“The world will tell you how to live, if you let it. Don’t let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you.” – Shauna Niequist from Present Over Perfect
Finn saved his birthday money to buy a skateboard. He’d been talking about it for weeks and had his heart set on one. A green one, with dragons and red stripes and a shark- nothing specific.
So one Sunday, we went to Target and let him test all the skateboards they had.
Now, he had never been on a skateboard before. He’d seen something on a movie and couldn’t wait to do flips and go to the skatepark. Kyle and I told him gently, softly that skateboarding might be harder than it looked. But that he could do hard things with practice and with heart. And kneepads, elbow pads, his helmet and a bubble suit.
He test rode all the skateboards. All the skateboards that still had plastic on one wheel, making them infinitely slower. Making this dream of his seem possible under the fluorescent lights. We picked out safety gear, Darth Vader style, and off we went.
He stepped on in our front yard, timidly and using his dad for support. But the sidewalk was too bumpy. So he went out into the street in front of our house. But after one step, he deemed the street too bumpy too. So we walked to the industrial building in our neighborhood- smooth, black asphalt and even a few slopes to really get some speed. Very skater-y. Nope. This one was too smooth, too fast.
We cheered him on and urged him to keep trying but eventually he came and sat on the curb next to us, sweaty and disappointed. And as he watched his older brother zoom past on his scooter, we saw him give up. I just want to scooter, he said.
But Kyle came to the rescue. My 6’2″ husband of the century laid himself down on that kid sized skateboard and rolled around on his belly, smiling and only looking slightly uncomfortable. Finn stood up from his spot on the curb.
And that’s how the next hour was spent. Rolling around on his belly, his safety gloves protecting his hands from the hot, August asphalt. He peppered in a few more tries standing up and when he came back inside, he was grinning. And already asking when he could do it again.
These kids, you guys. They are wise little souls. And so brave. How often do we quit something because it’s not perfect? Or the road is too bumpy or it’s not what we thought? Or something else goes zooming past us and we think, that looks easier. It has handlebars, I’ll just do that instead. Or we don’t even start something because the time isn’t perfect or it looks too hard from a distance, from our spot sitting on the curb.
Maybe it’s not about looking perfect doing something or looking like the picture on the box. Maybe it’ll take a few tries and some scrapes and scratches before we’re standing up. Maybe standing up isn’t even the funnest way to do it. Maybe we need to just lie down on our bellies and glide.