Friday, September 28, 2012

The Legend of the Fall

Legends of the Fall

Thomas Wayne: “Why do we fall, Bruce?”
Bruce Wayne: “So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”
I remember the first day I got on a skateboard. It was the summer before my freshman year of college. My thought process was that a skateboard would be an EXCELLENT way to get around Carolina’s brick and twig-laden sidewalks. At the time, I was seeing a girl whose brother had skateboarded, so she became my mentor. (She actually was able to teach me how to push. Shout out to Jillian Allman.) We went Elon University’s campus. It was a beautiful summer evening, with the sun setting on the horizon. In other words, the perfect time to learn how to skate. Here is the end result:

In case you couldn’t infer, that’s me taking a sexy tumble. In the time since that little excursion, I can proudly say that I’ve figured out how to stay on my board. However, I strongly believe that falling was an important aspect of my learning process and is an important part of every skater’s skill arsenal.
Everyone falls when they start learning. But at that time, you aren’t going fast. And every time you fall, you learn how to make the fall a little less painful. For example, a common mistake most boarders make when they first start is trying to stop the fall with their hands, which, with the right amount of force, can break wrists. However, after your first time of landing on your hands, you know that it’s a way better idea to turn your body so you aren’t about to break any limbs.

Now imagine if you’ve never skateboarded before. Let’s say you’re standing at the top of a big hill with your badass, reckless friend. He tells you to just stand on the board. You do. Then you feel two hands on your back and you’re flying down the hill. Chances are, if you fall, you will be in loads of pain. Not only are you going fast, but you don’t have that falling muscle memory and you’ll find yourself real messed up. You have to fall at the beginning when you’re going one mile an hour so you can survive falling at fifteen miles per hour.
If you’re reading this blog, chances are, you’ve got some boarding experience. By now, you probably don’t fall too often. However, I submit to you that it is just as important for you to fall now as it was when you first started.

Skating is dangerous. You’re moving around on a board of wood with four wheels attached to it and the only thing keeping you on that board is friction. Over time, we all find ourselves becoming really comfortable with our boards. We ride it every day and it starts to feel like a fifth limb. But with comfort comes a higher chance of unnecessary risks, like taking a turn to fast or darting into traffic. To some extent, we start to think that we’re invincible.

This is why every skater needs a good fall every now and then.  We need that feeling of soaring through the air and thinking “Oh crap. This is gonna hurt.” We need to look down at our freshly ripped pair of shorts and think “Nooo! These were my favorites.” We need to see the blood and feel that pain for the next week. Finally, we need to pick ourselves back up and keep skating.
I promise that I am not trying to persuade you to fall off of your board. That’s dumb. I’m saying that it will happen because it needs to. And when it does, accept it. Learn from it. Whatever you do, just don’t stop skating.

Jimmy Branley is an Advertising major at UNC Chapel Hill and moonlights as your friendly neighborhood Spiderman on the weekend.