Monday, August 8 2022 - 8:39 AM
riding skateboard
Photo by Dreamstime

An Unknown Path

This can’t end well, I thought, as I rode down the hill on my longboard. What if just around this bend it drops off or sends me into the forest with no way of stopping? I should’ve worn a helmet.

After a long day of high school and learning about the major importance of how to graph the Pythagorean theorem, some friends and I decided to go spend the beautiful spring afternoon riding our longboards. We packed into my friend’s car and drove to Mt. Tabor, a place where many people enjoy spending time outdoors: walking, jogging, biking, picnics, soaking up the view of the water reservoir. And some, like my friends and me, were there to longboard down the path.

After we arrived at our destination, we began to ride. Early on, the path was clear and peaceful. I stopped for a second, and as I often do, sat on my board to ride while enjoying the sound of the cool breeze rustling through the trees. After a minute, I stood up and continued riding with my feet planted on the board.

Picking Up Speed

I picked up speed and felt the wind blowing through my hair. The cool breeze counteracted the warmth of the sun shining through the gaps of the forest. The feeling of the pavement underneath served as a reminder that I was, in fact, still on the ground. The ecstasy of effortlessly gliding quickly turned to anxiety as I realized I was unaware of the bends and curves that were to come. I had failed to walk through the trail beforehand in order to familiarize myself with the trail and where it would take me. It is a common precautionary measure before riding a trail to find out where it leads and if there are any potential dangers to steer clear from.

My speed continued to increase as did my fear of the unknown, and I began to weigh my options.  Would I continue down the path and face the potential dangers that could be coming? As a beginner longboarder, I had not yet mastered how to brake by sliding my foot on the ground, so slowing myself down was not an option. Although I must’ve only been going around 15 mph, my increasing speed concerned me.

Taking a Tumble

I peered over to my right, and a clear patch of grass on the side of the hill caught my eye. This was my chance. I leaned in that direction in an effort to guide my board to where the patch of grass laid. The board under my feet flew out in front of me as I threw myself towards the grass. I braced for impact and landed on my side, momentum carrying me a few feet from where I first made contact with the ground, as I rolled into a stop.

Then I picked myself up and walked over to my board that had rolled a bit further. I felt relieved to have jumped off into a relatively soft landing. I began to ride, now fully in control of my speed.

Just ahead of where I jumped, the unknown trail which once appeared treacherous had proved to be nothing to worry about. As I cruised the rest of the path, the sun shone on me; its light no longer held captive by the forest trees. As I approached the end of the trail and reunited with my friends, I realized my fear was not because of the path itself, but because of my lack of knowledge of where it was going.

College and the Path Ahead

The same way I felt anxious while boarding Mt. Tabor, I felt when it was time for me to graduate from high school. I had no idea what was in store for me. College frightened me. Perhaps I tried to convince myself it was the cost I was afraid of, or maybe I didn’t think I could keep up with the classes. My real fear was I had absolutely no idea what or who I wanted to be. That was more frightening than any research paper, project, or exam I could ever face.

At the last minute, I decided to give college a shot. Unaware of the career I wanted, I thought, perhaps this is not for me, but I went ahead and did it anyway. Now I am in my third year of fulfilling a bachelor’s degree. Still, not a day goes by where I don’t think about dropping out. But I am still going strong.

While I may not know what’s in store for my path ahead, my longboarding incident taught me that life will always have its ups, downs, bends and curves. But if you face your challenges head on instead of giving up like I did in that moment of fear, you will see and feel the sun and the warmth of its rays shining on better days.

If you liked this, you might also like Walking the Path | An Unknown Future 

Israel Gutierrez writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Israel Gutierrez

Israel Gutierrez

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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