The passing of traditions comes in many shapes and sizes. For some it might be a mother sharing a special recipe she learned from her mother. Similarly, the technique of how tie a particular fly might be passed from a father to a son while fishing along the banks of a mountain stream.
“Lean forward,” said the father to his son. “Fall into it. Trust yourself.”
Sitting on the coping of a local skatepark, I am looking out across the deep, white bowls of a local park as parents are teaching their kids to skate.
His son, wrapped up in elbow pads and a helmet, looks unsure and unsteadily towards his father. Trusting his dad’s instructions, the boy leans into the open space and falls towards the open concrete floor below.
The boy, after falling forward, hangs on for a few feet before his fear of gravity gets the better of him and he bails out – skidding across the concrete on his pads.
“Good job,” said the dad, obviously proud of his son. Dressed in a tank top with tattoos spreading down his arms, he too is passing along a family tradition.
Walking across the park I find another parent walking alongside his son as he learns to navigate the rolls of the beginner’s side. Both are laughing, particularly the father.
I finally take another spot along a high vertical wall and dangle feet over the edge. Skaters of all ages race below me. For someone whose better skating days are nearly four decades behind them, it is a heartwarming experience in an odd, surreal way. You see, if you know me, you probably know I was a competition skateboarder in my teens. To me, skating was a defining part of my life. Along with my friends, we’d be out all night skating on anything concrete or that offered us a chance to defy gravity. Sure, we broke a few rules along the way, but for the most part we were harmless to others and ourselves.
So ingrained in my life is skating, my wife even surprised me with a very special ‘dream skateboard’ for a birthday a few years back. Heck, rarely does a month go by I don’t hope on my skateboard for grins.
Speaking of my wife, she’ll quickly tell you stories about her repeatedly getting phone calls from well-meaning neighbors about me shooting hills with our kids one of my skateboards. And to this day, I’m proud to say, both my son and daughter can skate circles around most of their friends.
Which brings me back to my feet dangling over the coping on top of a tall vertical wall. From my vantage point, both the one of age and elevation, I can see the past, present, and future in one view. Life, memories, and traditions are being created all around me.
As I get up to leave the skatepark I pause at a nearby bench. Sitting there is a grandfather calling out encouragement to his grandson.
Yeah, that’ll be me one day. But odds are, I’ll be at the bottom of the bowl with my gear on.
– 30 –