Just One Question

On any given Saturday, my brother and I would ride the bus downtown, stand on a random corner, and try desperately to relieve our boredom. It really wasn’t too hard, though¿we’re simple folk. We’d fake fight, let loose with a self-induced seizure, or say shit to people as they passed just to get a reaction¿and they’d react every time.

Our favorite experiment involved asking every fifth person what time it was. This singular style of interrogation produced as many giggle fits from us as it did original answers from the poor souls we were incessantly jabbing and hooking. See, since time is linear and always changing, and each person is different, we were guaranteed a unique response every time we posed the question: “1:45,” “One-forty-seven,” “Quarter to two,” “One something,” “It’s almost two,” “I have no idea,” “Lunchtime,” “Shut the hell up.”

Knowing the results of this procedure, it seems logical that you could use the Saturday-afternoon model to extract original answers from any group of people, regardless of the question. Since TransWorld SKATEboarding is a big fan of logic (and almost everything else if it serves us), not to mention a fan of skateboarding, we thought it’d be nice to provide you with a bit of homegrown boredom relief in the form of one question. That’s it: Just One Question.

This month’s question: Do you believe in god?

Brad Staba: I believe in something, you know? I don’t know enough about god, you know. I know that I want to believe. Obviously, there’s all this stuff you hear. I think I believe in god because I feel like sometime I’m gonna see the people I can’t see right now. I feel like somebody’s taking care of them, somehow.

I feel some spirit. Maybe if you just feel good about yourself and what you’re doing … maybe that’s what exists.

Heath Kirchart: No. I don’t believe in anything.

Eric Koston: Maybe. I don’t know. Yeah, I think so. In some ways, yeah. Sometimes not, though. I don’t know if I have an example. If god was there, why are people … I’m trying to think of an example here … evil people, kids with birth defects, you know what I mean?

I don’t know if there’s that much stuff pointing in the direction of there being a god. Maybe it’s been put in your head throughout life so much that you eventually believe it.

Ed Templeton: Generally, no. I don’t know if I don’t believe that people have souls. But as far as creation is concerned, it’s almost not worth spending your time thinking about it. Your life’s so short, why do you need to know what really happened?

I think if you live your life in a good way … there’re religions across the world that mainly have the same guidelines¿don’t steal, don’t be mean to people, don’t murder people, and stuff like that¿I feel like I live by those guidelines, within reason. I mean, I cuss, but I have a hard time believing that someone who uses some word that humans on this planet created and some deem bad would not get you into eternal life.

I try to do things that are right. I don’t know what to say about people whose moral standards are flawed and they think killing people is okay. I don’t know how that works. I know for me I feel like if there was a god, and at the end I went there, he would let me into heaven.

I also refuse to believe that you have to swear to only one certain god to get in. When I was a kid, I asked my grandmother, “What happens if a kid was born in India and his family taught him that Buddha was the right way to go the whole time, and he lived a really good life?”

My grandmother said, “Well, basically, he goes to hell, because he didn’t pick the right god.” That kind of made me start thinking about it all the time. I choose to believe that that’s not right.

I believe that if someone lives a good life, and there is a heaven, they will go there. In general, all that doesn’t make much sense. I know it’s really bleak to believe that once you’re dead, you’re dead and that’it. But I kind of believe that at this point. I mean, I know there’s something special out there, but I don’t know what it is. I have a feeling it’s not god or something like that.

Regardless of any books or people, the world will be better if you try to live right. I guess that’s pretty much what I try to do.

Tim O’Connor: I believe in my brain: god’s in there, and it’s really small.

My mom’s a practicing Catholic, and I’ve decided that the human brain cannot fathom such things. We’re just here, man. We don’t know what’s going on. Nobody knows what’s going on. All we know is that we don’t know.

Jamie Thomas: Of course I believe in god. If you don’t believe in god, then you think you’re god.

For a long time I thought I was god, meaning that everything in my world revolved around me and what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. There’s a lot to learn and know about self-sacrifice, and that’s something that not many people wish to know about because it’s not very convenient.

