Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Skateboarding, Like Life, Is All About Balance!

In the corner of my office are two skateboards sitting side by side. A modern board and a replica of the same exact board I rode as a kid. Boards from two different eras and with two different approaches to skateboarding, but a common goal – Go! Go hard! Go BIG, and don’t let anything stop you or get in your way. Dude, I was a hardcore skateboarder when I was a kid. I could do all the tricks like roll on the sidewalk, roll down the driveway, and roll in the street. I was totally wicked!  I know that doesn’t sound like much in the way of far-out tricks, but in the 1960s it was all I knew, and all my hard wood, metal wheeled Roller Derby TM skateboard could do. The only time I ever caught air was when I hit an unforeseen rock or crack in the sidewalk. My board would stop abruptly, but I wouldn’t, and the momentum would send me flying.   In the sixties, catching Big Air on a skateboard was not a good thing. It was not a killer trick - though it could end up getting you killed.
Most of the time it just left you lying on the sidewalk scraped, bruised and embarrassed.  
It wasn’t until I got my first skateboard with clay wheels, in the late 60’s or early 70s, that I even attempted anything but just rolling. My new board was a Black Knight TM.  It too was a wooden skateboard, but it now had wheels that could take a bit more punishment and would allow me to actually jump off curbs and live to tell about it. This opened up a whole new world of skateboarding. Leaving the ground for a brief second and then negotiating a safe and balanced landing was cool…dude!   Cool until that one wrong landing which sent the ball bearings in one of the clay wheels flying into the street, again bringing the skateboard to another fatal and abrupt stop! Now the scrapes were coming from the asphalt in the street…bigger, more painful, and took longer to heal. Like the metal wheel board, catching Big Air still meant catching some kind of injury, and those darn rocks and cracks were still in play!  It wasn’t until the mid 1970s, that skateboarding really took flight…and on purpose this time. 
With the introduction of the urethane wheel, skateboards could now go where no board had gone before and skateboarding would never be the same, and never look back. I can remember saving up for a set of Cadillac Wheels TM, which came in a variety of cool colors. I’d buy four different colors (that’s what was up back then), attached them on my board early Saturday morning and then by gone for hours. Go, Dude, Go!  Skateboarding was no longer just a street sport. The best of the best were now attacking drainage ditches, reservoirs and swimming pools. Catching Big Air was now not only the thing to do, but the bigger, the better! Dudes were going for it and people were digging it.   Who would have thought that even today, forty years later, the “Big Air” movement would still be alive and even carry over into so many other sports like it has? Vert Ramps, Super Vert Ramps! Bicycles, motorcycles, snowboards, snowmobiles, jet skis, snow skis, water skis, and even surfing today are all about “Big Air!” 
     Life has become one huge, concentrated effort of attempting to fly. Trying to break barriers and not hold back.  Catching “Big Air” has even transcended sports, and become the battle cry of anyone wanting to exceed at whatever their attempting in life. You want to accomplish something – “Go Big or Go Home! Right?...Wrong!

The "Go For It at Any Cost!" mentality now has too many people  moving way to fast and getting caught up in the stress and worry that comes with trying to succeed at all cost! Check yourself and see. Are you so busy trying to create incredible moments for your life that you’re missing out on incredible moments in your life?

I now Thank God for the unforeseen rocks and deep cracks in the sidewalk of my life that stop me in my tracks, allow me to slow down, re-evaluate, get things prioritized and bring me back to earth. Sure there are bumps and bruises along the way, but it always seems to followed by some incredible healing.

Dudes, I pray that you achieve all your dreams. That you set goals and you reach them. Just don’t kill yourself trying. I think I’ll keep those two skateboards, from two different eras, next to each other for as long as I can. A reminder that there are times to sore and times to just roll through life!

Skateboarding, like life, is all about balance!

Keith Poletiek is an author, speaker, graphic designer, Award winning Political cartoonist and creator of the daily comic Dude and Dude (www.GoComics.com/dudedude) Distributed by Universal Uclick for United Feature Syndicate.


Friday, November 4, 2011

A "Cool Dude Moment" - Can't We All Just Get A Long...Board?

So, I’m sitting on the pier, watching the surfers below me tear up the waves. It was a good day for surfing, and the sun was out early. Sets were decent and the water was smooth.
     This spot on the pier, along with a Starbucks nearby, are my “go to” locales where I take my sketch pad and write ideas and concepts for my Dude and Dude comic strip (See www.GoComics.com/dudedude ).  There’s no better place to pick up some humorous material about dudes than by hanging in the midst of them…dude.

