(Part 7 of 36 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)
Here Thibault draws an analogy from how one reads a book. The obvious way is to read straight through from front to back. But he points out, just as there are alternatives with a book, there are alternatives with how we view and interact with our environment.
I’ve said many times – this isn’t my idea but I’ve forgotten where I picked it up – that one aspect of Parkour is realizing that the obstacle IS the path. Things in the environment which once were “obstacles” become “options.” Things which others would never consider interacting with draw my attention and suggest ways to interact. As my curiosity developed, I literally began to see my environment differently.
Aside: One of my favorite Parkour jokes is that I’ve converted my ADD from “Attention Deficit Disorded” to “Art Du Déplacement”. (That’s the French name for what we call Parkour.) But I’ve subsequently been diagnosed with late onset “Obstacle Attraction Disorder” (OAD).
Here, there is a railing. Why, really, may I not walk upon it? Many of the reasons for staying off are internal: I may fall; I have poor balance; I’m afraid. The rest of the reasons are based on other people’s internal fears projected out into the environment: People think, “I may fall, therefore you may fall.” And so we encounter people yelling, “Get down from there you’ll hurt yourself!”
Aside: Here’s my opinion on liability issues. Railings, as an example, are clearly not intended to be walked on. So I’m implicitly accepting the risk of my falling off the railing. Further, I’m also implicitly accepting the responsibility to repair the railing if I break it.
Through Parkour, I slowly discovered all of these internal reasons which I’d never noticed, let alone attempted to address, which were holding me back! Not simply holding me back in the context of some particular obstacle. (After all, I could simply walk around that wall!) But rather, all those internal reasons were holding me back in the context of my entire life. I realized that climbing stairs was no longer trivial. Touching my toes was no longer trivial. Climb a tree? …no more. Live a full life, sleep well, run? Nope, nope, nope. As a human being, I have a birthright to move (with a hat tip to Ido Portal), and to interact physically with my environment.
(Spoiler: I also have a birthright to interact physically with my fellow humans, but that’s another section in Thibault’s book.)
So Thibault’s section 2 seems trivial at first glance, but actually speaks to a very deep, and fundamentally important idea.