Long drives for waves that might not pan out. Jarring my ankle from yet another bail. Mountain biking to the point my lungs burn. Hacking on something no one in the universe cares about except me. Redoing a sketch for the hundredth time. Writing this nonsense for an endeavor that will probably fail. What is the point? A guy approaching fifty at mach two who does not care about the lawn. Why can't I be normal, content to have the job like every other schlepp, wash the car, maybe buy a power sprayer? Because I am fucked up, there is a monster inside me that can't be content with normal.
People who know me well say things like I have a good sense of humor, I am a nice guy and like to do fun things. I acknowldge that guy, that version of me that does their job, files their taxes and takes care of business. If it was not for skateboarding and surfing that personae would be somewhat different because buried underneath the cutting humor is a raging animal. An animal created by who knows what? Many things, too many to enumerate here and I am sure my two or three readers don't care. The truth is: underneath we are all hiding something. Maybe something a little dreadful. No one has really seen me raging ... my skateboard has.
Skating can be violent. It is inherently violent. It is fueled by a dance of aggression and grace. I don't care what gender one identifies with - I know both aggression and grace occur along a continuum for a skater. We do feel better when we slam that deck, sometimes a little bit, sometimes more. We survive and brush off what normal people would say is a close call with death. All the time. Ever accidentally skated in front of a car and raced out of the way? Yeah me too. Ever ollied so hard it shocked the body? Ever done a bank carve and pulled so many muscles it felt like you slipped on ice? It is an externally and internally violent past time. For some of us it is one of the ways we let it all out. Skateboarding is a strange thing as it can be graceful, wonderful, deadly, hardcore, all at once. My monster takes to skateboarding like nobody's business.
Surfing is also violent in a different way. It sure doesn't look like it if you have never done it. When I say this to people who have never surfed (or done anything that might be an analog) I immediately have to follow it up with an explanation. Yes, there are a lot of things going on while surfing , but the violence is manifested by the unpredicability and power of nature. Even a small wave can take an unexpected turn. On one occasion I was on a tiny wave, maybe a foot or so, and it suddenly closed out, scooped up my rail then flipped the board out from under my feet. I went down and landed on a rail right front rib cage first. I am still living with that injury six years later. Then there is the bad wipe out which has been known to kill. I am lucky: my worst wave wipeout only led to me getting out of the water.
So why do it? Putting aside the obvious like it is fun, healthy, provides stoke, gets me away from nonsense (including my own); personally I need it. My monster still wants to be fed. I don't like hurting people. I am not cut out for those sports where you either beat on someone or pretend to beat on someone or whatever. I need the juice man - that is all there is to it. I will lose my shit without it.
Does that mean it is always like that? No of course not. I have my lazy day sessions, nice clean rollers. Or those days I ride a longboard skate setup and cruise along. But the violence is a part of it. Some days, depending on the circumstances, that is all it is. Usually, it is a weird mix. One of the first articles I wrote for this zine-thing was about a surf trip to Maine. That trip encompassed all of it. Going out was insane there were surfers being picked up and tossed out of the turbulent inside. Then it changed to glassy and soulful.
Maybe I have it wrong. I do not think we as avid risk seekers (and I don't seek out huge risks) are particularly different in that our internal aggression or risk seeking is unique. Perhaps what really sets us apart is we don't hide it, we do not run from it, in fact we run towards it. We do not use it to hurt other people. We choose to embrace the madness in the name of fun, people call us crazy - most of us know they have it backwards. I do not know where these demons come from, people way smarter, way more educated than I are still trying to figure that out. I am just a jackass with a website. What I do know is: my monster isn't going anywhere and a big part of me doesn't want it to.