This post presents a gallery of ALL images in this series. You can click on any to enlarge; you can even click on the first, sit back, and it’ll run them all as a slide show. The gallery is dynamic so it will automatically grow…
If you want to repeat that little jump at an angle to a moss covered wall all day until you can do it with your eyes closed… well my friend, you are not alone. I want to repeat that jump with you. But let’s do 50, just to be sure. And one more for the others who can’t join us. That’ll do us both more good than that big roof gap whilst you hold the camera.
~ Chris ‘Blane’ Rowat, from A Call To Arms
By now, all of my friends know I practice parkour with Lehigh Valley Parkour. I’m pushing 42, with graying hair and the BMI calculator says 34.9, (which is “obesity.”) So when people first find out, they raise an eyebrow and say, “You’re a brave soul!” or “Huh? The jumping from roof-top to roof-top thing?!”. …my answer is ‘no’ to both of those.
Please do not go to TouYube and look up parkour; Total waste of your time. This is one of those Catch-22 things where the people who believe — quietly, to themselves — that they “get it”… well, those people aren’t posting spectacular videos on TouYube. So you don’t notice their point of view on the whole thing.
I am not saying, “those people over there have it wrong.” I am not saying, “parkour is the One True Path(tm)”. I am not saying, “these ideas are to be found only through parkour.”
I am saying:
…a journey composed of tiny steps so easy that failure is impossible.
…the grueling, deconstructing, work of self-improvement.
…that well-earned sense of accomplishment.
…the joie-de-vivre that I hadn’t noticed I let slip away.
“…and one more for the others who can’t join us.” :*)
Uncle Bob, from The Frenzied Panic of Rushing:
Getting done right does not mean getting done slow. Getting done right means getting done fast. You will go faster if you do things right. You will go faster if you come down off the “high” generated by the illusion that effort is speed. You will go faster if you calm down, follow your disciplines, and refuse to rush.
While he’s talking about software development in general, and test-driven development specifically, this is true for – I think – everything. My experience is that this is true for software development, and other technical work. But it is also true of martial arts practice, parkour, games, building model airplanes… you name it.
The pervasive admonishment should be “do it well,” rather than, “slow down.” Do it well and you’ve – by definition – done it as fast as possible. What’s the point of doing it poorly? What’s the point of rushing to completion; If you didn’t do it well, then it’s not done.
is better than
“did not finish”
“did not start.”
for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
~ Plato, cf. “finished last”
Never throw in the towel.
Use it to wipe the sweat from your brow.
Then keep going.
~ unknown, cf. “did not finish”
The hardest part of any journey
is believing you are able to begin it.
~ unknown, cf. “did not start”
When we are unaware of our thoughts and urges, which arise in the back of our mind mostly unnoticed, they have a power over us. We are unable to change if these unbidden thoughts control us. But when we learn to observe them, we can then release their power over us.
Meditation is practice for observing those thoughts, for being more mindful of them throughout the day.
~ Leo Babauta, from Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit,
Meditation is literally the easiest thing you can add to your life — 5 minutes, 2 minutes, even 60 seconds will do you good. As I wrote elsewhere:
If you were handed a large bucket of sloshing and disturbed water and told to calm the water, you should simply set the bucket down and wait for the water to calm. You would definitely NOT shake the bucket in an attempt to convince the water to calm down.
Driving, texting, walking, rushing, typing, watching TV, playing games, talking, frenzied eating. Set the bucket down for a few minutes.
To last? That old lesson about the brightest flame burning the quickest is particularly true in Parkour. What use is a person who lasts five years and has to stop training due to bad knees and a broken ankle? How useful is a body that can’t move pain free due to years of neglect and abuse? The journey of Parkour was never meant to be a brilliant flash of spectacle and show, it was always intended to be a lifelong pursuit of improvement and one that doesn’t need to end once the body begins to show signs of age.
~ Chris “Blane” Rowat, from 50 Ways To Be and To Last in Parkour
Ignore the show reels. Ignore the spectacular. Those MAY be inspirational to you, but your journey SHOULD be a long series of small, eminently POSSIBLE steps. Go to your first class and try anything; try SOMETHING. Stop when your body has had enough. Repeat. In a few months, you will have grown so much that you will hardly recognize yourself.
You can harness and channel these needs, but a man completely ignores them at his peril. Modern men are told there’s nothing real about manhood — that it’s all a silly, outdated cultural construct — and they sure work hard to believe it. And yet they cannot shake a deep sense of malaise, and they don’t know why.
~ Brett McKay, from Where Does Manhood Come From?
I consider myself very lucky. I’m expressing my mid-life crisis in some pretty healthy and productive ways. Instead of going on a more traditional bender, I’m shaking off shackles and bindings that I in fact put on.
One day I realized that there is no longer anyone left to tell me what to do. Certainly one has responsibilities, but there are precious few of those which are immutable bedrock. You look at your life and think, “Look at all these ideas I’ve accepted.” When you pick idly at some of the threads, the whole thing comes apart, and you find yourself in a row boat on the sea — or on a bicycle on the open road (choose your own metaphor). On the open sea in a good way; You realize you are free, that in fact you have NOT always been free, and that there’s an awful lot of life left to live now that you’re ready to start.
Two years ago today, I showed up at Wescosville Elementary at 4pm and tried parkour. A very big thank you to everyone ( Adam, Josh, Joseph, and Miguel in particular) who has been friendly, happy, and encouraging these last two years. This week I will be attempting the ADAPT 1 certification; I could not have accomplished what I have without all the help from the wonderful men and women of lehigh valley parkour. “allez, allez!”
My suspicion is that, in our convenient society, we don’t need to be acutely aware of our balance and body positions vis a vis the ground because many of us don’t do much physical labor anymore, or play freely as kids outdoors now that we have so many enticing computer games to entertain us.
~ Wayne Muromoto, from The base: close to the ground
More than a year ago, I wrote that parkour is about freedom (and much more.) There is also a visceral component that I’m finding is playing a greater and greater role.
characterized by, or proceeding from, instinct rather than intellect: a visceral reaction; characterized by, or dealing with, coarse or base emotions.
When you treat your body like a Cadillac meat vehicle – that is, when it’s just a mode of conveyance from one creature-comfort to the next – you soon cease to be intimately aware of what your body is feeling. A large part of the allure of parkour is the immediate and clear, honesty and reality of the experience of training. It’s obvious that your body and mind are not readily separable, but in normal daily life, one mostly ignores the body. In parkour, the body and mind have to work in harmony.
I have a lot more to say about this harmony (my personal interpretation, and explanation, thereof.) But for the moment, I’m just going to start with the above.