Winter can be hard, especially in cold dark climates. I love cloud and rain, but there is something about winter that makes the lows lower and even the highs lower. But during a low it is sometimes hard to remember what it is that makes you feel better. Fortunately, on the heels of a particularly dark spell, plans that I’d made weeks ago came to my rescue.
I’d promised a 12 year old that he could spend a week of his winter break at my house since his mom would be at work. Sunday night he called me. We’d planned that we would build something together. He’d decided he wanted to build a longboard when we first talked about it. In the weeks leading up to this week I did a bit of research. Hmm… well, it didn’t look like it was going to be as easy as I thought. So when he called I asked him if he’d come up with an alternative. Nope. I hastily gathered together all the links I’d found on google for how to make a hand made longboard and sent them to him. Lesson 1 – make a plan.
Monday morning I went to pick him up. Before getting into the car he handed me a tiny piece of paper with a long list of supplies we would need in miniature handwriting. What is a riser? He didn’t know. What are trucks? He did know what those were. Next stop Homebase. Test 1 – should I trust his list of materials? Why not? Someone in the wood department was bound to recognize the things on the list. Worst case? More research using my iphone. We filled my car with birch plywood, paint, varnish, brushes, sand paper and more. I already had the power tools.
Lesson 2 – call in expert advice when needed. I made friends with the guy who runs the longboard shop in Camden. He was great! I called him at least three times. I don’t think he really believed we could do this. But he managed to explain every single step, down to the precise measurements for where to put the trucks and wheels and risers (finally found out what they were). My young friend and I spent the first afternoons of the week making a pattern for the shape, cutting the wood (finding we have enough left to make 3 more boards!) and sanding. Lots of sanding. Lesson 2 – have patience.
And then the rest of the parts arrived just as the board was finished with being beautifully painted. Drilling holes was more fun than sawing for my young friend, probably because at least this tool fit in his little hand. We talked a lot about how the principles of building something like a longboard can apply to life in general – learning from failure, being nervous about the outcome, accepting things will turn out different from we planned (in this case, so much better than we hoped), not listening to doubters and negativity. And I was reminded than when I’m really low and need building up, I need to just do something. Almost anything will work, even a longboard! Lesson 3 – build something.
My son looked a lot like my young friend here when he was that age. I don’t think he would believe his eyes if he saw me building a longboard. I’m sure he was smiling down from wherever he is now, happy that I was so happy this week… even if he might have been a little jealous.
Recently I’ve had longer moments of feeling good. I’m building things in other parts of my life now too. Four years into this journey, my new life without my son, I can see signs that I am building myself up again. If I make a plan, have patience and just keep building… well, I will probably find myself becoming more of myself just like the longboard came into itself.