by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell
We’ve all heard of people picking up new and interesting hobbies through this pandemic. Baking bread, knitting, photography, jogging, woodworking, cooking. As a person whose main hobbies are reading and writing, I felt pretty well set up. But after almost a year of this pandemic, I must say there’s only so much reading and writing one person can do.
I looked for a new hobby, excited at the prospect of picking up something useful. The one issue: my delayed motor skills and various disabilities. My hands shake too badly for photography. Cooking is a study in my pathetic knife skills (and often a study in how many times I’ll cut my fingers). I have fibromyalgia, which makes jogging incredibly painful. Knitting? Embroidery? Painting? A pipe-dream.
I often struggle with feeling somewhat useless because of my motor skill issues. I feel that I lack something that others have without thought. Not everyone is artistic, but anyone can hold a paintbrush and paint a straight line. Anyone can mince veggies with enough practice. Anyone but me.
I bought a skateboard on a lark one day. I’d always wanted to learn how to skate, but never took the time to do so. I thought perhaps I would practice a little each day, and maybe, finally this could be my new hobby.
I proudly mounted my skateboard for the first time over the summer … and promptly fell on my ass. The board shot out from under me like a rocket, speeding down the sidewalk. I sat, stunned, nursing my bruised knees. My ego was even more bruised. This is why I never try anything new, I thought furiously. This is why I stick with what I’m good at — academia, theatre, books. Not physical activities.
I stormed inside, vowing I’d never skateboard again.
That is, until the next day. I crept cautiously out of my house, as if someone was going to swoop down on me. I placed my skateboard on the ground and climbed on. I got my balance and just sort of … stood there. That was all I needed to do.
Slowly, each day, I got better and better. One day, I made it down the sidewalk without falling. One day, I felt brave enough to skate in the road. And eventually, by the end of the summer, I was racing through the neighborhood with my dog, who pulled the skateboard as I sailed behind.
I was so proud of myself for sticking with skateboarding. I’m not very good at it, but it’s fun. It’s simple. And more than that, I proved something to myself: I am capable. My motor skills may be delayed, and it may take me a long time to absorb these kinds of skills, but I did it.
And if I can do it, anyone can.