Learning To Skate

At the beginning of 2015 I received a message that said “What do you think about taking the bull by the horns?”

“It can be a bit dangerous,” I said.  “You don’t know how it’s going to react.”

Honestly, I am so funny.

The message actually referred to an ice skating course, and it was from someone who was scared of ice.  Within 10 minutes we were both enrolled on to 6 ice skating lessons.

Truth be told, my friend wasn’t the only person who was pretty nervous when going to the rink for the first time.  I’m tall and “ungainly” and have a history of falling over easily.  I have a further history of hurting myself and this was an activity that I’d never really felt the need to do.

While a lot of sports have some sort of function away from the pitch / court / field / track etc, ice skating is only done for the purpose of ice skating in my opinion.  Maybe this is because I wasn’t good at so didn’t really get the aerobic benefit of, say, playing football or going for a run.  However, I’m never going to be walking somewhere, see a patch of ice, attach some skates, go over the ice, take off my skates and carry on my way.  That’s a bit of a faff, meaning that the everyday use of this skill is somewhat limited.

However, off we went.  I didn’t think the lessons were great, to be honest.  The first exercise was instructed like, “Right, skate over there.” Ideally, I’d have liked to have known how to skate first – angles of blades, pressures, balance points.  When I learnt to snowboard there was far more than “go over there”.

We muddled through 5 of our 6 lessons, missing one because I was on holiday.  I should probably have missed the last one considering I’d hurt my back, but was desperate for us to get our certificates.  Mine is still proudly displayed on my noticeboard at home, but then it’s right next to a 4 year old birthday invitation so that might not be saying much.

I’d like to go back, but I still wouldn’t class myself as a skater.  That wasn’t really the point though.  The point was to make it through and to face fears; it was about sharing the metaphorical journey and, in that aspect, I was so happy with my friend for what they achieved.

I was proud that I was part of that.  I think it’s a similar feeling to real journeys, to road trips.  Road trips take planning – you need directions, you need fuel, you need to check the weather and, most importantly of all, you need snacks and music.  Road trips usually happen with other people and as such they promote camaraderie through the shared experience and support.

However, let’s somewhat flip the discussion and say that you have a journey that no-one wants to share with you.  Despite the fact that I didn’t think it was a journey I wanted to make (I was told it was), someone once said to me that it was far too great an ask, and that they simply didn’t have the resources to take this journey I didn’t need to take with me and that it was unfair to ask.

What is a reasonable ask for a shared journey?  How far are you prepared to go for friends? Or a stranger?

Because the thing that disappointed me about not being joined on the journey I didn’t need to take was the feeling that I was then worth nothing.  I wasn’t worth the effort.  And I’m not talking about not being worth the effort in consideration of everything I’d done for the other person, I’m meaning that I simply, in that microcosm, wasn’t worth enough to someone that they would help me.

And this is the reason I think that, perhaps harshly.  On any journey, whether metaphorical or physical, everyone gets something.  You get new experience and new knowledge.  I learnt how to skate despite primarily going as psychological and, at one point, physical support for a friend.  I learnt about myself and what I was capable of.  Saying you’re not prepared to go on a journey with someone is like saying “I don’t need to learn that, it’s up to you”.

Shared journeys bring people together through shared experiences and it allows you to then empathise and understand and build relationships and a community.  It’s why I’ll always choose to share experiences than have them on my own.  They’re always better.

Calling over to seize my hunger
To see you to feel you
To be with need you

We hold out we hold on
I’m older colder
Here it comes light up my sky

[Chorus:]
Yeah we share the same sun
Everyday
Yeah we share the same sun
Everyday

White lights blinding
Headlights driving
To see you to feel you
To be with need you

We hold out we hold on
I’m older colder
Here it comes light up my sky

When my light is out for you at home
It shines for me in early dawn
We’re worlds apart but now I see
I’m in your heart whenever we are apart
And the sky shines bright

Live in the morning sun (in the morning sunday morning sun)
Our time has just begun (time has just begun has just begun)
Swim in the morning sun (in the morning sunday morning sun)
Our time to run will come

When my light is out for you at home
It shines for me in early dawn
We’re worlds apart but now I see
I’m in your heart whenever we are apart
And the sky shines bright

Yeah we share the same sun everyday

We Share The Same Sun by Stereophonics

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