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Lions Roar : May 2014
Our discipline—which is called l’art du deplacement, freerunning, or parkour—provides a workspace, a way to make friends with our fears, to come to know our personal limitations, to explore their textures and experience their rationale. The general practice is to try to escape from fear, to flee anything that we believe will affect our fragile equilibrium, to stay all wrapped up in the comfort of familiarity. It is normal to want to avoid pain and seek happiness; it is a principle at the basis of all life (i.e., survival). But to achieve true happiness, and not an artificial or ephemeral sub- stitute, we need insight. And insight is only possible if we stop run- ning away. Everyone has days when they want to stay home tucked under the blankets, but we can’t spend our entire lives doing that. We must abandon our false, albeit comforting, beliefs. We need to face the world. Experience the world. When we say that parkour enables us to face our fears, people almost invariably think we mean fears such as the fear of heights or the fear of falling. But there are a number of different kinds of fears that can come up in the course of this practice: losing control; fear of lone- liness, ridicule, or shame; fear of the unknown, weakness, injury, death or oblivion, disease, and aging. What we really need to do is learn how to identify which fears are our friends and how others hold us back by deforming our perspective of reality. Many fears have their uses, their rationale, and to study how they function is actually quite fascinating. It’s up to each of us to be good students, to live well; nothing can force us to grow in self-awareness. Sometimes we need to experience fear. This is also true of parkour: to experience our fears, break their stranglehold (or sometimes fail to do so) and not to run away from them, forget about them, or deny them. This is very concrete, a way to come in contact with reality. soMetiMes we feel as though we’re simply too tired to continue training. But is it really true, or is something else going on? Is there a real physical need—and a key protective mechanism kicking in—or just some well-camouflaged laziness? Are we afraid of failing to exe- cute a supposedly simple movement in front of bystanders or other practitioners? Are we lacking confidence in our abilities? If we stop, would that show there’s a pattern of not putting out enough effort? Asking yourself these questions can be a challenging exercise, but real training involves learning not to deceive ourselves. Authenticity is one of the main qualities of the warrior. The risks found in parkour are not inherent in the discipline itself; the degree of risk is the practitioner’s choice. He or she is responsible for exercising discretion and humility. Of course, even people who do not practice sports are regularly confronted by hazards and a degree of uncertainty, whether they’re conscious of it or not. The parkour artist’s task is to determine which risks, even those that are carefully calculated, facilitate growth and which others only cater to the ego (the exact opposite of growth). Simply calculating is one thing. Even more dangerous is to set your sights exclusively on measureable achievements. To obsess over results. To reach for a new record. Parkour artists must break with the frantic performance drive instilled by the modern world. SHAMBHALA SUN MAy 2014 68