Committed Enough to Fall

My 17-year-old nephew Greg skateboards everyday, rain or shine. He builds his own ramps and jumps with my father, a skilled carpenter. Greg does AMAZING and daring stunts off-camera, but unlike his uncle (who adores an audience), he can never quite get the stunt right when he is being filmed. I think he did a fine job.

Here we have Greg’s Kickflip

Here’s his Ollie

In this one he attempts a Varial Flip. He does not succeed, but his attitude is great, so I asked if we could include it. (The voice in the back ground is my funky father yucking it up)

From watching Greg I discovered that there is no way that you can learn these stunts unless you are committed enough to fall flat on your face (and your butt and your side and sometimes even your head).

How true for so many of us– comic artists, cartoon artists,
performance artists, and ministers who preach in drag,

men who attempt to build healthy gay relationships, trans women and men,
queer and a tad bit odd podcasters,

and blogging/vlogging mothers, passionate panda-loving bisexuals,

gentle gay techno-geeks, singing and acting survivors and thrivers,

thoughtful straight allies, ex-gay survivors, Quaker pyschologists,

Gay Christians, and Emerging gay Christians, and gay fathers and more gay Christians,

and artistic wise souls who know that there is wholeness and healing in spite of the mess they had to trudge through.

We leap, hoping the net will appear, but sometimes we hit hard ground. We pick ourselves up, sometimes alone, but often with friends nearby and we press on, we press on.

This post has 9 Comments

  1. Steve Boese on June 12, 2006 at 12:34 am

    Peterson, perchance did a word get dropped when you said “My 17-year-old Greg”?

    Just curious…

  2. Peterson Toscano on June 12, 2006 at 12:41 am

    Thanks Steve! Greg is my nephew, but we are an Italian family, so everyone’s kids belong to each other. Little distinction between nephew and son and cousin and sister.

  3. Steve Boese on June 12, 2006 at 1:33 am


  4. Joe G. on June 12, 2006 at 3:43 am

    You’re right about the lack of distinctions with Italian families. Did you know that in Italy it is practice to include grandparents and aunts/uncles and family friends (not just the parents) in birth announcements? I like that.

    Nice videos of your child and thanks for the nod in your list of creative sorts.

  5. E on June 12, 2006 at 4:17 am

    Yeah, good old pain as a necessary component of growth. Sometimes I just hope I don’t die in the process (hmm, I guess skateboarding is a pretty good analogy)…

  6. Willie Hewes on June 12, 2006 at 6:34 am

    Love the first picture. Looks like a kung-fu move. Crane-style skateboard-fu. Sweet!

  7. Bob Painter on June 12, 2006 at 2:43 pm

    Peterson, thanks for the link.

    I’m sure people who are “real” activist find my blog confusing since I talk about gardening, travels AND being an ex-ex-gay…HA!

    By the way, I got the following excerpt in an email from Ann this morning. It fits so well with your train of thought that I’ve decided to share it.

    “Yesterday as I was driving over to Heather’s house, I heard a fellow on the radio say, ‘You don’t cut your wisdom teeth until you bite off more than you can chew.’ On another station moments later, I was listening to a song that I have heard many times before. Suddenly there’s a line I’d never caught in the past. It implied that biting off more than you can chew is a good and necessary thing. It’s how we learn.

    “I’d always associated biting off more than I could chew with failure. You hit the wall. You stumble and fall. You miss the deadline, miss the mark. You don’t get the numbers. You run out of steam. Maybe…just maybe you bite off more than you could chew. Biting off more than I could chew was a baaaaad thing. So one must watch carefully how big a bite one takes. However, within a matter of minutes, I hearing something like…you got to bite off more than you can chew if you going to live, learn and grow in wisdom. Hmmm…a very different perspective from that in which I was raised.

    “You know anytime I experience something like that…call it woogie-boogie Christianity if you will, I’m going, ‘Uh, God…something?’ So I started pondering this new view of biting off more than I can chew. Then my mother comes to mind. Yes, she of the dread and woe. God love her, she could see the potential doom, tragedy, ER visit, short-falls, or obit in nearly anything.

    “My mother was also quite superstitious. Nearly all her superstitions were associated with death. If you saw a falling star, forget making a wish. A falling star meant someone had just died. If you saw a dog rolling on its back, again someone had died. Whether falling star or rolling dog, surely she was right that someone somewhere had just croaked at that very moment. It was best not ask for details if Mama said she had a dream about you last night…because you most certainly had died.

    “Now going back to my ‘God speaking on the radio’ experience. I’m thinking biting off more than I can chew is what dreamers like me do naturally. Yes, sometimes it is tilting at windmills while riding a donkey. It’s starting seminary at 48 years old. It’s setting off to be a parish pastor, of all things, when some folks are talking retirement. It’s falling in love as you spin these other plates as well. It’s coming out…again…for the third time…I’m thinking sometimes with love and other such God things, you can’t plan the size of your bite. Not if you’re going to take a bite. It is what it is. The only question is to bite or not, which means whether you decide to live or not, to learn or not, to grow wise or not.

    “My Mama also believed once someone had cut their wisdom teeth, that person had lived half her life. I’m 52 years old. To date, I haven’t cut the single wisdom tooth I possess. My dentist checks it every so often when he x-rays me. My one wise tooth hibernates silently on its side as it has for years. While my solitary wisdom tooth may be a sign that folks won’t be knocking down my door in search of the meaning of life in my golden years, perhaps its passivity means I may one day have my face on a Smuckers label as the next Willard announces my 200th birthday, saying, ‘Ann Phillips. 200 today. Isn’t she lovely? The secret to a long life…oatmeal every morning, never stand under a falling star, avoid itchy dogs, and always bite off more than you can chew.’

    Thanks, Ann…and Peterson!

  8. Peterson Toscano on June 12, 2006 at 3:59 pm

    I LOVE me some Ann! Thanks Bob for sharing this with us and thanks Ann for being so amazing.

  9. Jonathan on June 12, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    Thanks Peterson! It is interesting to me this phenom that seems to be taking over of getting something for nothing. Like sitting on our butts will have great rewards. I wrote a while back about Paris’ and his skateboarding attempts and the fat lip that resulted. You know, he’s still skating and he’s getting better and better. He continues to get bloodied and scraped. But the smile on his face when he lands a trick…priceless! He still gets a little upset when he sees kids like your nephew, older kids, who can do more. I just remind him that eventually he’ll be their age, and if he keeps working at it, he’ll be as good as, if not better, than them.


Leave a Comment