My wife is a Christian and she was constantly trying to reason with me on how blessed I was and how I think I got that blessed. I took full credit for it all¿forever. That was a constant battle for me because I wanted to take credit for it, because I felt I worked hard enough to earn the credit. I told her, “I worked so hard to get where I’m at, and that’s why I’m where I’m at.”

She would ask me, “Well, where did you get the ambition and the desire and the skill to get where you’re at?” I would say, “My parents.”

And she’d say, “It’s gotta be longer than that.” And it keeps going and going and going. It goes to creator, and that pretty much all dawned on me at one time. It took a pretty gnarly event in my life to wake me up to that. I realized it wasn’t all about me. It took me a long time to figure out. I didn’t talk to anybody about it because I didn’t even know where or what I stood for, what I believed in, or what I was doing. Over time, the relationship began to grow, and I started figuring out how things really work.

Mike Vallely: Yes. That’s an easy one.

I think I’ve always believed, even when I was claiming not to believe¿which I did for a while. For a while, I was claiming to be an atheist. But since I was a small child, I’ve always known and believed that I’m not just this body. I truly do have a soul, and that soul goes on living after this body dies. Because of that, if you know that to be true about yourself, then that sends you on some sort of spiritual search.

I feel that youth now¿and going back to my generation and generations before me¿somewhere along the line we lost faith in certain things. We lost faith in family, education, and religion. Those institutions failed most of us. Because they failed us, we gave up on them, or tried to call shit on them, or tried to say that they weren’t important. But for me, individually, instead of going that route and walking away from all these things, I’ve decided to embrace them. I feel that they became institutions for a reason. There was something real and important about these things before they became so weighed down by the institution itself and so buried by people’s crap and nonsense. But if you strip them down to what they truly are, they are very important things.

I’ve gone about making them priorities in my life and doing these things the way I feel they should be done¿somewhat, anyway. I think it’s cowardly to just turn away from these things and say that they don’t matter. It’s important to stand up and find out what they’re all about and apply them to your life the best you can. That’s what I’ve done. I don’t really belong to a church, and I don’t really follow an organized religion, but I’m not going to call any of them out and I’m not going to say that they’re full of it. But I’m also not going to stand back and say, “Everything’s good.” I do have my personal feelings. I don’t know how important it is to say exactly what they are, because that just creates arguments. But at the same time, I think it’s really important¿not necessarily religion, but the idea of god and spirituality.

I’ve always had an ear to the ground and my eyes wide open trying to figure what this is really all about. I think that’s what the question leads you into: What am I doing here? Why am I here? Why am I alive? I can’t really answer any of that, but I do have faith that there is something more and something better after this. Because of that, I believe there is a higher power, and I believe the way I live my life here matters. The choices I make matter. So yeah, I’m a believer.

Jeremy Klein: Oh, this question again? Come on.

No. I do not believe in fairy tales. If you believe in god then you gotta believe in fortune tellers and all kinds of other crazy shit. It’s like believing in ghosts. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in god, I don’t believe in any of it.

I don’t believe in what’s not known¿what’s not a true fact.

You know what? I don’t have time to believe in god. How about that? I don’t have time to even think of it.

Rick McCrank: No, I don’t. I just can’t see it. It’s not real to me. It just feels like something so that people won’t be so scared of dying¿something to look forward to. I’m just meat and bones, and then it’s done.

Jason Dill: Everybody gets these weird contradictions in their head about all these questions, like, “If there was a god, why do bad things happen to good people?”

Day to day I believe in a million different things, and I drop them like a hat the next day. That’s me. You gotta think that the lives that skateboarders lead¿you know, skateboarders are sometimes family-oriented and sometimes not. Most skaters I know who are successful come from a broken home¿they have a pretty rough background as far as things they had to deal with when they were young. I think that heavily influences your spirituality.

