Skate Scene Rant with Gerhard Nel

Skate Scene Rant with Gerhard Nel

Skate Scene Rant with Gerhard Nel

 Bear with me for a few paragraphs, and it might all make sense.

Photo by Anton Pratt

Recently articles about the growth of longboarding have been popping up all over the place. Some writers deliver sound arguments, others vent. The older generations are the ones to realise that longboarding is a close tributary about to connect to the mainstream, while the younger generations are the ones fuelling the fire of progression. Although not the first boom in skating, longboarding provided skateboarding with the necessary elixir to grow younger and age in reverse, and if I could guess, I would say that skating is a teenager again.

I am no industry guru and definitely no hero, but I feel the need to shed some perspective on the act of skateboarding and the value of it to you as a person. No matter what your skating denomination, what you like to do or what you hate, you have one common characteristic to your skating peers – that of actually skating.

Believe it or not, to a lesser or a fuller extent, all skaters skate. Every now and again the skater would get up from the computer, don a board and go shred. He might mimic something seen on a recent video, or he might be thinking that his wheels are too grippy, his trucks too tight or his board too long. He might try his best to improve and land a sponsor, or maybe he just enjoys the feeling of rolling momentum. Each skater is a person, and each person is different, therefore each skater is different.

As the sport grows and as the internet increasingly becomes a web of inspiration and brain-fuckery, skaters tend to cloud their minds a bit. Focus could perhaps be placed on unnaturally high progression, competitiveness or pleasing others. The only point of landing a switch toeside, then, would be to mimic this week’s hero or to prove that one is worthy of a title, some respect and perhaps even to be called steezy.

But every now and again, when the competitive drive is caught off-guard and one’s progression hits a plateau, something magical happens. That moment when you really feel rocks whether your slide is the best, whether you will be on youtube or whether you will ever skate swiss hairpins. That feeling of rolling down a hill, breaking a sweat and concentrating on the current moment. A complete ego-death. Not tomorrow, not yesterday, but now.

In this moment of perfect concentration, the mind is clear and the body clean. The amalgamated plethora of variables is collectively ignored and nothing exists, yet everything is created. It isn’t necessary to think, but just to be.

I have been reading up on transcendence, meditation and these kind of hippie topics for a while now. In short, meditation is that moment when body, mind and soul are in sync. A meditative state is reached through relaxed and comfortable concentration, up to a point that it feels as if one isn’t concentrating at all. It’s that feeling of slow motion or bullet time, when a second on your board feels like a few minutes. Look at the footage, and you might realise that your body reacted without you even registering it.

Photo by Paul Du Plessis

This brings me to the salient point of my argument, and a crisp one at that. When you are in this relaxed state, your livelihood is at full potential. No insecurities cloud your mind and the act of skating becomes an end in itself, rather than a means to an end. There is therefore no difference between a skater shredding the gnar, a Buddhist monk standing on his head or a Priest locked into prayer mode. It is in this state that you are at your most content, as your soul has found its happy place. This feeling is primitive, older than speech, and mystical.

When one reaches this content state, creativity and passion will flourish and shine – as clear as daylight. Your energy and stoke will be contagious, and your skating will showcase this. Friends will be made, fun will be had, and balance will be found.

My conclusion is that skateboarding isn’t about genre, merits or status. It’s about letting go. It’s about freeing the mind. It’s about conquering fears and having fun. Just look at people like Rodney Mullen and Mark Gonzales. Both of them look like kids, ageing in reverse, and developing their own universe as they go along. That is what I aspire to.

So stop spending all your hard-earned cash on this season’s hits, stop oogling at google with foam in your mouth-corners, and stop being so fucking competitive. Sit back, get to know yourself, and ride your board. Although it is the riding of skateboards that caused the current boom in skating, it wouldn’t take the lack of riding skateboards to kill it. So unplug yourself from the database for a while, find your happy place, and go there as much as possible. It might be foreign, but the results will be profound. If it doesn’t work for you, return to the cesspool, and leave the rest of us be.

As for me, I never thought I would connect with my inner Neanderthal through skating.


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