Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Kabbalah Scholar and His Skateboard: In the Beginning IV

Ambivalence: 'the simultaneous existence of two opposing attitudes, emotions, etc' (Collins Dictionary)

My next skate destination was 'Elwood Bowl', a place I often visited some seventeen years earlier. This skate park contains two oval shaped concrete bowls, one significantly larger and deeper than the other. Both are completely covered with graffiti, some artistic and elegant; most, messy and primitive. Skaters are diving into one end of the larger bowl using the transition to get immense speed and then launching themselves into the air at the other end with formidable height.

The bowls are situated on a small hill surrounded by a lush green park. Nearing sunset the atmosphere is serene, the birds make their presence known by chirping, and a few couples sit and enjoy the ambiance. An almost idyllic scene. The contrast between the skate park and its charming surroundings is sharp. Looking toward the parkland I feel an affinity, it's the atmosphere of deep contemplation. Looking toward the concrete bowls I feel distance, I'm not used to such intensity. I'm amazed, however, that the skate park doesn't seem to taint the picturesque scenery or disturb those within it. Relatively small, it appears to dissolve within the vast calm of the parkland.

In the Hassidic world one is repeatedly reminded to go beyond comfort zones in order to spiritually progress. It is taught that where you find the most internal resistance toward something, often, that is where your true calling lies, for at war a king has the most guards protecting him. With this in mind I walk into the small bowl carrying my skateboard. As I clumsily pump myself up and down the transition I realize how infirm my legs are and decide to stay near the bowl's flat bottom. After 15 minutes of warming up, however, I become more confident and gain some height and speed. That is, until I become wobbly and jump off the board.

I didn't fall, I deliberately bailed, yet my knee ached as though seriously injured. I limped back to my car with mixed feelings about the experience: on the one hand I felt too feeble to skateboard; on the other, I loved the smooth feel of coasting along the transition; it gave me a rush and I wanted more...                                                                               

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