This is Linda Perry's response to What are you skating towards in 2012?
When I first started to mull this idea over, I was thinking fairly literally about the experience of skating and considering what I am currently skating towards. I realized that a more accurate image is that I am speed skating to, from, over and around activities and events. It occurred to me that lately, while a fair bit of functional work has been occurring, not much of it is particularly inspiring.
So I decided to suspend the current realities and ponder the experience of skating, asking myself when I last remembered it to be a passionate pursuit. This immediately brought back memories of skating as a child. Wonderful days where neighborhood moms would bundle up their kids and we would head down the hill from our homes on the south slope of Burnaby to an outdoor, impromptu ice rink on ‘the flats’ of South Burnaby. Those days provided hours of skating joy on the rough ice. There were hockey games, races, figure skating (of sorts) and many skating around the edges, all for the pure joy of the skate and being together. When tired or cold we would break for hot chocolate and snacks that parents brought and shared.
Those days involved kids of all ages and stages; it was noisy and chaotic. But it worked. There was room for everyone. The ice was not refined. It was bumpy outdoor ice in a farmer’s field. Everyone fell down. And somehow, always got up. There was lots of laughter. And sometimes tears. But someone was always there to offer comfort and support. There was no minimum or maximum age requirement. No entry fee. No skill level review. In fact, you didn’t even need skates! There were kids in running shoes or others that weren’t able to skate being pulled on sleds, all sliding along on the ice. EVERYONE was welcome.
This inspires me. This sense of community isn’t a theory. I’ve lived it. I would rather recreate that experience with the people whose worlds in some way touch mine. The speed skating has certainly gotten me ‘doing’ lots of things. But I would like to experience more of life with the people I spend time with. In fact, I think more experiencing instead of ‘doing’ is going to be critical for all of us to move forward. There are challenges ahead. We hear about them on the news, read about it in the paper and talk about them all the time.
It’s obvious the ice is going be bumpy, and it certainly isn’t going to have a symmetrical shape. But all comers willing to step on the ice and take a spin should be welcomed. With support, laughter and enough hot chocolate for everyone, I know we can create solid community experience. I hope others will join me, and remember: we don’t even need skates to join in!
Linda Perry is Executive Director of the award winning Vela Micro Board Association. She recently received the B.C. Big Picture Award for 2011 an award from her peers for nearly forty years of inspiration and advocacy for and with people with disabilities and their families.
Note: I release individual essays from the collection, What are you skating towards in 2012? on a regular basis. Upcoming contributions are by Jacques Dufresne, Lindsay Cant, Richard Bridge, Stefan Lorimer and many others. You can access the accumulated essays here.