The Runner’s Search for Animal Chin

I am searching for Animal Chin, have you seen him? One of my favorite childhood memories is skateboarding. My friends and I would “acquire” lumber from construction sites to make launch ramps. Once they were properly plastered with stickers and spray painted with killer graffiti, we would defy gravity with a method airs and frontside 360s. Skateboarding in the 80’s truly was an incredible time in human history. One particular memory from that time has stuck with me my entire life and fuels my passion for running to this day. This memory comes from a classic 1987 skateboarding movie about the Bones Brigade. I’m talking about the Search for Animal Chin. Have you see him?

The Search for Animal Chin is a movie about five skateboarder friends who call themselves the Bones Brigade. In the movie, the Bones Brigade go on an epic adventure skateboarding around the country, searching for a mysterious legend of skateboarding named Won Ton “Animal” Chin, skating everything in their path. Their search takes them to some of the most scenic and transcendent skateboarding spots in the country, and they meet some amazing people and make fond memories along the way. Their search eventually takes them to an out-of-this-world halfpipe ramp, unlike one they had ever seen, in the middle of the desert.

The guys seem to be getting closer to finding Animal Chin as the movie progresses, until they have a life-changing realization. Approaching the desert ramp, marveling at its size and design, they observe a Chinese character painted on its side, and at that moment they understand that Animal Chin does not exist in the physical realm. They thought they had been searching for a man, but they were searching for what he represents, his spirit. They also realized that it is not about “finding” anyone, or anything. It is about the search, the journey, the process. Being so focused on finding this mysterious skater legend, they almost missed the most important lesson in life, appreciating the present moment and what is happening around you in each moment you have breath. They almost missed the true essence of what fuels their passion for skateboarding.

The epic Chin ramp.

As runners, when we embark on long runs on remote mountain trails…searching for Animal Chin. We are searching for what makes life wondrous and incredible, the real experience of every single moment where we have life and can sense the natural wonder of the world around us. There is magic in every moment, even the most painful ones. Achieving a new PR, winning a race, conquering a new distance, while exciting at the time, are fleeting moments and those medals and buckles turn into clutter that eventually someone has to figure out what to do with. When you run, take in the world around you and realize that so much to enjoy in the process, not just at the finish line.

Never stop searching.

As a kid, my friends and I would go searching for Animal Chin, although we didn’t call it that. We had some epic adventures, right there in our little suburban Orlando neighborhood, and made some great memories. As an adult, I am still searching, every time I lace up my running shoes, I set out to enjoy the search. I still have goals, but I try to always enjoy the training and buildup periods. Achieving the end goal is great, but it is only one of many moments to appreciate. To me, the greatest tragedy would be to think, as I breathe my last breaths, that I never took the time to enjoy the journey, to have been so busy searching for something that I thought would make me happy. So the next time you begin something that you enjoy doing, pay attention to what makes it so meaningful, and never stop searching. Have you seen him?

Circa 1987, one of those well-built launch ramps.

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