Carve Therapy

Skateboarding was my first love. It was the first thing that seemed to come to me on its own; the first thing I couldn’t wait to do when I got up, whether or not anyone else was around or doing it. I did it for me, and the feeling I got.

In my teenage years, it signified so much of what I felt: rebelliousness, restlessness, creativity, fun, physicality, and a way of looking at the world around me differently. Pavement and concrete became both a canvas and a playground. Skateboarder Jason Adams says it best in a short video that captures just about everything I feel, remember, and look forward to with skateboarding (the video, not just the quote):

“I remember my biggest fear in life was to grow up and be normal. I was terrified of that.” -Jason Adams

I was 13 when I got my first skateboard. It was a Sims Flagship from The Sunshine House in Ocean City. It looked like the cover for The Who’s Greatest Hits, a British flag close up. I can’t count how many more I went through over the next five years. I plastered my walls with photographs from Thrasher and Transworld Skateboarding Magazines. Skating was an activity, sport, and art form that defined my teenage years.

Skateboarding resurfaced for me about 10 years ago, when I bought myself an Element Skateboard for my 35th birthday. My daughters got a kick out of watching me ollie over things in the driveway, but it didn’t give me the feeling I used to get as a kid. Then Landy Cook grabbed a hold of long distance skating, and a few of us would meet in the pre-dawn dark with headlamps and skate from Easton to Oxford and back before work. This was closer to what skating used to feel like, but limited.

Now we’ve hit a sweet spot with the surf/skate flow that Carver Skateboards has made a wave of. It’s not about tricks or hopes of being a great skater. It’s flow, it’s fun, it’s getting lost in the moment. It’s hearing your friends in their 40s and 30s, during their lunch breaks, or mornings or evenings, outside carving around on a skateboard. It’s riding skateboards to work. As a couple friends put it, it’s “carve therapy.”

It’s meeting as a group in the mornings to surf on asphalt and imbibe a sunrise, talking about life, fatherhood, camping, and stoking the fire of being alive and having fun; making mornings, days, life, a little different. There is something to skateboarding now, as years ago, that says life on your own terms.

* Image at the top is a still/screenshot of Carver Skateboarder Yago Dora from the video, “Under the Above.”

Summer as a Verb

Summer means different things to different people. If you are a kid, it means no school. If you dig the water, it means game on. If you are in Maryland, it can mean eating steamed crabs, rockfish season, river swimming, and/or lightning bugs. Maybe it means family vacations.

Winter and spring this year were fully scheduled. Events and programs at the community center; three different evening small groups at Christ Church Easton; lacrosse season and school for the girls. All great things, which drove where and when to be and what to do.

Summer right now is an opening up of the schedule. But in some ways, I can already feel this notion of chaos taking over from order, or inactivity as a response to hyperactivity. So it’s time to create fun and balance and challenge all at the same time.

Yesterday morning, I found Paul’s Letter to the Galatians staring at me:

…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. (Galatians 5, 22-25)

That is a great reminder, note to self, and guide for how to approach summer, or life in general, every day.

With all that as backdrop, I like making fun “to do” lists. Here’s one for the summer months.

1. Summer reading – read three unread/unfinished books from my bookshelf. My “to be read” stacks of books grow and books I have started or wanted to read get cast off. I started yesterday by picking back up T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King,” White’s wild take on the King Arthur legend, an imagination-shaping story for me as a kid, a favorite book of my brother-in-law, a book I have started and not finished. I am giving myself to the end of June. Other likely contenders are James Hillman’s “A Blue Fire,” Richard Rohr’s “The Divine Dance” and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions.” Every summer should have some Vonnegut.

2. Regular running – as a 5-mile run yesterday evening can attest to, I have some work to do. I let my running slide this winter/spring, and it is one of the habits that rights my body and mind.

3. Paddleboarding – at least 50 miles of summer paddleboarding. More than doable without being a stretch goal at all. I’ve just written about stand-up paddleboarding on the Shore, I live walking distance to the water, make the miles happen.

4. It’s called Natitude – go to five Washington Nationals home games (September counts). When I worked in DC, it was a habit. The girls are Nats fans and enjoy live baseball, and we haven’t caught a Nats home game the last two seasons. Time to change that.

5. Prayer – My deepest connections and most meaningful moments are when I can feel the Holy Spirit at work, when I “let go and let God” to quote a friend and small group leader. That happens more frequently when I silence and open my mind. Making time for prayer is an integral part of being guided by the Spirit.

6. Life’s a Beach – we’ve got our annual Ocean City pilgrimage on the map for July. But Assateague Island is easy. Boat and paddleboard beach exploring. Make more time beach time.

7. Go new places – I’m going to keep this broad. It could be trails, small towns, road trips, scheduled or unscripted.

8. Grow things – summer mulching has begun. I need to plant tomatoes again and regain that connection to the earth, even potted flowers and plants and the habit of watering in the mornings while drinking coffee.

9. Make a skateboarding adventure – there are a few folks who I think will be on board with this. We’ve pondered the Western Maryland Rail Trail before. I don’t know what this might become or where, but I want to recapture the feeling skater¬†Jason Adams talks about here.

10. Live music – summer and live music are meant to go together. In June, we’ve got Josh Ritter at the Avalon Theatre and The Specials in Baltimore on the books. The Avalon has outdoor music on Harrison Street, the community center will be having Philip Dutton and the Alligators, just to name a few.

This list is hardly exhaustive, but it’s a way to shape thinking about the summer. A way to carpe the diem. John Eldredge wrote something that resonates with me: “We are created for adventure, and if we cannot find one, we start blowing things out of proportion so it feels like we have one.”

In the case of adventure, or summer, it can also be a state of mind. Be guided by the spirit, and approach these days, weeks, and months for all that they, and we can be.