Thoai Tran wrote 14 installments of Zen and Skateboarding. Here is Part 6. See introductory comments I wrote on this post for full context of the entire series.
I work at a bar. It closes at 2am. My sessions often don't start until after 3am. Thus, I often skate alone, and very late at night. Part Six rings true, in many ways.
Part Six: Shining Star
One night, Master Ch'an reflected.
"I come here to skate at this spot each night. I am always alone. The groups of kids which came here together had departed from this place together. The sounds of the boards popping against the ground, the crackling grinds on the waxed curbs, and the yellings and screamings had since departed with them too. As I sit on this board, catching my breaths after a long session has just ended, my eyes gaze at the stars that line the blackness of the night's skies..."
"Each of those stars that my eyes are fixed upon is so far away from my body and my world, and from each other. Each has a certain shine unique to itself. One star seems to have a constant shine; while another sparkles on and off, on and off. Another star appears to have a brighter glow, perhaps indicative of a closer distance to my world; while that little speck above me is barely noticeable. Each is so far away, so alone in the infinite vastness of the universe. Yet each shines ever brightly, for years and years, and for many years to come...and for many years, each has been looked at, scrutinized, and mapped out by traveling sailors who look above for guidance..."
"The road to the stars is never easy. It is always traveled alone. While others are engaged in futile mimicry of fleeting trends, I find myself alone at this spot, to pursue that which is eternal and infinite, to self-cultivate my own spiritual being, to be in harmony with myself, my skateboard, and my infinite universe. While others are engaging in senseless competition, to see who has the higher ollie, to see who can do the most flips, to see who has the better skate clothes, I find myself alone to cultivate my own development and perfect my own art...Thus my spiritual development will indeed shine."
"While others wait for the telephone to ring, I find myself alone at this spot, because I am the one who has decided to go skating, regardless whether others just happen to be in the mood to do so, regardless whether others are planning a get-together. I have taken it upon myself to do what is natural and perfect for me, because the road to the stars is walked upon by my own two feet..."
"Although other people may not agree with my ideas, have the same tastes, dress the same, or look the same as me, that does not justify my looking down on them, feeling superior, or becoming arrogant towards them. Like a fruit that looks so fresh and ripe on the outside, but is rotten with maggots and worms in its core, an arrogant skater is nothing but a spoiled fruit that ruins the whole barrel. I am alone, but younger skaters shall look up to me for guidance because I am the only one who shall show them the right directions when they are lost. I am the only one who shall show them how to slide their front foot during an ollie. Although my repertoire is limited in the number of complex maneuvers and intricate flip tricks, I am willing to extend my hands to others when they need my help. Like the familiar star that greets the lost traveler, I will thus shine..."
"Like a star that is fueled by unmeasurable amount of energy, I am fueled by my love for skating. All tangible materials are fleeting and shall be lost with time. The skate shoes that I wore when I first started had since long disappeared, to be replaced by the different ones, with different colors, and different styles. But they too shall disappear with time, and many skaters will disappear with them. But this fuel within me, this love, is intangible and all encompassing. It shall continue to burn, long after the night's darkness is replaced by the morning's brightness. Friends come and go, and they too shall disappear into the night's darkness after the skate session has ended. But the love shall remain to shine in the darkness of night. Even when the clouds cover the skies and prevent other people from looking at this brightness, it does not matter to me, because I know that it is still there...to burn for me and me only. Even when my flesh is covered by different styles of clothing, it does not matter, because that glow shall remain the same..."
"The road to the stars is never easy...It is always traveled alone...but it always good to have love as your traveling partner..."
So shines the star...