The Utility of Longboarding

Longboarding_DownhillSeveral nights ago, as I was hurtling down a hilly street on my longboard at a speed that was somewhat less than sane, a thought (thankfully not a car) struck me. While longboarding is enjoyable to me for multiple reasons, the chief is that it gives me time to think. Rarely do I get these opportunities to silently mull over the events of my life and the current issues facing the world.

Some have posited in the past that the best way to engage in the activity of long, solitary thought is to take a long walk; I beg to differ. Walking gives one the impression that life simply meanders along at a steady pace, that one’s actions are of no real consequence, and a general feeling of quiet observance of the world with no real incentive, or even any ability, to effect it. It inspires a sort of peaceful, drug-like feeling of resigned complacence about the state of things.

This is due to the nature of the act of walking. One ambles along at a slow pace, placing one foot in front of the other. Any sort of immediate physical danger is seen far off, and can be dealt with without much thought or effort. One’s surroundings do not change rapidly at all. One is lost in one’s thoughts, harmlessly prosecuting the chosen course without too much complaint. If any surprising events occur, they are always quickly mitigated and soon forgotten.

For example, consider the man thinking over the decision to change jobs. He pops out for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood to clear his head and hopefully arrive at a conclusion. While he is lost in thought, he notices a dog charging across his path. He pauses momentarily to let him pass, and continues on. He trips slightly on some uneven sidewalk, but catches himself. The scenery surrounding him at the beginning of his walk is precisely the same as in the middle. An airplane passes high overhead. The sun slowly goes down. A flock of birds swoops low, but is gone before they cause any trouble. The man starts humming “Dust in the Wind” and arrives home without any sort of conclusion, but instead a feeling that it doesn’t really matter what happens anyway.

Then consider the same man on a longboard. As he skates down each hill, every second presents him with the exhilarating choice between life and death. Sidewalks being too narrow to accommodate safe maneuvering, his pathway must be the main road. Of course, this instantly adds the perils of cars hurtling along at speeds that cruelly tax his reaction time. Thus he must be able to think quickly to avoid certain collision and death. Beyond this, if he were to glance up to look at the aforementioned airplane in the sky, the opportunity for running into a dangerously rough patch of asphalt increases dramatically. All in all, the trip puts our man in the driver’s seat of his life, and makes him feel confident and capable when making big decisions. He goes into work the next day planning a graceful exit from his current company, knowing that he will soon be on to a better life of his making.

It is important to here distinguish longboarding from its base younger brother, skateboarding. Recalcitrant juvenile delinquents ride skateboards in an attempt to somehow make a statement about how unconventional they are. They try to do mildly entertaining “tricks” with them. Tony Hawk rides a skateboard. J.F. Baldwin, author and founder of Worldview Academy, a summer camp devoted to lectures on the Christian Worldview and leadership, rides a longboard.

The one benefit that longboarding shares with walking is its way of making one feel one with the world. The breeze catches the hair, the color of the sky deeply influences the mood, and each animal sighted provides new perspective. Just as one feels trapped and soulless in an off-white office lit with blank white light bulbs, so one needs to be put into a dynamic environment to truly be able to engage in thought. The outdoors provide just such an environment. However, the walker will be put into a catatonic feeling of quiet, unobtrusive observance, while the longboarder will feel a deep urge to become an active participator.


Discussion — 7 Responses

  • Peter Davis June 23, 2013 on 6:36 am

    As a fellow longboarder I agree with everything you’ve written. Longboarding has a way of clearing out the mind of all toxins, making it able for me to consentrate on the object at hand or just plain old empty the brain of everything. There is nothing better on this world than when you come to the top of a hill and crouch down into a tuck, no sound better than the rush of your wheels over tge road. You have perfectly expressed that thing that makes longboarding so relaxing.

  • Michael Brooke June 23, 2013 on 4:55 pm

    Lots to think about with this particular post.

  • Michael Stoker June 23, 2013 on 5:08 pm

    Well said. Well said….

  • Homegrown Longboards June 23, 2013 on 5:28 pm

    As of late, life has been stressful and naturally the first thing I turn to is my board. So when life gets hectic I grab the board and ride, which leaves many to ask,
    “Why are you going skating when you’ve got a decision to make here?”
    This article sums up the reason why I choose longboarding as the tool to calm the nerves and free my mind of the struggles it encounters daily which leaves me confident and capable of making the right decisions in life. I know the feelings yet, couldn’t find the words when asked for explanation and Luke Adams hit the nail on the head, special thanks to Michael Brooke for this post and the stickers.

  • Lyle Beaugard June 23, 2013 on 5:39 pm

    Sorry but I don’t agree with your assessment of skateboarders at all. I am 47 and have been representing the old school all my life and will continue to do so. I don’t think that our sport can afford such divisiveness when the general public already looks down upon the lot of us.

    What’s the hardest part of long boarding? Telling your parents that you’re GAY! See, such stereotypes can hurt can’t they?

    Any kind of skateboarding is good for the soul be it old school, new school, long boarding whatever. BTW, Tony Hawk has amassed a fortune of over $150 million and now spends most of it giving back to the community through his charitable foundation that builds parks and provides equipment for disadvantaged youths. Is he a “recalcitrant juvenile delinquent?”

    • Kenny Lyle Beaugard June 23, 2017 on 7:41 pm

      Precisely. I agree with everything except the writers distaste for skating. Yeah punks are lame but riding is riding and fuck the titles. A skatepark is amazing when you dont have hills. Go suck and have fun. Thats what its all about.


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