I believe in the excess of success and the evils that come with it. I think in life, through the human string of DNA, you get served up a good faith or you’re well endowed or you’ve got this skill to sing or you’re a skateboarder. Success following that gives you so many paths, and that’s where a lot of beliefs are set. It’s so hard to narrow yourself down and be like, “All right, what do I really believe? What do I really feel inside my shell of a body? That some being really gave so much of a shit about my life that he created me and sent his poor son down to save god-awful fucked-up human beings and die for them?” To me, that’s pretty out there. I give human beings very little credit, and I don’t invest much in human society.

You know what I was saying about success? I think the same thing about poverty. You can’t get out of poverty. I think it’s the same window. Say you’re successful, you’ve got dough, you’re coked up, you’re f¿kin’ chicks, everybody’s kissin’ your ass¿you’ll end up the same way as that poor father who’s sitting on the curb who has kids somewhere. He’s pullin’ shit, he can’t even eat. I think it’s almost the same as thinking, “What do I believe?” You’re left with either excess or no success. I think it’s the same way of thinking.

So I think to actually believe in a god¿it couldn’t be me in the Year 2000. It’s too much of a farce for me. Let’s just say I wouldn’t put my money on humans to save the war between good and evil. I’d have to say if any part of me came from a god, I think I’d be blowing a lot of hot air up my own ass.

Tony Hawk: Not in the traditional sense of a supreme being. I believe in more of a unified force in the world. But not one being calling the shots or someone you have to serve in order to be accepted into a better world. That whole idea is very much like dictatorship.

I think if you follow your heart as far as what’s good and what’s bad, then you’re rewarded in many other ways¿with friends and with goothey are, because that just creates arguments. But at the same time, I think it’s really important¿not necessarily religion, but the idea of god and spirituality.

I’ve always had an ear to the ground and my eyes wide open trying to figure what this is really all about. I think that’s what the question leads you into: What am I doing here? Why am I here? Why am I alive? I can’t really answer any of that, but I do have faith that there is something more and something better after this. Because of that, I believe there is a higher power, and I believe the way I live my life here matters. The choices I make matter. So yeah, I’m a believer.

Jeremy Klein: Oh, this question again? Come on.

No. I do not believe in fairy tales. If you believe in god then you gotta believe in fortune tellers and all kinds of other crazy shit. It’s like believing in ghosts. I don’t believe in ghosts, I don’t believe in god, I don’t believe in any of it.

I don’t believe in what’s not known¿what’s not a true fact.

You know what? I don’t have time to believe in god. How about that? I don’t have time to even think of it.

Rick McCrank: No, I don’t. I just can’t see it. It’s not real to me. It just feels like something so that people won’t be so scared of dying¿something to look forward to. I’m just meat and bones, and then it’s done.

Jason Dill: Everybody gets these weird contradictions in their head about all these questions, like, “If there was a god, why do bad things happen to good people?”

Day to day I believe in a million different things, and I drop them like a hat the next day. That’s me. You gotta think that the lives that skateboarders lead¿you know, skateboarders are sometimes family-oriented and sometimes not. Most skaters I know who are successful come from a broken home¿they have a pretty rough background as far as things they had to deal with when they were young. I think that heavily influences your spirituality.

I believe in the excess of success and the evils that come with it. I think in life, through the human string of DNA, you get served up a good faith or you’re well endowed or you’ve got this skill to sing or you’re a skateboarder. Success following that gives you so many paths, and that’s where a lot of beliefs are set. It’s so hard to narrow yourself down and be like, “All right, what do I really believe? What do I really feel inside my shell of a body? That some being really gave so much of a shit about my life that he created me and sent his poor son down to save god-awful fucked-up human beings and die for them?” To me, that’s pretty out there. I give human beings very little credit, and I don’t invest much in human society.

You know what I was saying about success? I think the same thing about poverty. You can’t get out of poverty. I think it’s the same window. Say you’re successful, you’ve got dough, you’re coked up, you’re f¿kin’ chicks, everybody’s kissin’ your ass¿you’ll end up the same way as that poor father who’s sitting on the curb who has kids somewhere. He’s pullin’ shit, he can’t even eat. I think it’s almost the same as thinking, “What do I believe?” You’re left with either excess or no success. I think it’s the same way of thinking.

