Humility and utility

Posted by Patrick in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I recently read a thread on a parkour and freerunning forum, where the original poster was asking for advice. He had regular run-ins with some bullies who made fun of him for training parkour, and he needed help with how to handle it.

The majority of the respondents had the right idea — ignore your aggressors, they advised, and pursue your own training. After all, it’s not for them that we train our bodies and minds, but for ourselves.

A few other members of the forum, though, took on a different tone: smile smugly with your head held high, they counseled, knowing that you have embraced a philosophy far superior to that of your antagonists.

“They don’t understand what we know,” one contended. “They possibly never will.”

Doesn’t this contradict one of the main points of the art of movement? The way that we move is not special, does not depend upon some secret knowledge. It’s sublimely human, the birthright of locomotion anyone can claim. The idea of exclusivity seems out of place in a tradition open to all humanity.

For all the personal growth the art of movement can bring, it is just another path that one may choose to walk. Who are we to say that it’s the best one, or that it’s the only one that can bring one toward enlightenment? How can we claim that our discipline make us intrinsically better than nonpractitioners? It’s as absurd as being smug about choosing pink as one’s favourite colour.

To me, the path of the traceur is grounded in respect, humility, and service. Isn’t it disrespectful to disparage others’ choices? How can we be useful to our fellow man if we consider ourselves above them?

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