Communities

The negative point in the quote below is obvious, but it bears repeating since, somewhere, there’s some excited youngling rushing to build technology and online communities . . .

We thought that we could build new communities online that could replace the ones we’d built in real life (IRL), but we were wrong. As internet usage has gone up and face time has gone down, we’ve become more isolated, depressed, and in some cases, violent. We are as unhappy as we have been in a long time.

~ Packy McCormick from, https://www.packym.com/irl/finding-our-place

But McCormick’s point is that—as the saying goes—the kids are alright.

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MiST with Iron Gump

Iron Gump joins Craig Constantine to share how meditative strength training bridges the gap between physical exertion and mindful awareness.

This is what you were talking about earlier. The meditative aspect. What I call it is meditative strength training (MiST). The meditative aspect is developing the awareness as you move, and then maintaining that awareness as you move. So taking very simple exercises— […] So that people feel, ‘Okay, I’m not going into this super extreme odd space where I don’t know what to do.’

~ Iron Gump (13:17)

Craig and Iron Gump explore the integration of mindfulness with physical training, discussing how meditative practices can enhance strength exercises. Iron Gump shares his progression from traditional Chinese martial arts in his teenage years to weight training and eventually to a blend of both disciplines. He emphasizes the significance of combining body alignment and breath work with exercises like squats and lunges, transforming them into meditative practices. This approach, which he calls “meditative strength training,” helps individuals develop a deeper awareness of their movements and maintain mindfulness throughout their workouts.

They also discuss the benefits of barefoot training, with Iron Gump recounting his experiences running and hiking barefoot in various terrains. He explains how this practice improves sensitivity and proprioception, leading to better reaction times and overall body awareness.

Additionally, Iron Gump shares his teaching experiences with diverse groups, from elderly women in Maui to fighters in a South Philly gym. He highlights how slowing down movements and focusing on alignment can reveal hidden weaknesses and enhance overall strength and conditioning, drawing on principles from Tai Chi and other martial arts.

Takeaways

Exploring meditative strength training — emphasizes the combination of body alignment and breath work with exercises like squats and lunges to develop mindfulness.

Importance of mindfulness in physical training — highlights how being aware of movements and maintaining that awareness enhances workout effectiveness.

The role of traditional Chinese martial arts — discusses the influence of martial arts in developing physical and meditative aspects of training.

Benefits of barefoot training — describes how running and hiking barefoot improve sensitivity, proprioception, and reaction times.

Challenges and rewards of teaching diverse groups — shares experiences working with elderly women and fighters, adapting training methods to suit different populations.

Transforming everyday exercises — illustrates how simple exercises can become meditative by incorporating alignment and breath work.

Connection between slow movements and strength — explains how slowing down movements and focusing on alignment can reveal weaknesses and improve strength.

Integration of martial arts principles in fitness — talks about applying Tai Chi and other martial arts concepts to modern strength and conditioning routines.

Developing body awareness — emphasizes the importance of understanding body mechanics and alignment in enhancing physical training.

Adapting traditional practices for modern fitness — discusses how traditional exercises can be made relevant and beneficial for contemporary fitness enthusiasts.

Resources

https://www.irongump.com — Iron Gump’s web site with additional links and contact methods.

@1IronGump — Iron Gump Instagram showcases various exercises and training methods, providing insights into meditative strength training practices.

Master Keith Maza — Iron Gump’s current teacher, specializing in internal arts.

Royal Striking — Muay Thai gym in South Philly

(Written with help from Chat-GPT.)

Technical debt

Everything goes in cycles, right? Back in the 90s, we became excited about “4th generation” programming languages. In short, programming is very difficult and so people write programs, and they write tools to help them write programs. Eventually, those tools are really just new programming languages… and the rising tide (lifting all the boats) has gone up a generation.

Today, with a few commands and a couple of lines of code, we can prototype almost any idea. All the tools that we now have available make it easier than ever to start something new. But the upfront cost that these frameworks may save in initial delivery eventually comes due as upgrading and maintaining them becomes a part of our technical debt.

