Monday, May 31, 2010

Wheels: Part 2

Before those fracases between this boy and his motorized machines, skateboards came on the scene. I don’t know exactly who first thought of the idea; perhaps it began in California. All I know is the big kids on the block started toting pieces of two-by-sixes with roller skates screwed or nailed into them. Us younger kids in my neighborhood found a long two-by-four and affixed a couple of pairs of roller skates to it and the entire block of kids (I don’t remember the actual count) climbed aboard and headed down the street. My friend and I were the last to fall off. Being a child of limited athletic prowess, I saw skateboarding as a new potential competitive advantage. My father may have recognized this too; whatever his motivation, my dad graciously bought me a red steel-wheeled skateboard at the local department store. I’ll never forget the piles and piles of the cloned board on sale there—a clear example of American capitalism at its best. Once in hand, I wasn’t about to test my new board on just any sidewalk; so I asked (whined, bugged, and nagged) my brother to drive me to the infamous Coonsmiller hill—a formidable downhill run in front of the local high school of the same name. My brother had earlier ridden successfully down this same incline on his top-flight rubber-wheeled board carrying a girl on his shoulders; he even got his picture in the newspaper (my brother did all the cool stuff—although our mother didn’t think so). Naturally I viewed Coonsmiller hill as the only acceptable venue for my new skateboard’s maiden voyage. Standing on the top of the precipice kind of took one’s breath away. It wasn’t so much the initial plunge that unnerved me—although it was terrifying--but the right-hand turn at the end that I needed to negotiate into a large driveway where delivery trucks entered to bring supplies to the school. My brother did it with a girl on his shoulders, so a scrawny kid on a brand new piece of equipment should be able to do it—no problem. I would never know because about half way down I hit an eruption in the sidewalk. I vaguely recall seeing, out of the corner of my eye, splinters of red painted wood, ball bearings and screws flying out from beneath my board as I leapt for the safety of the lawn. “Dad’s going to kill you,” my brother intoned as he inspected the damages. But as you can see, my dad didn’t kill me; in fact, he bought me my own top-flight rubber-wheeled skateboard for Christmas that year. I would use that board in many adventures until I grew out of the pastime. It was a fine piece of engineering. However, unlike today’s boards, my old rubber-wheeler couldn’t tolerate even tiny grains of sand on the sidewalk. Even the slightest amount of sand would stop the skateboard dead—the skateboard, that is, the rider kept right on going. But despite its short-comings, my skateboard was fast and relatively agile. All my years of honing my skateboarding skills would eventually come to fruition when I successfully surfed the waves off of Waikiki beach during a college vacation in Hawaii. But that’s another story.
My experiences with skateboarding provide a great metaphor for the price of excellence. It is all too easy for us to skimp on cost for critical tools in our lives, or take short-cuts in our education, or, most importantly, treat our relationship with God as only a Sunday morning fix. We will discover that the price of replacements and repairs of cheap tools far exceeds the initial cost of high-quality products. Trying to learn something by taking short-cuts, avoiding tiresome exercises, or attending schools having poor reputations will leave us uncompetitive and frustrated in our work world and struggling to keep pace with our peers. Treating God as someone we encounter only on Sunday mornings will leave us spiritually dead. Jesus put it this way:

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!”


Andrea @ Unfailingly Loved said...

Great story, Bruce, and great analogy. Thanks for sharing your gift of writing with all of us! Write on, brother -- write on!