Four notes on lifelong learning, longboard edition

longboarding as an amateur

I got a longboard for my birthday from Chiara. I’ve been a skateboarder for more than 20 years, though timewise I doubt the last 15 have added up the amount of time on deck anywhere near to the amount of on deck time from the first 5.

And as I turned 40 I thought it would be time to get a skateboard more suited to my age. Something cruisey, but still cool. A commuting board I could still flip a few tricks on.

In my research there appeared to be only one option. The Loaded Tesseract. A sweet longboard with kick on both nose and tail. Big and beefy yet still maneuverable – so much so that fliptricks are part of the package. Check it out.

Check it out.

I was excited when I unwrapped it. And have been riding it around. But here’s the thing. It’s huge. It’s heavy. It’s not easy to maneuver; even though I’ve been skating for a long time, that doesn’t mean I’m instantly going to be popping tricks on my huge-ass longboard (so I learned). What I’ve seen of people riding longboards they make it look easy,

What I’ve seen of people riding longboards they make it look easy,

But that’s because the people in that video are pros. They’ve been riding this board for a long time. Their legs are a lot stronger than mine, they practice every day.

My dreams of stepping on the board and just busting flatland tricks and coasting over curbs are now in the past. In fact, I may never get there.

But I’ve also been reminded that that’s hardly the point.

I’m learning to skateboard again

And that’s not all. I’ve recently settled back into practicing my Dutch, juggling, plunking away on the ukulele, practicing card magic, and now longboarding. I’m pretty bad at all of them, with the exception maybe of juggling. But even there I’m good in that I can do regular three-ball cascades and some simple tricks, but I’m not on my way to being a professional juggler (mind you, I also don’t want to be a professional juggler).

What I like is the learning part. Trying new things, and seeing some progress. Two things that are good for me as I enter middle age. Actually, good for anyone at any point in their life.

I used to think way back in high school, that I shouldn’t bother trying to learn guitar, because I’d never be as good as Jon Hesla or Marcel Lamothe – those guys were already great at guitar at 15, and I was so far behind them. That was how my thought process went. And yet, here I am approximately 25 years removed from that era, and I can’t help but imagine that if I had spent a little time each day working on playing the guitar (if that had been my chosen thing), that I’d be pretty damn good by now.

Here I am, approximately 25 years removed from that era, and I can’t help but imagine that if I had spent a little time each day working on playing the guitar (if that had been my chosen thing), that I’d be pretty damn good by now.

“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now” – Chinese proverb

Four notes on lifelong learning

1. It’s not that I wish I were a good guitar player, but rather it’s that starting something is only the only way to develop at it. And don’t fear doing it late. I’m currently reading Raymond Chandler’s ‘The Long Good-Bye‘. He’s a giant of detective fiction and one of the progenitors of the noir style, and his first novel wasn’t published until he was 44. I’m ahead of the curve, Chandler-wise.

2. Amateurism rules. I’m getting okay with sucking at stuff. Being bad at things is a great inhibitor, stopping you from trying anything which you might enjoy and may enrich your life; the fact is, you’ll never get good at anything unless you start. But also, who cares about being good at stuff? I mean, obviously you better be good at some stuff, but the fact is, there’s so much other stuff that it’s okay to be only okay, or even bad at.

But also, who cares if you’re good? I mean, obviously you better be good at some stuff, but the fact is, there’s so much other stuff out there that it’s okay to suck at.

3. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Not trying to sound any alarms, I know that you’re only as old as you feel and all that stuff, but as a guy who’s entering a new phase of life, it’s worth it to keep trying stuff, doing things that are new, and keep moving. It’s been scientifically proven that building new neural pathways (via learning new skills) helps overall cognitive functioning.

4. People aren’t static. I keep changing and growing. Even though I try to define myself one way, other stuff starts happening. From freelancer to guy with day job and becoming a parent, to name two recent examples. And from skateboarder to longboard newbie, to name a current example. This is a good thing, there’s no need for me to stay in any one place.

2017-09-18T09:30:40+00:00 August 15 2017|