~ Ste Grainer from, https://alistapart.com/article/the-wax-and-the-wane-of-the-web/

Keep in mind that the rising tide does not move the foundation layers at the beginning/bottom. There’s ever-increasing distance between the hardware at the bottom, and the “surface” of the rising tide at the top. Yes, sure, we refer to the increasing complexity of keeping all the stuff (from foundation to surface) maintained and working as technical debt.

The part that bends my mind is this: There’s more and more room (from the foundations to the surface) for an increasing number of people to find things (places in the layers, particular technologies) that they love. Yes, the technical debt increases… Yes, non-human intelligence is coming… But there’s more—every day—space in those layers for so many people (and non-humans) to find their passion and craft and art!

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Hard work

Work ethic. The value in labor is not that it’s hard. The combination of our minds and our might, our values and our ideals, is what raises labor from simply effort expended, to purposes transcendent.

What people don’t realize is that if you’re buried in your email inbox instead of doing your most important work, you are just as distracted as if you went on Facebook or Instagram or whatever. Anything that is not what you planned to do is by definition a distraction.

~ Seliria from, https://superorganizers.substack.com/p/stop-trying-to-make-hard-work-easy

Distraction and business are available everywhere and at all times. Fortunately, there are always other choices too.

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Curiosity

If we look with curiosity at people who do not share our values, they become interesting rather than threatening. […] Cultivating a questioning mind, of which conversation is the chief instrument, enriches our relationship with the world. Having a conversation with someone I may disagree with is, I have come to find, a great, life embracing pleasure.

~ Nick Cave

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Just listening

It’s easy to get lost in the moment when another is speaking. So many things can spring to mind as our thoughts race to keep up with, and perhaps even to get ahead of, the speaker’s thinking. It seems so clearly truly that in order to have any chance to affect this other person, we have to get to the part where I get to start talking… But truly, step one is always to first be able to listen.

There is good reason to believe that high-quality listening can constructively influence a person’s attitudes about controversial issues. My previous work on listening suggests that when speakers experience high-quality listening, their attitudes often become less extreme and less prejudiced. Attitudes can also become more complex.

~ Guy Itzchakov from, https://psyche.co/ideas/why-listening-well-can-make-disagreements-less-damaging

Simply listening—good, active listening—can have a real effect on the speaker.

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If you can hold them

A while back I found this large essay about questions. I’ve been reading it repeatedly and found a number of interesting points (which will go on to become seeds for posts to Open + Curious.)

And questions are a tool you can use for that, as long as you’re able to hold them without immediately asking them (which shifts your focus onto answers). Leave the question in your mind as a thing to be figured out by your mind’s further interactions with the world.

~ Malcolm Ocean from, https://www.ribbonfarm.com/2017/08/10/questions-are-not-just-for-asking/

It struck me that the sense of wonder that I sometimes experience in a conversation may actually be exactly the same sense of wonder from childhood. Everything is possibility. Everywhere there is opportunity for learning. Everyone brings perspectives. All of which invites further interactions.

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Freerunning with George McGowan

George McGowan discusses his journey through Parkour and his philosophical approach to movement, sharing insights on achieving perfection through relentless practice and creativity.

I think that carried over into my style, and then as I progressed it just got more… I was more critical of myself. But it’s my style of training, and I want the line to be—in my eyes—perfect and if I’m happy with it, then that’s all that matters. And having the clip at the end is just a bonus to me.

~ George McGowan, (04:30)

Craig Constantine welcomes George McGowan, a Freerunning and Parkour enthusiast and filmmaker, to discuss his experiences and insights into the world of movement. Early in the conversation, they discuss a recent documentary featuring George, emphasizing the dedication and meticulous approach required to master Parkour moves. George elaborates on his collaboration with notable figures like Robbie Corbett and his participation in events like the USA Parkour Cup, highlighting how these experiences have fostered valuable relationships and opportunities in the Parkour community.

