We continue our discussion with Lew Ross, social activist and creator of Fickle Skateboards shifting gears to his early life as a sensitive young misfit searching for love in a world driven by power and influence.
Season 2 – EP 6 Part 2 (Watch Part 1 here)
Power and Love (and Skateboards)
It’s Lew’s personal story that, for me, makes what he does so meaningful and impactful. It’s one of those stories that seems to be a common thread in society, and that many will find familiar.
But it’s a story that has to be repeated over and over, because within it lies a universal need to be loved, heard, accepted, validated, and embraced. It’s a story that when ignored can have tragic consequences. Lew speaks at length about his experiences during our interview:
“Martial arts and skateboarding were a big part of how I began to find my way in the world. You know, 12-year-old kid, sensitive, socially maladjusted… I got bullied pretty savagely. So many people have that story and… I got into a really dark place…
I got really gnarly ’cause the world is extremely unwelcoming toward organisms like me. People who are sensitive and idealistic really get… they really get the business in the world…”
Self-harm and rage became a real way for Lew to take control. He looked for power in darkness and nihilism until he got ‘whiplashed’:
“I was extremely ugly. I valued decay and death very highly, like religiously, and became a very, very dark, evil person for a short time. And then I just got whiplashed around. I started to shatter. I started to fall apart. It was too much for me, all this negativity and all this decay in all of this very sincere punk rock nihilistic engagement. I started to fall apart.”
His waking up moment came during a talk by Leo Buscaglia that was broadcast on TV.
“I watched a talk by Leo Buscaglia with my mom and I just began to weep. I remember I was weeping uncontrollably and I left the room ’cause, you know, I “hated” my parents, I didn’t wanna talk about it and I didn’t wanna have any feelings and I… it was like one week I saw Leo Buscaglia speak on TV and it busted me.”
“I called my Hindu friend up that night and I said, there has to be a god. And I said I discovered it. God has to be love!”
Lew’s personal story of waking up to love has been his inspiration and motivation for how he shows up in the world.
“Being exposed to acceptance and love at a baseline level have… it’s caused me to sort of file a divorce with this world and its dumb fashion rules and its dumb conformity and its ‘Oh well, you have to wear this or wear that or look like this or look like that. You have to be cool, or you have to be thin, or you have to be beautiful, or you have to be gay or straight, or black or white…”
Lew is not afraid to be different and controversial. He believes that questioning authority is the only way to find the relevant truth. True to his beginnings in the punk rock movement of independent thinking and independent life choices, Lew is passionate about standing up against misogyny and racism and phobias of any kind – in skateboard parks and in the world.
“If a human community is going to be bigoted about what you’re riding in a skatepark, then that community is definitely gonna fall like dominoes when it’s time to be bigoted about other things.”