Lately I have been talking quite a bit about the importance of helping others, and emphasizing that it is a large part of this discipline of parkour and art du déplacement, and yes, even freerunning. I cannot stress this point enough.
This discipline... the movements we use... let us take a deeper look into what it all is for. Let us come to truly understand why it is that we continue to do these things that we do. I am not just talking about parkour/ADD/freerunning, but life itself (although I will be relating this to our particular discipline of movement). Take a moment and really focus on this. Let it sink in. Especially those of us who are "beginners" in this discipline.
It is not just about the jumping, the climbing or the running. It is not simply about trying to achieve a further jump distance, or to build aesthetically pleasing, toned muscles. It is not entirely about trying to have fun and escape boredom. It is not only about overcoming fears, taking managed risks to push your limits and surpass levels you never imagined you would reach. It is not solely a matter of building confidence in every day life, learning to overcome all types of obstacles and discovering creative solutions to complex situations and problems. It is not merely never giving up, learning to struggle and understanding when it is okay or the right time to let go and move on.
That was a whole lot of "not" - but don't be confused, the discipline does include all of that.
This discipline, even with its endless array of physical aspects, is actually a mindset more than anything else. By "mindset", I do not mean to say that you go out to train and get "in the zone" for training. I do not speak of a "zone" where we are pumping with adrenaline, excited to beast our way through a workout and come out on "top", having learned a new movement or finally "broken a jump" (doing a jump for the first time; often this phrase is used when the jump was difficult for you to wrap your head around or took a bit of training to accomplish). For those of you that have been to one of my classes or events before: I am not talking about a "zone" in which you are struggling to complete a round of quadrupedal movement without giving up, either. We should learn and strive to be in this "zone" all the time.
This "zone" I speak of is really more of a perspective, a way of looking at the world and people around you. A perspective and an understanding of our purpose. When we are training physically, it is a perspective of the reasons we are doing so. When we are struggling (as in those rounds of quadrupedal movement we have grown to love so much... right?), it is a deeper understanding of what really drives us in order to keep going. It is an understanding of our desire to keep trying, no matter what pain it brings us, how long it takes, how much further we have to go. It is a perspective of the connections we have to literally everything around us, whether we can see it or not.
Above, I used the word "beginners" and I put it in quotes. We are all beginners. In this discipline, I believe that there are no beginners and there are no masters. Yes, some people have come to be able to move in ways that others see and sometimes desire to achieve (or maybe even immediately assume that they could never achieve it, which is just not true). But, the biggest difference between "beginners" and the real "masters" of this discipline is just a matter of that perspective, that understanding.
Our "beginners" just have not yet opened their eyes to a way of life in which boundaries do not really exist. The boundaries may always be there - but they are never a definitive end to your path. Physical world boundaries, like handrails and walls. Mental boundaries within, like telling yourself that you cannot do this, or could never do that. Emotional and social boundaries, like feelings of inadequacy, loneliness or inferiority (and the opposites: things like cockiness, having an ego, or feelings of superiority). These things do exist. But they can also all be overcome. There are no "beginners" because there is no end.
Perhaps the most important part of this perspective I have begun to try to put into words is the understanding that we are in this together. Whatever "this" is. We are, each and every one of us, a part of this planet and even the endless universe it belongs to. Divisions between us have, for whatever reason(s), been fabricated in our minds and continue to drive us further and further from our planet and each other every day. We are not apart from our environments. We are included in them, not just surrounded by them. We are not apart from one another either.
Our geographic coordinates do not have any bearing on our importance to this world. Those who argue that their country is "better" than any other are only fooling themselves. We developed countries together as the human race. We searched the world looking for new places, perhaps for new people with which to interact. In our explorations and discoveries we "created" all of these logical but still completely imaginary divisions of ourselves: tribes, villages, towns, cities, counties, states, provinces, countries, continents and the like. We created these divisions but we drew out maps of these lands as well - I would like to think that these maps were an attempt to organize things in a way such that we could find our way back "home" and to stay connected with the ones that we love.
We could now locate each other, no matter how far we may part. At some point (I would suspect out of fear of the unknown and a lack of trust, or out of unmanaged anger or a lack of understanding) this all turned into this "us versus them" mentality. Somebody drew lines on those maps, and somehow we came to believe that those lines were real boundaries and that we are separate people. We now live in a world where wars are started, fights and arguments are common, competition is a part of every day life, and too many have joined this generally unhappy conglomerate of people who believe that they need to achieve a certain standard of modern living. No number of dollars will truly make you happy, no brand name clothing will make you "better" than another human being, nobody really cares what kind of car you drive, how big your TV is or what your rank is in that popular videogame.
We all live and we will all die. Life can and will be unfair at times, for some more than others (the unequal distribution of the unfairness is part of the unfairness...). Part of this perspective is also understanding that fact and accepting it, growing to love your life and all that are or is included in it. However, we should also strive to take care of one another, so that we may continue to provide this wonderful opportunity of life for future generations.
Back to the focus of this article (or rather, coming back to the relation to parkour/ADD/freerunning). This "mindset", "zone", "perspective"... call it what you want really... I believe that this is the spirit of our discipline. It is not a spirit that is only to be paired with our vaults, precision jumps, cat leaps or any of our many movements.
The spirit carries through all of life. The training of the spirit (no matter how or what it is that you train) helps us discover, re-discover, and share this connection. Through this connection... through the spirit... we can come together, understand and love one another non-selectively, and move forward... always together, because we can never really be apart.