George shares his philosophy on training and Parkour lines, explaining that achieving perfection in his movements is paramount, a sentiment reflected in his rigorous practice routine as seen in the documentary. He talks about his preference for efficient and fluid movements over showy, disconnected tricks, underscoring his focus on the aesthetics and functionality of each sequence.

Additionally, George discusses the influence of his peers, particularly from his early days training in Belfast, on developing a perfectionist approach to Parkour. This mindset extends into how he visualizes and plans his movements, often laying in bed thinking about the next day’s potential lines and challenges.

Takeaways

Exploration of Parkour documentaries — the conversation opens with a discussion about a documentary that delves into the intricacies of Parkour, focusing on the commitment and precision required to excel in the sport.

Importance of collaboration and networking — highlights how relationships built through Parkour, such as with notable athletes and event participation, play a crucial role in expanding opportunities and experiences within the community.

Philosophy and approach to training — emphasizes a meticulous and perfection-oriented approach to Parkour, where each movement and line is critically analyzed and practiced extensively to achieve the desired perfection.

Influence of community and mentors — discusses the significant impact that local Parkour legends and peers have on a person’s training ethos, particularly how early influences can shape one’s technical skills and overall approach to the sport.

Visualization and mental preparation — sheds light on the mental aspect of Parkour, where visualizing movements and lines the night before training helps enhance performance and creativity.

Adaptation and evolution of practice — explores how one’s style and focus in Parkour may evolve, from performing high-impact moves to prioritizing efficiency and flow in movements as one matures in the sport.

Global Parkour community — touches on the desire to connect with Parkour practitioners worldwide, particularly from regions known for producing exceptionally skilled athletes, to learn and draw inspiration.

The joy and personal satisfaction of Parkour — conveys that beyond technical achievement, the personal joy and satisfaction derived from mastering challenging movements are the core motivations for engaging in Parkour.

Future aspirations and openness to new challenges — reflects on future goals, including the integration of other forms of movement and fitness into Parkour practice to maintain health, enjoyment, and overall well-being.

Resources

Meet the BOUNCIEST Freerunner on Earth — Recent documentary and training video with George McGowan, by JimmyTheGiant.

Robbie Corbett — Mentioned as a collaborator in the Parkour documentary, known for his involvement in the Parkour community.

USA Parkour Cup — An event where Parkour athletes compete, and where George McGowan had notable participation in 2022.

World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF) — An organization involved in the promotion and structuring of Parkour and Freerunning worldwide. Mentioned as having invited George to participate in a documentary.

@georgepkay — George McGowan on Instagram

ADAPT Qualifications — A certification program for Parkour coaching, mentioned as a credential held by George McGowan.

Motus Project — YouTube search results for George and Motus Project videos.

International Parkour Federation — Contains some information and links on Iran’s parkour community and athletes, who George expressed a desire to train with and learn from.

(Written with help from Chat-GPT.)

Incredible

The linked post is an Apple-specific, nerdy deep dive related to technical details in recording. In the specifics it’s about people ripping on Apple for certain claims about something being “shot on iPhone.”

I much prefer the other way of looking at this same rig, which is that it is incredible that this entire professional workflow is being funneled through a tiny sensor on basically the same telephone I have in my pocket right now.

~ Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/linklog/let-loose-lenses/

Heer is so spot-on here. Hear! Hear! I love this sentiment. When I take a moment to mentally zoom out, I’m knocked out by the incomprehensibly-advanced super-computers which are now everywhere. If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

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Resistance

Opinions are strongly divided about Pressfield’s concept of Resistance. And yes, some days I do find myself over in the Resistance-is-bullshit encampment thinking: No, Resistance is not real. It is important and meaningful for me to be spending my time rearranging these deck chairs, polishing this silverware, sorting these shelved books, getting the edge of my lawn just so, tagging and organizing all these blog posts… And then, “Curse you, Resistance!!

