Quantitative versus qualitative

That is how we are still conditioned socially as adults: Do, achieve, produce results, instead of be, feel, enjoy the process. Quantitative over qualitative. We are obsessed by performance and “tangible” results. But that is one of the great teachings of Parkour and ADD: That the path is just as enjoyable as the destination; That sometimes it is even more important, and that oftentimes it is the destination.

~ Vincent Thibault

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Ignorance

One can’t learn something new without first admitting one’s ignorance. No matter how great a tea is, none can be poured into a cup that is full of water or turned upside down. There is no trying without being ready to fail. […] Some people, out of pride, exclusively want to achieve; Some others are willing to learn. Guess who gets most done in the long run?

~ Vincent Thibault

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Dignity and potential

Acknowledging our fundamental dignity, recognizing our potential and actively working towards its blossoming with sincerity, patience, and integrity, is what makes a life worth living. There will be challenges, and new gaps will constantly open, but recognizing and closing these gaps will make a difference in absolutely everything we undertake.

~ Vincent Thibault

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Opportunity in adversity

One of the most important factors, are we to be happy and whole human beings, is our ability to see opportunities in adversities. That is one the most powerful lessons in Parkour and ADD: Learning, whenever needed, to thrive on obstacles. Our discipline indeed tells us of the fundamental difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. The former believes, “I am bad at this,” the latter proposes, “I am better than this; I can learn something.”

~ Vincent Thibault

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Failure

I’ve recently begun the long project of looking through my past recordings. Only in the last month or so have I been keeping notes about the conversations as I record them, and I want to go back to day-one, (January 28, 2017,) and update my notes on who, when, where— but also the themes and ideas that were discussed. (I’m not listening to everything, just going through the scattered information I already have about the recordings.) Although it’s a lot of work, it’s rewarding to see so many things organized in one centralized system! These days, ideas and connections I find in the slipbox also point me to my specific conversations.

It’s inevitable that you’re going to fail. If you’re not failing, then you’re definitely doing something wrong because you’re supposed to find your limits. There are parts of it that are going to suck the whole way along— that’s a perfect possibility, but you’re going to grow.

~ Adam McClellan from, Community, goal setting, and coaching

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You may fail miserably, or you’re gonna break through it— you’re gonna learn something new about yourself, and you’re gonna develop a new skill out of necessity that you didn’t have at the beginning of the painting. So that’s what keeps me excited about making paintings, is because I couldn’t do the same thing over and over again. I have to manufacture some sort of potential failure there.

~ Jonny Hart from, Art, coaching, and breaking jumps

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Also: Delightful connections like the two quotes above fall into my lap along the way.

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Intentional

About a month ago, I was lamenting the loss of some of my Movement mojo. After some soul-searching, we started with a simple change: Rather than waiting for movement to happen as a part of our day, we began asking a simple question, every day:

“What are we doing tomorrow?”

For fun, we set this chalkboard-wall up to encourage activity and to let us savor the decreasing number of days to American Rendezvous, a Parkour event held in Somerville, just across the Charles River from Boston.

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The balance of no-balance

There was no sense of trying to balance my desire for doing good and useful things with my desire for comfort and pleasure. I let the good and useful always outrank the pleasurable and comfortable. Operating this way entailed a fair amount of physical discomfort, but it felt far more emotionally comfortable than trying to manage two competing sets of values.

And here’s the interesting part: pleasure and comfort arose constantly anyway. I enjoyed them when they did, with no sense of tradeoff or guilt. However, I didn’t do anything just because it was pleasurable or comfortable, and ironically that made for a much more pleasant and comfortable existence.

~ David Cain from, https://www.raptitude.com/2021/04/the-ancient-art-of-using-time-well/

I have a few reminders that are variations of the idea that I cause all the problems I experience. The more I let that idea seep in, the better things seem to get. It takes energy to balance; balancing priorities, balancing goals, balancing time-frames of planning, balancing rationalization versus guilt, balancing energy levels, balancing responsibilities, balancing gratification versus delay, …

Try this: find something to balance on. Something pretty easy. A 2×4 laid on its wide side, or stood on it’s narrow edge. A curb. A railing if you dare. Get a stopwatch and balance (your toes/heel go along the thing you’re on, not perched like a bird) for 30 minutes. No music, no walking forward or backward, no doing anything else. Shift to the other foot when one side is tired. If you fall off, don’t chide yourself. Simple get back on. Practice being kind to yourself as you do this.