     Anyway, on this particular day there was good mix of long boarders and short boarders. All types of dudes catching their fair share of waves. Everyone was in harmony with each other and it created good energy and a cool vibe. I was glad I was there, even if the cartoon ideas were not going to flow that day. 
    There were young groms, old souls, and even a guy on a throwback, plain colored long board doing headstands. Yes, headstands! Some rides that went for 50 feet or more. He got hoots from the water and the onlookers standing next to me on the pier. Yes, I hooted. It was impressive, and I soon found myself actually following him in the water to see what he might try next. Hanging ten wasn’t out of the question for this longtime surfer; and I think, if there had been a girl swimming in the water nearby, he might have tried tandem. He was a standout. 
     There was another standout in the water below me that day, but not because of his surfing skill. On the contrary, it was his lack of skill that made him a standout. He was an older, pale man in his fifties, if not older, wearing a bright blue wetsuit and lying awkwardly on an equally bright blue soft board (both rented for sure). He was flailing in the whitewash, trying his best to catch what I believed to be his first wave ever. He had no skills, no timing, no sense of direction, and when he fell off the board it was quite a scene watching him track it down (no leash) and try to remount before another wave came crashing down, separating him from the board once again. He was a fish out of water, or non-fish in water.
     I had just started to feel sorry for him when a great moment happened, a “Cool Dude Moment” in my book.
     Following another money ride, headstand guy spotted “pops” attempting, unsuccessfully, to catch any water that moved and, instead of laughing him off, headstand dude paddled over and began to talk with him.
     You couldn’t hear the conversation from where we were, but you didn’t need to hear what was being said to know what was going on. The body motions and hand gestures of headstand guy were plainly giving out instructions to pops in an attempt to help him possibly achieve his objective that day - the chance of actually becoming one with a wave long enough to stand up and be counted. To accomplish something he had maybe planned to do for a lifetime. To check one more thing off his bucket list. Reach the ultimate goal in ocean waves…surf. 
     Dude, it was an amazing sight to watch two people who, by appearance, age, tan lines, and the social barriers we tend to put up far too often, come together in one spirit and with one purpose.      
      Headstand dude, who had been showing off most of the morning with his check me out maneuvers, had now decided to take the backseat and help pops go from accountant (look at me labeling, my bad!) to surfer!
     Maybe headstand guy reflected back on his first attempts to surf, or maybe he was just trying to make the water around him, and everyone, safe from the on slot of man and board that continually flew dangerously in their direction. Whatever his motivation was, his efforts and instructions began to payoff.

Soon, I, and most of the guys around me, had forgotten about all the good surfing going on. We didn’t care who was ripping it up out there, or who the next big name was. We were watching eagerly and silently cheering for pops! Go Big Blue!
         It took time, and repeated failure, but, with the unyielding efforts of daddy-o (he needed a cooler name), and the encouragement and instruction of his newfound surf coach, he actually stood up on the board, rode for 30 feet, raised his hands in the air as if he had just conquered Everest (which he had), and shook his fists in triumph at the people on the beach.
     We actually cheered from the pier.
     He then wiped out violently trying to look back and thank his mentor for helping him accomplish what he probably had determined was not going to happen that day, or any other day. He couldn't wait for the ride to end, he had to look back right then and say with just the look on his face, “Thanks, dude!”
     Daddy-o pushed his board back out in the water and stroked over waves with pride. He had a new look and swagger to his paddling and he drove his arms in the water pulling him further away from the shore.
     “He’s got the surfing bug now!” I thought. “He’s heading out for more.”
     No, he was paddling hard, but not for more waves, he was trying to reach his mentor as fast as his arms would let him. A stranger just minutes ago who had bonded with him in the waves.
     It was a memorable scene. Old and young, skilled and unskilled coming together…dude and dude!
     As he neared headstand guy, again, I couldn’t hear what was being said, but I knew, we all knew what was going on. Daddy-o then reached up and gave headstand guy an energetic high five, falling off his board in the process. Still more to learn about balance.
     A wave came along, scooped up the unleashed board and carried it to the shore.
     Headstand guy then scooped up Daddy-o on the front of his board and gave him a free ride to the beach. They talked for a bit and then Daddy-o headed up on the sand and headstand guy went back out in the water. Both were now on familiar ground, but for a minute or two that morning, all differences aside, they shared common ground. A surf lesson for us all. It was a “Cool Dude Moment.”

     Share a "Cool Dude Moment" in your life with us all.
     Or, better yet, go out and create a new one today. Break down some walls. Hang with someone different. Exchange valuable insight with each other.

The greatest thing one dude and do for another is to help them to stand!

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Keith Poletiek is the cartoonist and creator of Dude and Dude, a daily comic strip Distributed at GoComics.com by Universal Uclick for United Feature Syndicate. It is also seen daily on the comics pages of Yahoo.com