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.



  1. Wow, really good post. I enjoyed it a lot :)

    Have you watched the movie LORDS OF DOGTOWN or seen the documentary called DOGTOWN STORY?

    If u haven't then do check'em out.

    Tc, dude.

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  4. I enjoyed your account of skateboards since it so closely mirrors my experiences.

    The Black Knight was my first skateboard followed by a Hobbie, both had clay wheels. For Christmas, my parents got me my first set of urethane wheels. I quickly ditched the old clay wheels and trucks and screwed on the new shinny smooth wheels. I set up at the top of the hill that I would always bomb; without regard to the fact that this board, with the new wheels, was now supercharged compared to the old set up. Near the bottom of the hill the board started to wobble with the speed and down I went. While I was lucky to not break anything, I lost a lot of skin and spent the rest of Christmas day under covers in shock. I was skating the next day with bandages; those urethane wheels were just too sweet.

  5. Love this style of furniture and you are a master at executing it to perfection.

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