This is Rodney Mullen.
In skateboarding circles, he's widely considered the most influential skateboarder in the history of skateboarding.
When I watch him on his board, doing his thing... I don't have to understand what skateboarding is. I don't have to know the names for all the tricks he does (that he largely invented himself). I don't have to be able to grasp the intimate mastery of timing and precision that it takes to perform these acts.
All I see is his passion. His complete and utter love for what it is that he does. And it sweeps me away, every time. I get lost in watching him love what he does.
Mr. Mullen's in his 40's now, and all that jumping and flipping and falling's taken its toll on the man... yet he refuses to give up on that which he loves.
From his Wikipedia page:
"He goes on to describe that scar tissue had built up in his joint as a result of habitually hyper-extending his leg while skating. Thirteen out of fourteen nights every two weeks for two years, Mullen would brace his leg in the tire-well of his car and apply pressure to his femur, tearing the scar tissue in the joint; eventually the scar tissue stopped growing back."
When his knee and hip got so bad that he couldn't skate properly with it any more, he took a couple of years and taught himself how to skate leading with his other foot.
Just take a moment and think about that for a second. Let it simmer.
Whenever I'm down or lost or wondering why I keep struggling... I like to watch Rodney skate. To remind myself of why I do this.
Because that's the ultimate question, isn't it? If I spent the rest of my life and never made my mark, never 'broke in'... would I keep on writing?
Do I love it that much?
I struggle with that question from time to time -- and sometimes the answer is no. But I always end up back there, typing away... some small fragment of an idea; some cool line or character detail or scene. I know I've got thousands of notepad documents on my computer, digital post-its all -- just thoughts and concepts and 'what-if's.
I can turn myself away from it, I can scare myself away from it... but I always come back, always find myself losing minutes or hours as I type away in the dead of night.
Even if it all comes up snake eyes, it's the love that gets me through.
I hope you all have your 'Rodney'... your someone who you can look to, who reminds you when you forget. Who inspires you to be better.
There's a fantastic interview with Rodney here -- I hope that, maybe, he'll inspire you as much as he inspires me.
P.S: I happened upon a video of a young Rodney practicing a trick that he invented -- a trick called the Darkslide, a trick that would change skateboarding forever. (Yes, it really was that influential).
Watch this video and see, no matter how many times he fails, the sheer determination on his face. Amazing.