Things have changed, but it's still a beautiful thing watching these kids work on a trick, bleeding, twisting ankles, breaking wrists, smacking heads on concrete, working for that one moment when everything works, when the practice pays off, the pain, the hours, the concentration as the board flies slowly through the air, twisting, unconnected to torn shoes and worn soles, sliding down the steel rail, screeching metal on metal, then a slap of the wooden tail, and board, rider, and wheels float, punching gravity in the stomach, arms out, hair flying, and then, everything comes together, knees absorb the impact, the board bends, and the rider, teetering on the edge of balance, lands and with a half-smile that hides the joy exploding in his head, slowly glides away.
I just watched a movie trailer, and I can't remember the name of the movie, but it was about a kid who wants to surf Mavericks, one of the most dangerous waves in the world, and the kid's friend says this is about more than just surfing, it's about finding that one thing in life that sets you free. I feel a connection to these kids as I watch them fall again and again before finally landing that one trick that has taken hours, days, and weeks of practice. It's a feeling that transcends sports and drives us to do better, to work hard for something, to not give up on it, and to feel that flow when everything comes together, that feeling that sets us free. And as I sit here, a skateboard dad, watching my son fall as Fugazi screams in the background, I can only hope that he finds that feeling, too.