline ever, but we’re using it just like you would a skate ramp, mimicking the same movements.

 As skateboarders, every structure that you come into contact with becomes an opportunity. And one of the coolest things about skating is that everyone has their own bag of tricks, style and skill set. Everyone brings their own flair to a spot. Each skater is this alchemist with the ability to transform their surroundings.

 So why should we think more like them?

I’m offering that it would benefit all of us to be open to opportunity in everything we did, especially and specifically in the activities and spaces we find most mundane. What if we walked into every experience giddy with the possibility of what could be instead of thinking what has been, what will be or what should be.

I say concrete alchemists because of this idea of skateboarders as alchemists, transforming concrete into acts never even imagined by the architect, using structures far beyond their conventional purpose.

However, I think this title can also be given to you. What if we allow ourselves space to imagine something else - to ask what if or why not, just a tiny tweak creating a pivot in thought. 

What if we take these ideas and beliefs that feel so concrete in our minds and just poke tiny holes in them. That tiny hole which can allow for something else to shine through.

 I think continually making space for that opening will eventually start to shift our internal paradigm and what we believe to be true. And maybe we'll start to see things we never before noticed.

I’d like to leave you with a quote by Franz Kafka,

“Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

 

 

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