(Part 9 of 28 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)
Why does Parkour so effectively teach resilience? Because your regular world and your regular life are DESIGNED for your interaction. Stairs are a certain height, walking surfaces are smooth and even, door knobs are convenient, chairs, air conditioning, trains and autos; Everything you interact with is designed for human interaction. In a very real sense, that’s what “civilized” means.
Have you ever stopped to consider something as simple and common as doorways? What would life like, if – just for some historic reason – every doorway was only 4 feet high? Life would be much better simply because everyone would have to bend over regularly!
What if stairs were the norm? What if walking was the norm?
When you begin exploring your world through the lens of Parkour, you are told to intentionally seek out challenges. In Parkour practice, you’re exposing yourself to a hard choice: Bend your mind and body to the challenge, or face pain and injury. A good coach sets you up for success, but you’re still told to go under that railing, climb over that wall, and put your hands on that rough concrete. You have to teach your mind and body how to be resilient so that you can rediscover the ways already within yourself to interact with an environment that is, at best, indifferent to your wellbeing.
Once you see things differently, you can start interacting with things that were specifically designed for some reason other than human interaction. You start by looking at your world this way as part of a specific practice; “I’m going to class and the instructor makes us do this”. Eventually, the mindset becomes comfortable on its own without prompting, and you begin to automatically practice a mindful resilience in your daily life.
How could I get to that place over there without using that obvious pedestrian route? How would I get down there, or up there? Why am I eating inside when it’s so nice outside? What would I do if an emergency happened right now?
Once you are well and truly comfortable with the resilient mindset, your body relaxes and the physical uncertainty, or even fear, that you were unconsciously feeling goes away. In it’s place wells up good old natural Human Curiosity. Your mind says, “Sure, let’s go this other way,” and, “Let’s take this road less travelled.” It really does make all the difference.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost, from The Road Not Taken