So I think to actually believe in a god¿it couldn’t be me in the Year 2000. It’s too much of a farce for me. Let’s just say I wouldn’t put my money on humans to save the war between good and evil. I’d have to say if any part of me came from a god, I think I’d be blowing a lot of hot air up my own ass.

Tony Hawk: Not in the traditional sense of a supreme being. I believe in more of a unified force in the world. But not one being calling the shots or someone you have to serve in order to be accepted into a better world. That whole idea is very much like dictatorship.

I think if you follow your heart as far as what’s good and what’s bad, then you’re rewarded in many other ways¿with friends and with good deeds toward you in your life here. Because if you’re giving and you’re compassionate, that all comes back to you, and there’s a force that possibly drives that, but not some person deciding what’s in and what’s out.

Ricky Oyola: I believe there is something. I don’t know if it’s a someone, a female, or a male. I couldn’t tell you what it is. But there’s definitely something that is greater than ourselves. I do feel that we were created somehow, but do I believe in god? I don’t think I believe in god because god is just a word that was given to it. Like I could call skateboard my god, you know?

It’s a tough question. I believe in something that’s out there that is much greater than us. We’re nothing, really. I believe in something or someone or whatever, but I don’t know what to call it, or him, or her. But to believe in god, as the majority of people do, no, I don’t believe in that really. Probably the reason I don’t is because I’m so involved in skateboarding. My mind is so consumed with skateboarding all the time. If god is someone’s savior, then I would imagine that skateboarding is my savior, because it allows me to do so many things, and it keeps me away from other things. It’s what I research, it’s what I do, and it’s what I think about and dream about.

If it was a yes or no, I’d have to say, “no.” But again I’d have to explain that I believe in something.

Kenny Hughes: Yes. But I don’t go to church and preach to people and all that stuff. When I was little, my grandparents forced me to go to church, but don’t go now. I pray at night, but nothing over the top, you know?

I just think that if you live your life right¿don’t do wrong by other people¿then you’ll be fine.

Ethan Fowler: I don’t know. I still struggle with it. I grew up being raised as a Baptist Christian, went to a religious private school, and as much as I don’t openly admit to believing in god, the fear of god is instilled in me forever. It’s just an ongoing question. I can’t say no, and I can’t say yes.

I just read Inferno¿it’s an amazing book, and it had me thinking not so much about hell, but about this divine grace. It’s more human than it was portrayed to me in school¿Dante’s Inferno, that is. It brought up a lot of questions. I mean, in the book he descends to hell through an opening in the earth, right? Obviously, that’s impossible, but when you think about it that way, it just brings it closer to home¿instead of making it so mystical, it makes it feel like it could be possible.

I think if there was a little more intervention between whatever heavenly spirits there might be and myself, I’d probably have a better understanding of it.

Donny Barley: Yes.

Well, I do believe in god, but I’m not really sure … I mean, I believe the Bible gives us enough stories to make us realize that if we act a certain way, the world’s gonna be a better place¿such as being considerate and kind and all those other kinds of things. That’s what I sort of try to do as a person¿try to be as good as I can be, although at times that’s very hard.

It’s kind of hard to explain. I believe in god, but I don’t believe there’s one guy running the show up there, calling the shots and pulling strings to make people die and make people live. I think it all sort of happens. People get accidentally killed, people get diagnosed with some disease that they got because they ate the wrong thing, some people just flat-out die naturally of a heart attack, you know? I don’t think god’s controlling that. It all just the way nature is.

It’s weird, I went to church ’til I was fourteen¿every week. I honestly believe in god, but at the same time, I have some other theories. Maybe you don’t believe in god, but god is a good thing because it helps the world be a better place because sometimes people who have no guidance can be guided. I also think it’s crazy that every big war we’ve ever had, all the biggest wars, have been over religion. That seems like an oxymoron. If you’re trying to say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” but you’re going to go kill a bunch of people for believing in something different from w