§19 – One word

(Part 31 of 34 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

What is it, in this sport or project, that moves me, motivates me, nourishes me—and helps me thrive and shine?

~ Vincent Thibault

What facilitates my flourishing? Today, I’m going to say it’s space.

Not physical space—although there’s a nice metaphor here about having things planted too closely in a garden and how that affects the plants’ flourishing. No, not physical space; I’ve plenty of that.

Perhaps not even mental space—I’m certainly buffeted about by the myriad winds of demands and responsibilities. But with very few exceptions, I’ve created all of those zephyrs. No, although I have left myself no mental space, I am able usually to create it on demand.

Most likely it’s emotional space. The idea that we need room to soak in the emotional experiences that go along with the reality of things, events, and people, and to do that with no specific “why” in mind.

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§16 – Don’t be that guy

(Part 28 of 34 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

Serendipity.

I’ve been working on writing these thoughts for over three years. Without actually checking, I think it was the Fall of 2015 when I sat in Le Jardin Joan d’Arc and read my copy of Thibault’s book in one, all-day sitting. Almost 4 years ago?

I created this particular blank note for Chapter 16 in May of 2016. “16”?

As I’m writing, it is May of 2019. Another, “May”?

About three years ago I started the project which eventually became Movers Mindset. Two years ago the project grew to include a podcast.

This morning, I feel compelled to “finally” get around to writing something for Chapter 16. I open my digital copy, flip to Chapter 16, and I read, “Chris ‘Blane’ Rowat once wrote…”

Care to guess who I am interviewing for the podcast today? Yes, really.

This is sublime.

All those threads woven together lead to this moment of realization at 8:00 in a rented London flat, 6,000km from my home.

Critically, while I’ve known for months the exact date and time of Chris’ interview, I’ve not read Chapter 16 recently enough to have remembered that it starts with his sentiments. If I had, I’d certainly have made some complicated plan to co-publish this writing and the podcast, or something—but this serendipity would not have materialized. Energized by the jolt of adrenaline when I read Chapter 16 this morning, I now feel a renewed belief in the entire Movers Mindset project! (Which is good, because most days there’s more strenuous labor than love in the labor of love.)

But, serendipity and coincidence are bullshit.

It’s just my brain, (yours may be the same,) working its tremendous powers of pattern matching. This morning my mind found a slightly-more-interesting-than-usual pattern and screamed, (ala the old adrenal gland,) that it had found something that demanded much closer attention. I’ve been spurred to carefully read Chapter 16 about five times this morning, to mull over my thoughts, to spend an hour or so writing, and to think of all the people I want to share this story with. I was inspired to create a vision of how the interview will go, new questions have popped into my head, and I’ve thought of a specific person who I now realize I’d forgot for about two years!

I wonder: What would life be like if I simply paid closer attention?

What if—instead of needing a kick in the adrenals to be this motivated—I could begin to intentionally notice things a bit smaller than this morning’s coincidence?

What if!

…and of course, “don’t be that guy.”

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Quadrupedal Movement

(Part 74 of 74 in My Journey)

Quadrupedal Movement (QM) is a diverse collection of movements using both hands and feet on the ground to support one’s weight.

QM is almost always done using just the feet, and not the knees, since our knees are not capable of taking prolonged usage or impact. That said, there are some small-size, low-impact, movements using various surfaces of the knees, lower legs, buttocks, and thighs which integrate well with the usual hands-and-feet-only QM.

There are countless variations of QM. Many variations are physically demanding, but many are drastically easier than the more usual bipedal movements: Using a railing with your hands for balance and support as you ascend stairs, using walking sticks and canes, and “scrambling” on hands and feet up steep slopes, are all common variations of QM.

Start here https://gmb.io/locomotion/

…and then take a look at some advanced options, Two Hours and a Slab of Concrete.

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Meta: I’m retiring this series, “My Journey.” Over the years, my blog has changed a lot. In the beginning I had a lot of more random things here and I used this series as a way to highlight this aspect of my blog writing. Today, the blog itself is basically a record of my journey.

§15 – A great recipe to be stressed out

(Part 27 of 34 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

Have you noticed: Once you know something, you see it everywhere?

