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  • Writer's pictureJerry Brook

Rollerblading through Life Part 1

Part one of two.

For those of you who don’t already know it, I enjoy rollerblading. For me, it is peaceful and invigorating all at the same time.

Here is what you might not know about rollerblading:

Before you set out on any trek, you must have the necessary equipment. You must be prepared physically, mentally, and emotionally.

It is an adventure, each and every time I go.

The Road Beneath my Wheels

To better illustrate the metaphor, let’s say the road is your path. It’s the journey that you are on. It is the same for everyone at that same place or point in their lives. It doesn’t treat anyone any differently. There will always be bumps in the road—some are so small that they are unnoticeable until you roll over them—and others are simply too large to overcome.

The bumps in the road represent the day to day issues that arise in your life. Some paths are your choice, and some are not. If you stick to a known, well-maintained route or continuously go around and around the same course, you can master that experience. If, however, you travel on paths that are not well-known to you, you will need to use considerable skills in order to navigate the obstacles in your path.

One of the first mistakes that people who are new to rollerblading make is to think that going slowly will be safe. They try to walk instead of roll. The truth is, you need momentum to get over the bumps, even the small ones. You must keep moving. Of course, there is the opposite problem of going too fast and losing control. In either case, and at all times, you need to know, or at least be able to assess your own skills and capabilities. In other words: don’t just go with what you know, know what you don’t. Know both your strengths, and your weaknesses. Know both what you can do and what you need help with. This is the key to success in rollerblading.

The bumps along the road are constantly beneath my wheels. I am constantly adjusting. From time to time, a pebble or a twig will throw me off balance and I will almost fall. To the observer, it looks as if everything is going smoothly, which is another way of saying we really don’t know from the outside what others are going through at any given time.

With all these obstacles in my path, why don’t I just give up? It’s simple, really. Because I didn’t fall, I proved to myself that I could handle the bumps, that I could get past the difficulties and complications. They are confidence builders, not destroyers. I say to myself “I almost fell, but I didn’t!

Another mistake that people make is with their focus. Some people choose to focus on their feet, looking down as they go. Others choose to focus on the horizon. Both of these philosophies are missing something: our focus needs to be on the road just in front of us, say ten to fifteen feet – that way, we can be ready for what is coming our way and can prepare for whatever action that we will need to take. Every so often and without fail, we should look far ahead to confirm and reaffirm that we are on the right path.

I disagree with the old saying “aim for the stars”. If you set your sights too high, you are likely to miss the things that are happening around you in the here and now. Isn’t that what Icarus did when he flew too close to the sun? You will get discouraged, as you won’t be able to measure your progress. Your scale of measurement will make any small advance seem insignificant.

When I have a great distance to skate, I notice that before I know it, I will have passed many short milestones. Added together, these milestones equate to a great distance. For me, I feel a certain pride in my accomplishments, a confidence based on achievements I have made that cannot be denied or belittled. You see, if something goes awry on my journey, I can always backtrack to the point where things were at least manageable, then regroup before I set off again.

The reason that I manage to get so far is simply because I keep going, not necessarily because I aimed for it.

The Wind in my Face

The wind is another obstacle you will encounter on your journey. With the wind, however, it’s impossible to see what is coming and therefore, you won’t know what to expect.

There are times when there is no wind and you can pick up considerable speed. However, when there isn’t a drop of wind, there isn’t anything to cool me down. Other times, the wind is so fierce that I must expend all my energy just to make a small amount of progress. To anyone on the outside, it would seem as if I am walking, not rolling.

And then there are times when the wind is just right – not too little, and not too much, just enough to keep me cool, but not enough to sap all my energy. Those are the times when rollerblading, like life itself, is breathtaking. Exhilarating.

Sometimes, the deer come out to watch me. Alright … not to watch me, per se, but to graze on the dew-covered grass in the warm sun. They take turns. One will keep an eye out while the others feast. They always pause as I skate past. I imagine that they’re thinking “What is that idiot doing? can’t he just walk like the rest of us? Humans! go figure!”

Do people ever take the time to simply look at each other like that as we go through life? Do they stop and wonder “What are they up to?” or “How are they doing, really?”

I encounter lots of other people in the park that I go to: the motorists, the cyclists, the joggers, the walkers – but hardly any rollerbladers! Some of them acknowledge me and some of them don’t, but we are all skating by on our own trajectory, doing what we do.

Your challenge

This week’s challenge (don’t worry, you don’t have to go rollerblading!) is to take some time and think about some of your own relationships. Think about:

  • What are some of the bumps that you have had to overcome in your relationships?

  • Do you take the time to learn from those bumps? Do you pat yourself on the back for having pushed past them?

  • Do you understand that “things are seldom what they seem”? In other words, when we assume (judge) that the lives of others are trouble-free, we are surely incorrect.

Good Together: your guide to healthy, happy relationships

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