Monday, May 16, 2011

Samuelson and Broken Skin

Most of you, who might read this, will have no idea what it’s like to live your life as a “wanna-bee”. But I do. Ever since I can remember, I wasn’t good at conventional sports, nor was I the stellar academic, albeit I believe my IQ is genius or above, and my graduate studies kept me in the 3.0 or above GPA, that means nothing to those who issue credentials for the elite or the like in kind. But you’ve got to consider I was raised in the home of a staunch Democrat… Old School though.

As I found myself in the back of a station wagon riding to Sacramento California in 1974, I remember me and Chris, listening to Led Zeppelin on a little Radio Shake cassette player. I’d never heard them before, but my parents didn’t stop us. All the while, the warm winds of California blew through the windows of our 1972 Vista Curser. Who could argue with life on this level?

Somewhere around 1975 I realized something; skateboarding. Oh it was far from the mainstream at that point in history, but it was something that I could do, and didn’t need anyone else, but me. In the early days, I road barefoot on a plastic or aluminum board until my feet looked like hamburger. But no one noticed. I’d spend hours after school down at Samuelson Elementary ALL BY MYSELF; trying anything I could, on those four urethane wheels.

I remember tying a string across an area on the south side of the school and learning to jump over the string. Then I built some standards and used a piece of wood trim as the bar to learn how to jump up and over and land back on the board; hours and hours by myself. No coach, just me and me. No magazines to tell me what to do, just me and my imagination.

Can I tell you, I lost more skin at Samuelson Elementary than most guys lost on the practice fields of any local junior high school field of practice? To this very day, my entire joint system aches, because of the trauma experienced at the mercy of any given concrete of my day. And why; seriously why?

Because I was looking for that niche, that spot, that place in community where everyone cheered! Yet reality begs different.

I spent hours and hours figuring out the nuances of balance and forte in the art of skateboarding; because it was the only thing I knew. It was the only thing that WORKED FOR ME. Yet I found no place in the professional world.

I found no place in the ranks of those who wore navy blue and wingtips. I found no place in the ranks of those who kissed ass and played the party line, all the while ignoring Biblical precept. Can you live in the Kingdom and not follow biblical precept or principle and still get a place at the table? I wonder.

As it stands, I left lots of skin on the asphalt and concrete at Samuelson Elementary and on the plywood at the Birdland Marina half pipe and elsewhere… and why? Because I just wanted to FIT IN; that’s why! So tell me I’m sick. Tell me I need “Christ-Life or Cleansing Stream” and I’ll tell you I need Jesus. Not you’re marketing schemes or 18 week discipleship program. I need Jesus…

And who among you has the stones to be Him? If so, call me: 515-491-8285.

PS: Rent “The Lords of Dogtown” and get a glimpse at what my life was all about in 1976.


  1. I think ALL of us have felt that weird need to "fit in" and realized that we just don't make the grade. I've always been an uncool geek and finally just learned to come to grips with it...and let the chips fall where they may. I think turning 40 had something to do with it. Love ya, brother! =)

  2. Ruthie, you're not the first person I've heard say that about turning 40. Sounds like a beautiful milestone of self acceptance to me. And Uncle Russie, I always thought you were the coolest Uncle! Not fitting in as a kid helps you see those on the margins and gives you compassion for them. I never forget what it feels like to be the "new kid" or the Nerd or the poor kid or the one who eats lunch by herself everyday or the only one not invited to the party or the one who wears hand-me-downs... but all those things have made me who I am today. Interesting.