Balancing takes tremendous energy.

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Parkour and I, six years ago

It’s endlessly rewarding to regularly read through my old journals. Six years ago, June 5 2015, I can now see was a turning point for me. I hopped in a car with John G. and Nick R. and headed to Brooklyn for what would be a life-changing experience.

I had been jumping on stuff pretty seriously for a few years, and the “USA Motion Tour”—a merry band of a few Yamakasi—was rolling into New York City. Two people, now good friends of mine after many years, hosted me on their floor. That was my first true “parkour floor” experience; two square meters to sleep, wifi and a bathroom. I trained my heart out, in a good way, and it was a gateway to countless and continuing adventures.

To everyone who was there— I cannot thank you enough. On commence ensemble, on finit ensemble.

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Be kind to yourself

I just finished listening to an interview with Stephane Vigroux (see, 123, and 4) and one of his take-aways—the point he ended with actually—was that your parkour practice should make you happy. If I may unpack a bit: That you should be kind to yourself.

Stephane teaches a drill which has many variations, but is roughly to spend 30 minutes balancing on a rail. One finds something reasonable to balance on, like a simple railing or a low bar, where falling off has no consequences and where it’s easy to re-mount. When balancing, simply stand as still as you can. Switch legs and positions as you need to, but mostly, simply stand still and balance. If you fall off, simply get back on, and be kind to yourself for the duration.

Go do this drill. Seriously. If you cannot balance on a railing, scale the challenge down to fit your ability; Find a narrow wall, a curb, something the size of a shoebox, a bench—whatever, and alternate balancing on one foot at a time.

I’ve had the chance to train with Stephane a few times. Once, in Évry France (right in front of the Cathedral) a large group was being led by Williams Belle through a long sequence of ground movements. I had arrived at the event from another week-long event, in the middle of a summer after I had recently given up a year-long physical challenge that had my left shoulder with an aching weakness. It was only mid-morning and I was grinding my way through the physical training. There was a tremendous group spirit of support and encouragement, with everyone—absolutely everyone being pushed to their own personal limits. There was shouting and cheering and a good bit of laughing.

I could have continued. It’s possible that every other time I had ever done physical training I did continue. I had struggled through the, “this hurts I want to quit,” rationalization much earlier that morning. But for some reason, at some random moment, I stood up and walked off to the side where I sat down on an outdoor chair in the shade. At that moment, it felt right to choose to be kind to myself rather than persevere.

After a few minutes, Stephane also stopped, walked over, sat down in a neighboring chair, and asked how I was doing. It wasn’t an, “are you injured, why have you stopped?” visit. Just a friend dropping by to see how I was feeling.

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Vital inward loosening

Martial art is not merely the physical act of filling time and space with precision-like movements. Machines can do that, too. As he matures, a martial artist will realize that his kick or punch is really not so much a tool to conquer his opponent, but a tool to explode through his consciousness, his ego, and all mental obstacles. Indeed, the tools are ultimately a means for penetrating the depth of his being so that he will restore the equilibrium of his inner center of gravity. With this vital inward loosening flows his outward expression of his tools. Behind each physical movement of an accomplished martial artist is this wholeness of being, this all-inclusive attitude.

~ Bruce Lee, from Lee’s typed essay entitled “Jeet Kune Do—Toward Personal Liberation,” circa 1971. ( With a hat-tip to the book, “Bruce Lee: Artist of Life” by J Little, 1999, recommended to me by S Foucan. )

Apparently, there’s nothing new under the sun. This sentiment fits perfectly with my concept of what my Art du Déplacement practice is. In some respects my ten-year-ago self is an unrecognizably different person. I’m only able to remember and reconcile who that person was thanks to my journals. There are many threads to the story of that decade. But if I had to point to one thread, I’d point to my practice, and I wouldn’t disagree that “vital inward loosening” is a fitting description.

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