Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Heroism

So I just finished writing my latest book and was discussing it with a coworker of mine. I may have written my first true tragedy. Instead of ending the book on a wedding, as seems to be a common theme in my stories (maybe I'm a hopeless romantic), the protagonist dies, and not even in a glorious way, sick, alone, and facing an antagonist that through the story becomes increasingly sympathetic to the reader (who also loses everything in the end).

If someone is dying anyway from a terminal illness, is it heroic to die fighting for some great cause? One argument from my coworker was that it is better to live to save others another day than to save someone once and not be able to do more good because you're dead. Save someone today, someone else tomorrow, and save another the day after that. It's better than saving someone today and not being able to save any more.

But if you're dying anyway, you won't have any tomorrows or the day afters to save others. You have today and only today. We concluded that to die having done nothing is far less heroic than to die trying to help. In the end, it is not the hero who decides whether they were heroic, it is decided by those saved. In fact, one could argue that it is more heroic to not believe in your own heroism.

I heard a statement that said, the difference between bravery and insanity is that the brave were afraid but did the dangerous thing anyway. Those that don't understand or care about the danger, are not brave but crazy or stupid. Heroism tends to tie into bravery. The hero is the one who didn't want to, was afraid to, but did the right thing anyway, even though it was hard.

Skate or Die, 720, or Please Just Don't Break Anything!

So we have the DB for the summer and felt we should enroll him in some fancy pantsy youth program to keep him entertained and build some skills of some sort. The first thought was more swim lessons. Then we got a flyer with our utility bill for summer programs and, right there among everything else, was Skate Camp!

"Ah ha!" I exclaimed as I heard the choir of angels sing in the background. "He'll love it and it'll be way more gnarly than that silly swim thing!" So we signed him up. In a way this was vicarious wish fulfillment for me as I loved skating as a kid and not just the video games from the 1980s (Skate Or Die and 720).

We dragged him over to the city's skate park on the first day with brand new gleaming pads and helmet and a five dollar skateboard from the second hand store. He had a good time learning the basics in his first class but none of the "cool tricks".

In his next class, he got a different teacher who informed us that his five dollar second hand skateboard was junk. They lent him one of the school's boards and it was night and day. He wasn't fighting it and could do much more.

The next day he added to his now slightly scuffed up pads and helmet, a totally rad new skateboard from the local skate shop. Everything from the bearings to the trucks to the deck were vast improvements over a wally world reject dropped off at D.I..
So yesterday, I took him to the skate park for some practice time and he was ripping it up in the bowl when I got this crazy idea that I could be a gnarly skater dad since I had skated on lousy wally world boards (sorry Mom, I really liked them at the time. I promise) as a kid too.

So I dropped into the bowl with my son's board and nearly broke my arms while the DB and a couple other kids watched. Dads need pads too... and maybe skate lessons.

Discussing it with the 12 year old Tony Hawk, he said that he wished the skate park had a bubble in the winter, like swimming pools, so he could skate year round because, everyone forgets some of their skating skills over the winter. I had a good twenty of those to forget how to skate, as if I was every any good to begin with. Going to the mall and back isn't exactly a half-pipe. Despite nearly killing myself and being totally outclassed by little kids a third my age, I had a blast on the first actually good board our family has ever owned (sorry again, Mom).

Watching my son go from having to stop the board and turn it with his hands to making smooth 180 kickturns in the bowl made me proud. He is working hard and getting better all the time!

So if you're wondering where we'll be, find us at the skate park practicing our fakie vertical 360 kick flips. I'll just have to get some pads before I try that one though... and a better life insurance policy. The kid, he's made of rubber, he'll survive anything.

Catch ya on the flip side dudes!