Reading this section, I’m reminded of Joe Erhmann’s ideas from the book “InsideOUT Coaching,” and of Steven Covey’s, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” Both of which also counsel beginning with what’s inside; Beginning by taking a step back and noticing — perhaps _learning_ to notice is the first step — the broader context.

Over a decade ago, the previous-me was entirely focused inward, on myself, on the small picture. That previous-me molted as I managed to become self aware and began learning empathy. With empathy came the ability to listen and, most recently, the ability to communicate, “How can I help?”

And yet I still regularly find myself stressed out.

My impatience regarding…
fat loss
movement progression
the podcast
memento mori

…grows, and the things I appreciate– the things I have now which I have worked so vary hard for to this point– …well, I’ve grown accustomed to them and while I still internally appreciate them I’ve stopped showing that appreciation externally.

I need to shift my goals.

I need to move the goal posts.

I need to set milestones at smaller intervals.

When you make some new connection, one then suddenly sees it everywhere.

On a recent Saturday — a day I usually jam full of goals — I accidentally set so few goals for the day, that by 4pm I was completely done. Normally, I set my goals at “do all the things” [meme image omitted :], and at some point each day I surrender with a fatalistic, “that’s enough for today!” It took me a long time to get comfortable knowing I’m organized and motivated enough that I will make progress towards my long-term goals. But every day is either a day “off” with rest and relaxation with minimal work towards goals, or a day “on” where everything is ordered– flexible, adjustable, prioritized sure, but ordered none the less.

On this particular Saturday, at 4pm…

It was surreal. It was just a nice feeling, like, “Okay, what do I want to do?” I wandered around in this daze of, “Gee, the weather is nice,” “Wow, the feel of the concrete under my bare feet is nice,” “I’d forgotten to notice how comfortable this chair is,” and “Wow, this food is particularly yummy.”

What was different? Nothing.

I still had — still have! — an enormously-complex, personal productivity system which holds all the things I’m working on. That’s not bad; That’s good. It helps me greatly by remembering everything for me, so I can use my brain for having ideas and doing things. I still have a house with a sort of strange spot on one of the ceilings that I think means the roof might be leaking. I still have a leak in the shower that I haven’t figured out. There’s still some firewood to be split.

…but for one evening — a Saturday from about 4pm until I went to sleep around 9:30 — for one evening, I clearly forgot to put in one (or both!) of the ingredients that make up the recipe for being stressed out.

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§14 – Precommit

(Part 26 of 34 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

The devil is in the details?

On one hand pre-committment gives you the power of hindsight; the power of having a higher view point– the executive-level view. You can sort out all the nuances and make an objective decision. But the downside is that you’re intentionally surrendering the ability to make flexible, quick decisions down the road when your day-to-day passions might lead off in a new direction.

Do I want to be sacrificing following my passions?

I’ve attempted — sometimes even “done” :) — big projects where I’ve invested a lot of time up-front thinking, planning, and then started off on the journey. But later, in the midst of the journey, I started to have doubts. Not small, nagging doubts, but well-founded, objective doubts. When that happens I’m faced with letting go of the sunk cost of the prep work that went into the pre-committment. I start thinking, “Look at all this planning I did. Look at how far I’ve come! This doubt must be unfounded.” And suddenly all my pre-commitment is working against me. Granted, the original intention of the pre-committment is to make it easier to achieve my goals, but it can pile on sunk costs, or worse, pile on guilt, which never serves me.

In the end, it seems I simply have to know myself: These days, a 30 day challenge is something I can probably do, but 100 days will probably become a drag.

The devil really is in the details.

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§12 – Don’t jump

(Part 24 of 34 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

I wish I could have read this section from Thibault in the early days of my parkour journey.

If there’s an aspect of parkour training which is alien — or at least, was alien to the entirety of my experience — it is the idea of not jumping, of not doing the challenge, and having that truly be training.

Sometimes, parkour is simply spending time with fear. Sometimes, parkour is simply being calm in proximity with danger. Sometimes, parkour is simply learning to love oneself despite not reaching goals. Sometimes, parkour is simply walking away. While that may seem ok, it’s better than ok: It’s terrific!

In order to feel that one’s life is flowing more slowly — and fully — one might seek out new situations over and over to have novel experiences that, because of their emotional value, are retained by memory over the long term. Greater variety makes a given period of life expand in retrospect. Life passes more slowly. If one challenges oneself consistently, it pays off, over the years, as the feeling of having lived fully — and, most importantly, of having lived for a long time.

