Saturday, August 22, 2015

Wisdom From the Acient Masters of Alt.Skate-Board (Part 5)

Thoai Tran wrote 14 installments of Zen and Skateboarding. Here is Part 5. See introductory comments I wrote on this post for full context of the entire series. 

NOTE ON PART 5: In Part 5, Tran's writing does seem somewhat dated, mostly because he speaks of rollerbladers. They are now mostly absent from skate parks and skate spots. I am sure if Tran was writing this in 2015, he would be talking about scooters, or maybe longboarders (albeit they don't directly copy skate culture as much as rollerbladers did, and scooter kids are never found outside a skate park. When was the last time a scooter got in your way at your local curb?). That said, there are much deeper lessons in Part 5 than surface level distinctions between rollerbladers and scooter-people. One must not mistake the finger pointing at the moon, for the moon itself.    

Part Five: Songs of Life

I had a grudge against rollerbladers. I did not like the way they imitated skaters, wore the same style of clothing, use the same skate lingo, and pull off those lame easy tricks. I was disgusted to see rollerbladers everywhere, including at all the skate-spots. I listened to many skaters, as they condemned rollerblading, giving lists after lists of attributes that make our sport so much better, so much more beautiful. Master Ch'an was in the area, so I decided to drop by, and discussed my impressions with him about rollerblading. Surely the master himself must agree with me...and perhaps may even give some of his own reasons.

This was what Master Ch'an said:

"Every morning, I am greeted by this wonderful lark. It sings the most beautiful melodies as it flies down to one of the trees outside my house. It sings exactly when the morning sun is coming up, as though to greet the brightness of the day and welcome the inevitable sunshine. It does this every morning, regardless whether other birds are present. It does not seem to particularly care about the other birds, because it does not stop singing when they are around. It does not stop singing to see what the other birds might do, to contemplate its differences, to feel superior or inferior to them. It just sings and sings, every morning, day after day. It is the lark's inherent nature to do so, to do what is natural and perfect for itself. It is content with its own nature."

"My friend, too often have I seen arrogance among skaters. Like this lark that is content with its own being, if you are happy with who you are, then why should you let other people bother you, upset you? If you love what you do so much, then why should you stop and reflect on your differences with others? Why should you stop your skating to condemn others? It is your own inherent nature to skate. You skate because it is natural, it is a reflection of you, not because others aren't the same as you or aren't part of your reflection. Does this lark stop singing because other birds are around? So you too must not stop skating when other people, who may not have the inherent nature to skate, but perhaps to ride a bicycle, or drive a car, or do things on rollerblades...when these people are around. Another bird can sing beautiful melodies just before twilight or can fly longer distances. Does that make this lark or the other bird inferior or less beautiful? Absolutely not, because it is still beautiful with its own special inherent nature. "

"My friend, let skating become the locus of your universe. Let it become part of your reality, part of your inherent nature. Skate because it is natural for you and for you only. Like a lark that sings the most beautiful melodies, use your skating to bring refreshing melodies into your life. Don't stop skating when others are around you. If you see rollerbladers around you, don't get upset and let them ruin your skating. Why should others ruin what is natural, what is inherent, or perfect for you? Learn to appreciate the beauty of your own skating, as well the beauty of others. Sing your own melodies that will greet the burning sun within you."

"Just shut up and skate"*

So spoke Master Ch'an

*T.A. Paterson

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