"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Patrick: An Origin Story

The other day I was reflecting on my life as I will often do, and I posed this question to myself.  Why do I have such high self esteem?  I know, weird question.  Seriously though, why?  I have never been really successful or great at anything I have tried, my job for the most part leaves me unfulfilled (but it is a great job), and growing up I was never "popular".
It took a little bit of souls searching and digging through the archives of my brain space but I arrived at an answer.  More than just an answer a specific moment in time when I somehow found the strength to turn my world view on its head.  In this case a specific moment does not mean a precise time.  It was not on September 17, 1987, although it could have been.  That moment was the moment that changed everything and shaped me into who I am today.

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
The pivotal moment happened when I was in high school.  I was never "popular" in school, and this is not a rant or a whine about how unfair it is that some kids are popular and some kids aren't, that dear reader is just the way things were/are/will always be.  I knew I was cool so why didn't the cool kids recognize me as one of their own.  Haha, very funny.  Maybe it was because while they were all forming lasting friendships I was wrestling with some very crippling shyness.  I guess I came to the game late and ended up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to get people to like me.  "Trying" seems a little strong though it's not as though I was actively campaigning in a popularity contest.  I was certain though that being with the "in crowd" would solve all my problems.  Looking back I know that is not the case but at the time it made sense.  In the caste system of school age children I was an untouchable. 
When I started skateboarding things changed.
Back then in southern Illinois skateboarding was really only popular with a much younger age group.  There were a few of us older kids that skated though and we always got together after school at different spots around town.  With the rise in popularity of skateboarding with the younger kids it became popular for older kids to harrass them, call them names, play keep away with their boards, etc.  I can't tell you how many times cars would drive by and yell horrible things at me and my friends.  Sometimes they would drive closer to where we were to have some fun at our expense only to realize we weren't the young kids they thought we were.  Upon discovering that we were capable of fighting back they would usually call us "skate fags" and drive away.
With how mainstream skateboarding is today it is hard to remember that it was once very subversive.  It was something that upset the status quo, and to some that was not acceptable.  Despite the harrassment I loved skateboarding, still do as a matter of fact.  I loved it so much that one day I decided that if all of the cool kids that I so much wanted to be friends couldn't see how awesome it was or at the very least accept my love of it then they weren't worth my time or energy.  That was a great day, a great day indeed!  After that day evrything changed and I really started to feel better about myself.
I never really played team sports so I never learned all of those lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship but out on my board I learned so much more.  I became a mentor to the younger skaters, I learned problem solving, I learned how to build ramps, and so much more.  The most important thing I learned though was not to worry about what other people think.
If you love something do it!  Do it without fear or embarrassment.  If you don't you are sure to regret it.  Don't worry about what other people think in the end you are the steward of your own happiness, tend it well, and you will be rewarded without fail.