~ Marc Wittmann, from The Psychology of Time and the Paradox of How Impulsivity and Self-Control Mediate Our Capacity for Presence

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§9 – Commit to the move

(Part 21 of 34 in Study inspired by Pakour & Art du Déplacement by V. Thibault)

No this. No that. No delay.

~ Sensei Wirth

If you want to go east, go east. If you want to go west, go west.

~ Koichi Tohei Sensei

If there’s somewhere you need to be, you need to start walking.

~ uncertain; possibly Lao-Tzu

Each of those quotes expresses a certain commitment to beginning; to taking action; to moving in a direct way. But what really is commitment? I thought I knew what commitment was, until I started to think deeply about it. Now, I’m uncertain.

There are some things to which I am deeply, unshakably, committed; Take breathing for example. At first glance this seems trivial since it’s a physiological imperative managed by the body. But if I imagine a scenario where someone is trying to prevent me from breathing, I can easily imagine myself consciously acting — wildly, vigorously, berserk even — to achieve the goal.

What would it mean to be that committed to something of my own conscious choosing?

What does it mean to “be committed to” a new habit?

Sure! I’m committed! I like this new idea — this new habit. I’m going to really stick to it! I have goals, and a plan. Let’s do this!

…and a month later the habit is nowhere to be seen. Does that failure mean I was actually not committed when I thought I was? Did my commitment evaporate over time? Are there degrees of commitment? Is there some minimum level of commitment necessary at the beginning to achieve certain goals? Does commitment need occasional inputs of energy to keep it going, like a spinning top? Or is commitment a simple binary — yes, or no?

Perhaps understanding commitment would be easier if I tried to untangle a simpler type of commitment. What does it mean to “commit to” a physical action in the very near future?

This jump scares me. But I know I can make it; I’ve definitely jumped this distance successfully many times. I know there’s value in doing this jump. I should do this. I want to do this! Okay, I’m committed! I’m ready! Here I go! abort! ABORT!!

What happened? I thought I was committed? Was I lying to myself when I said, “Okay, I’m committed”? What would it mean if it was possible to lie to myself– to truly believe myself when I was lying? Did my commitment somehow evaporate in the moment just before I aborted? Did my body — my physical corpus separate from my mind — somehow, literally, physically refuse my mind’s directions? Is that even be possible?

Here’s another experiment I’ve performed countless times: I get set up for a jump which pushes my limits. There are some consequences to missing, some real bit of danger is present, but it’s a good jump, something I know I can do. I’ve checked my surfaces, and I’ve explored and thought out everything to look for unknown-unknowns. I’m ready. The thinking-me-brain commits — really commits — we (the me-brain and the body) are ready to do this! And then I notice that my palms are sweating. Wait- What? Who called for sweating palms?!

Therefore I’m forced to wonder: Does my body have a mind of its own? In fact, I believe this is the case. We know the brain — the entire central nervous system — is an amalgam of layers. The thinking me’s consciousness is just the topmost layer, and there are deeper layers, sometimes called the “lizard brain”, performing fully autonomous functions. Performing many autonomous functions.

After all of that thinking and experimenting, I’m starting to believe that commitment is actually easy. The thinking-me-brain is good at committing to something after a bit of reasoned consideration. Committing may be one of its greatest skills, in stark contrast to the body’s short-sighted visceral behaviors.

So what then is hard?

Learning what level of control I am in fact able to exercise over the rest of my body is hard!

My commitment evaporates when my body rebels; When it literally, physically refuses my thinking-me-brain’s commands. My commitment evaporates when unconscious triggers, and reward/feedback loops, guide my actions when the thinking-me-brain isn’t actively paying attention. The teacher leaves the classroom and the students start throwing paper airplanes. “I thought we were committed to reading our studies! …why all this fooling around?!” I thought we were committed to this jump! Why have we not jumped?! Why are our palms sweating and heart racing?!

The more I examine this situation, the more it feels like the thinking-me-brain is a tiny little prisoner who has very little control over almost nothing.

“Commit to the move,” the book says. The tiny, weak, thinking-me-brain would love to practice talking the body into doing things it doesn’t want to do. So let’s — thinking-me and the body — let’s go out and see what we can agree to commit to!

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