When the ‘me’ is obliterated

(Part 55 of 74 in My Journey)

When the ‘me’ is obliterated by fear or the demands of immediate survival, action is no longer constrained by social forces, and the individual is left with a sense of self-determination. […] Behavior in edgework appears to the individual as an innate response arising from sources deep within the individual, untouched by socializing influences”

~ Stephen Lyng, from Edgework, 2004

A couple years ago I tried to write something explaining what exactly it is about practicing parkour that I like so much. It turns out others are way WAY ahead of me. Julie Angel (you have read Cinè Parkour, right?) talks a bit about “edgework”; The idea of negotiating the “edges” between things like consciousness/unconsciousness, sanity/insanity, and life/death. Others (H.S. Thompson and Lyng) have talked about “edgework” in depth.

And I agree. My experience is that being in the parkour practice — even just the visceral edges where I’m pushing my physical limits while exposing myself to only manageable levels of risk — just totally strips away all the context of my work-a-day life. Everything — all the way down to my thoughts — everything falls away.

My martial arts teacher has a great phrase related to edgework: No this. No that. No delay.


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