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  • Foto van schrijverPieter Derycke

Hanging and the environment - part 3 - parkour vision and fear

In part 1 and part 2 I talked about the influence of your environment on your movement behaviour (is there any other behaviour?). We talked about how a rich and natural environment creates opportunities to move, and that generally, animals spontaneously use those chances to move and experiment. However, this post will be about using the already existing environment better.

[music for today: Marvin Gaye: ‘You’]

If we are talking about hanging, the concept of environmental enrichment really makes sense. Since humans organize and design their environment to be comfortable, smooth, cosy, warm, and free of obstacles, there is nowhere to hang and climb. So we need to create opportunities by adding stuff: a bar, rings, a rope, …

On the other hand, most people have forgotten to view their environment as they did when they were children. Kids see movement and play possibilities everywhere. In ‘l’art du déplacement’  this childlike (not childish!) attitude is called ‘parkour vision’. It is a way of looking at the environment and seeing plentiful movement opportunities. A rail is not just a rail, a bench is not just a bench. Just watch the movies below and you’ll see what I mean.

Parkour vision is a creative way of looking at the environment.

It is an original way of glancing at one’s surroundings.

We could even call it an aboriginal way of vieweing the world.

I’m still surprised that I often discover new movement opportunities in my own neighbourhood. A rail, a tree, a stone, a fence, a log, a hedge, … . I’m even more astonished to keep on finding new things to do with these obstacles… A tree that was at first only a branch to get up, changed into 2 branches to brachiate, changed into a whole tree to circle and swirl, first hesitatingly and then with more and more flow.

Some people, including me, don’t have to dig deep to find their inner child and to see the movement and play opportunities, but sometimes we fear exploring these chances. Fear of falling, fear of heights, and fear of injury are understandable, but a smart approach should take care of these barriers.

But then you have those other fears: fear of the unknown, fear of making a fool out of you, fear of being different, fear of losing control. These are comprehensible too! These are barriers as much as the other ones.

It really takes courage to confront all of these fears. And the sensible approach is to start at a level you’re comfortable with, and then challenge your comfort zone. A drop from just a bit higher, a roll on a harder surface, a jump onto a slippery surface. But the same principle applies for the ‘social fears’ that you may have. Start in the comfortzone of your home, when you’re alone in the forest, when you’re with family or friends, or with a group of kindred.

Instead of walking in the middle of the road, walk more to the edges and scan your surroundings. See what happens and if you feel comfortable here, maybe try walking beside the road and play with the opportunities you meet. Before you know, you will not be walking next to the road, but will be choosing and making your own path.

Your own path will not be easy and smooth, but it will be your own and it will be more fun. And if you walk your path wisely, it will be more healthy and fulfilling.

And don’t be surprised if you encounter others on your path. More than you would guess are not happy with where the main road is going. Some of them will have chosen their own way and sometimes both of your paths will intersect, creating chances to connect. Some of the people will have been inspired by your walk and have been following you.

Dare to walk your walk, even if it seems a bit silly at first. Dare to tread off the beaten path. Have the courage to play and explore and with some luck you will find other people doing the same.

And if it can help, you can join our little tribe, because after all, humans are social animals and joining a tribe can create the social safety and encouragement you need. Remember that an enriched environment is not only physical but social as well.

For those who like quotes, below are some nice ones:

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” – Gautama Buddha “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.” – Douglas Adams

“The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.” – Wendell Berry

No doubt Wendell Berry says some wise things, but our path does not go around the obstacles it meets. We play with the obstacles and get over them. Literally.

Stay tuned for part 4! And thanks for reading.



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