In 2002 (or so?), I had recently been divorced, and was working on getting the tattooed sleeve on my left arm finished. I was living on my own for the first time. I went to visit Jason Brooks (my tattoo artist) after the sleeve was complete so that he could see it all healed up. He had just made the art for some decks and was selling them at the shop. The art was awesome, and he threw in a set of skate wheels. That meant all I had to do was buy trucks and I had a working skateboard.
So I did.
And then I had a complete skateboard, so I figured I might as well start skating. And it would be harder to start the next year. So I got lessons at my local skate park and started scooting around.
I broke my nose, my wrist and injured both ankles in the process of learning to skate, but skating taught me something really important: I’m pretty tough. I can fall down, hurt myself and get back up again and repeat the process.
It was also the first place I learned about The Fear.
“The Fear” is a concept I first encountered in skateboarding. It is what keeps people from doing stupid things. Like skateboarding. You have to overcome it in order to do even the most basic things on a skateboard. My skate friends will talk about it in hushed tones. Making sure you try a trick again after a big fall, just so that you don’t develop The Fear. Because it isn’t failing that hurts you, it is The Fear. Doubting yourself when you should be boldly pushing.
A perfect example of this is dropping in. It is a move where you stand at the edge of a ramp, board clicked out on edge, tail of the board under your back foot. You then step out onto the front of the board and lean forward. Mechanically easy. Physically easy. Mentally/emotionally hard as hell. You have to just trust that you are going to make it through a 4-6 foot fall. And if you don’t do that, you basically can’t skate bowls or ramps.
The Fear is over come through patience and practice, or just taking a deep breath and pushing past it. Realizing that it is just a sensation and worse than the actual consequences of what ever it is you are afraid of.
The Fear is what stopped my boxing training. There was a span of time where we were sparring all the time. At the gym I went to, sparring was the real deal. It was a fight from the moment you got in the ring. I was getting hit in the head a lot and couldn’t control flinching. That meant if my opponent landed a few head shots on me, I would start flinching and then it was open season. I could take the hits. I was a decent boxer. But once The Fear settled in about the flinching I never did get past it.