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by Alex Pittman

Ever since I picked up a skateboard, I asked myself: why? Being a professional skateboarder was never a part of my future aspirations, and frankly I don't see it becoming one. So obviously I don't skate as a medium for survival. Only two of my other friends skate on a regular basis, so that marks out the dire need for affiliation. So what's the deal? Why is it that every time I'm not on my board, or I'm not watching a skate video, or I'm not thumbing through my photos and revisiting my latest footage, that I feel so...purposeless?

Now I'm going to revoke my last couple statements. It has become quite apparent that I DO need skateboarding for survival and affiliation. I already see where my life will lead me. Most likely, I'm going to be a poor journalist that protests on Capitol Hill and gets worked up on an article that I believe will make everyone socially aware, but in fact, no one will read. The odd thing is, I seem to have no problem with this seemingly self-inflicted damnation. Now how does skateboarding incorporate itself into the lifestyle I have just presented? Well don't think too hard because it doesn't. Nonetheless, I spent almost twenty-two hours this weekend filming and skateboarding, as opposed to brushing up on my writing techniques and political knowledge. I think it was the best weekend I've had in the past year. I rode around with those two other skater friends and we hit almost every spot we could think of, and not once did I think of that essay I'm writing on homophobia or the pro-choice article I've been struggling to close up. There you are right there, the need for life and association.

Furthermore, what is it that drives me to land that heelflip as smoothly as I possibly can, or to do that frontside shove it off the top of that wedge with my feet settled perfectly over my bolts? One could infer that if I didn't plan on making a future out of skateboarding that I would be content with anything, as long as I rolled away. But this isn't the case with me. In fact, when it comes to skating, I'm a perfectionist. One of my friends gets very annoyed with me when I don't keep a 5.0 because I scraped my tail for a split second. I haven't quite figured out why this is, maybe it's the anal retentive aspect of my commonly laidback personality showing forth. Or maybe I'm just not as chilled out as I thought. However I've come to think of this drive as something like an intrinsic reinforcement. I learned a long time ago that for every trick I picked up, my friends would add another three to their vocabulary. It becomes quite obvious that my skating for other people's entertainment would never measure up to that of my colleagues, so I resorted to learning my own tricks. I learned shove its. I don't care what anyone says, if they are done cleanly with a nice style I think it looks incredible. So I learned to do shove its down anything I could. People look at me funny when I get excited about such a "beginner" trick, but the fact that I do it for myself and no one else makes it that much more fantastic. That's how I identify intrinsic reinforcement. If I can do something that defies conventional roles, then I believe that it makes me stronger. Perhaps this helps me in the future I intend to pursue as well, knowing that I accomplished something without another's nod of approval.

I've developed a theory through all of my days of skateboarding that boils down to what I need from this art form. There is some piece of life we all need to participate in to make ourselves complete, whether or not we plan on implementing it or not. If that piece is skateboarding, making music, or writing essays and articles then I say you should do it, just to prove to yourself that you can. Without that small aspect, we become bogged down in what we feel we have to become, and we never get a chance to taste everything or to spread our wings and explore new boundaries. Its part of what makes us human and it adds to our staples of survival and affiliation. Don't let anyone tell you that what you do is purposeless, because you can always look that person in the face and say, "Fuck you, I did this for me not you."