YOU'RE NEVER TOO OLD TO TRY SOMETHING NEW. JUST DON'T OVERTHINK IT

 


5 MIN READ

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 Trying a new thing can be time consuming – and unsettling. But you should do it anyway. 

Lena Salmi was nearly 60 when she took up longboarding. She also skateboards. If she can do that, surely we can at least try a new restaurant? 

Her wise words and relentless positivity even convinced me to order a different box of wine this month. I just went for it.

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When I'm on my board I just am. I feel free from any thoughts. I'm at the core of my doing – doing it just for myself. 

I began longboarding at the age of 57. Initially I started because I thought my beautiful bike would be stolen outside the Olympic swimming stadium in Helsinki, Finland, where I swim every single day during summer. I just got the idea that a longboard would be more suitable in a locker, and this is how it all began. 

I had no idea how to longboard or skateboard, so I put one message on a forum asking silly questions like "what kind of longboard should I buy?" and "is there anyone who will teach me?" On the forum they didn't dismiss me at all, I felt myself and very welcome. 

After one summer of cruising, I began to realise that perhaps I should learn a little bit more. Friends taught me to slalom – weaving in and out of obstacles, or around whatever is facing you. But this was the point where being patient with myself came into the picture. For some three years I had been merely cruising, but little by little I started to get the confidence to challenge myself. This is when skateboarding came into my life – I was 61.

"WE DON'T QUESTION WHETHER
SOMETHING IS POSSIBLE
OR NOT FOR YOUR AGE.
WE JUST DO THINGS."

Photo via: Roisín Dennis, @badgalro

I immediately started skateboarding into work. [It] is seen as remarkable in the eyes of others, but can been seen as unprofessional, too. I have at times managed to relax the atmosphere because I've walked into meetings with my skateboard. Nowadays my work is my PhD at the University of Helsinki where there are no issues concerning my skateboarding. 

After I got acquainted with my skateboard, I dared to pick up speed and do more technical things. Last autumn I started to do tricks after seeing an awesome video made by a Finnish freestyle skater, Mikko Koski, who is 47. 

The nicest skaters are little boys. When they see me, they come to me and say, "hey you, look at what I can do!" After looking at what they can do, they teach me tricks and after trying them we begin to talk about life. It's not about age, it's about having fun when skating. 

I live in an environment where we don't question whether something is possible or not for somebody your age. We just do things. For example, in my circus class I'm the oldest amongst my peers. We all do things like floor acrobatics, arm balances and trampolining. We are all equal, just trying. No-one laughs at you and they're supportive. 

I continue to do what I like regardless of age, race, or gender. Never mind what others think. If somebody laughs at you or if some of your friends begin to think you're weird, so what! Live your own life. 

"THE WILL TO DO OUTWEIGHS THE SKILL"

The response I've received in the media has been nice. But ... how to say it: if the main point of all this is publicity around how I've gotten to this age and I skateboard, what is that? To be a 64-year-old-skateboarding-beginner-woman? In my opinion the focus should be on the doing, and how passionate people are doing their thing. It's all about attitude. If I have any message to give, it is this: do it. The will to do outweighs the skill. Go beyond your elusive borders. Enjoy your life. Love yourself and you'll also love others! 

Advice I'd give my 30-year-old self: Dare to say no. Follow your path. Smile. 

You don't have to please the whole world; you only have time to be nice to the nearest ones. When you feel comfortable in your own company you have better opportunities to pass on your good vibes. 

Of course, you don't know where your path is going. But, if you have to choose, choose the way your heart will go and not the path you think others would choose in your position. 

Smile is half of the world. This I don't have to explain. Just experience it. 

What tomorrow brings I don't know yet. The skateboarding scene goes hand in hand with the graffiti art scene – I found graffiti when skating along the streets. The streets and art are my surroundings, there is no way back now! 

Follow Lena.

Image sources: Lena Salmi, Hypebae: Ben Awin.

Read this interview in Issue #4

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