For myself, I was years into the act of having a practice before I even thought about its efficacy as a strategy to overcome my own Resistance. Resistance was (and is) a given for me. It wakes up with me. I know I will have to face it every day, and I know it will never diminish or relent or go away.

~ Steven Pressfield from, https://stevenpressfield.com/2024/02/a-practice-and-resistance/

I’ve been looking for a word to replace “professional” in my regular usage. (Please hit reply if you’ve got one.) I’ve given up on changing how others perceive the words I say; People take professional to first refer to getting paid for one’s efforts. But by professional I mean—and this is the way Pressfield uses the word—competent, skilled, assured, and approaching mastery. Steve Martin is talking about that sort of professionalism, not about money, when he says, “be so good they can’t ignore you.”

Why do I care? Because with the concept of getting paid pushed aside, then professionalism can be used as a razor for cutting through resistance. I simply consider my practices (left for another day is the discussion of whether or not it works to have more than one practice) and ask the question: Would a professional do this?

Yes, a professional would take time off for this restorative activity. No, a professional would just ignore these deck chairs. Yes, a professional would spend 3 days writing software tooling so 10 years from now this stuff is still organized and useful. No, a professional would not stoop to that level. Yes, a professional would totally get this part pitch perfect.

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To write is human

I write here a great deal about journaling. It’s not lost on me that in a way, what I write here is a sort of journal. I began by creating small journals for specific trips where selecting the journal itself was part of the trip preparation. Soon I began using dedicated journals and started writing when I felt like it. The more I wrote, the more I appreciated the practice. I’m long convinced that the mind is for having ideas, not for holding them. In fact, often I use my journals to chase things out of my mind; get thee gone flittering woes and flocking shoulds!

Lately, I’ve been dipping into my personal archives – specifically, my old journals – to reacquaint myself with the person I was 20 years ago, doing remote fieldwork in the Canadian Arctic for eight weeks each summer. I’m writing a book, you see, about my experiences as a field scientist, and though my memories of that time seem strong, I’m still surprised by some of what appears in my journals. For example, I didn’t remember arriving in the field as early as I did one year, or the level of frustration I had when some of my equipment didn’t work. My journals bring these events back to me, in full colour and precise detail, allowing me to add lyrical descriptions and scenes to my book.

~ Sarah Boon from, https://psyche.co/ideas/learn-the-art-of-journaling-and-archive-your-life

One day—yes I could look it up—I sat down and figured out a way to be able to review all my handwritten journals based on the dates of the entries. (Relax, you can see there’s no wall of text coming. I’m not going to explain it.) Now, when I sit down to journal, I can flit back to any point. I don’t know how to explain how powerful that is. I know me best. Absolutely, 100%, no exaggeration, no wiggle room, the big lessons I’ve learned through my own hard work of listening(!), reflecting, journaling and reviewing said journaling.

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Meditation

If I were forced to choose—in some trolley-car, false dichotomy, morality scenario—whether to give up meditation or journaling, I’m pretty sure I’d give up journaling before meditation. Or at least, that’s the lie I’d tell you. One’s meditation practice will inevitably settle into some specific physical form. The stillness is one of the keys. I was once sat (in the “having something done to you” sense) in a particular position, in the vein of a particular tradition, and now after 25 years meditating there, that’s the position I will forever assume. Still, even now for me it’s an uncommon position, it’s an uncommon point of view, and it’s an uncommon intention. Frankly, in the beginning it was simply physical agony. Now, it doesn’t make sense to not do it. Which is right, then or now?

A lot of people said meditation is like jogging or like lying in the sun on the beach. This shows a huge misunderstanding about what meditation is. Meditation is a way to go within, all the way within to the deepest level of life, the transcendence, the absolute, the totality and reality, and experience that. The human being is built for it.

~ David Lynch from, https://the-talks.com/interview/david-lynch

The more I read, the more I’m certain that the “now” is right.

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