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Burn the Boats


The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I have been rollerblading for about 15 years. When I lived in Albuquerque, it was my sole mode of transport, because there was no stress over parking and no one could steal your ride while you were in class. I’ve had a few major wipeouts but no broken bones. Back in the 90’s, when inline skating was kind of cool, Airborne was my favorite movie. I am only slightly embarrassed to admit this fact. I am the chick who knocked a stranger off a ski lift from 15 feet up and walked down an airplane aisle with toilet paper flapping out of her shorts, so I feel pretty resilient in the embarrassment department.  If I want to buy the movie Airborne on Amazon, I have the option of purchasing The Legend of Billie Jean/Airborne two pack. So that tells you something about the quality of the movie. The movie did star Jack Black as Augie and Seth Green as Wiley, and it included these awesome tag lines: “The world’s only Rock ‘N’ Rollerblade movie,” “Heroes aren’t made. They’re AIRBORNE,” and my personal favorite, “There are two kinds of people: those who get AIRBORNE…and those who don’t.”  That is so true.

I hung my skates up for a little while, but when the bootie boy got a pair as an Easter present from Nana and Papa last year, I had an excuse to go skating again. So on Tuesday the boy and I were at the park, helping out at my friend’s softball practice. The bootie boy got bored and wanted to watch the nearby skate park kids do what they do, so we walked over. There was nobody there. The fact is, I pass skate parks and feel regret; I wish I had tried it when I was younger, and now I feel too old, too worried about getting hurt, and especially worried about looking stupid. I was standing there, and I thought, what would Mitchell Goosen do? He would go for it. (ya’ll need to see Airborne). Actually, I really thought, how much longer am I going to let worry over what other people think rule my life? So my little bootie boy and I ran to the car, got our skates and gear, and hit it.

You know, it’s not easy, skating up and down ramps. Pretty much the ramp wants to throw you on your ass. I finally figured out you have to do a mini jump to switch directions, so after I got that down, and fell down a few times, I was able to cruise the hills a bit. I am still sore, but I was feeling so awesome about my abilities and my willingness to do it. And the bootie boy is still at the age when having me skating with him at a skate park is fine with him.

There is something about conquering an “I’ve always wanted to do that…” bucket list aspiration, even if it’s as minor as skating ramps at a skate park. This week I watched the Oprah interview with Tony Robbins (which rocked by the way), and I have been thinking about Tony’s statement: “If you want to take the island, burn the boats.” Man, that’s tough.  But, but, but… there is all this security in the boats, Tony. He is so right of course. My island is about growth and change, and uncertainty. It’s about writing, teaching, running more than a 5K, letting go, and being kind to myself. I feel like I’ve lived my whole life for certainty, seeking it out in all the things you are told you are supposed to do. I’m ready to live for a different purpose.

Do you guys remember this line, from Biloxi Blues, spoken by Arnold Epstein?

You’re a witness. You’re always standing around watching what’s happening, scribbling in your book what other people do. You have to get in the middle of it. You have to take sides. Make a contribution to the fight. Any fight. The one you believe in.

I don’t want to be a witness anymore. Witnesses might have nice bank accounts, but is that what life is about? I don’t want to play it safe, to watch the skaters at the skate park, or sit back and say, “oh, no, I couldn’t do that…”  Why the hell not? I know what it’s about: fear. But the thing is, you can work your ass off to keep things perfect, to avoid what you fear, and the feared thing  happens anyway. You turn into your mother. I’m just kidding, that didn’t happen.

So I am thinking, why not just go for it? There is no security, really. And I am strong enough to do what I want, to fail, to try again, and to live life to the utmost, as Eleanor said.

So what’s your island? Find it huh? And then burn the fucking boats. Yes I said it.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 03/30/2012 9:38 pm

    How do I like this times-eleventy?

  2. 03/31/2012 2:48 pm

    Funny you should blog, remind me to tell you about the boats I have just burned the f*ing hell out of !!!!!! Woo Hoo, bugs in my teeth, screaming through the universe.

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