For some, Parkour Vision is a destiny, not a choice

A respected friend has a toddler who likes to climb. Of course she needs to keep him safe. This causes me to write the following reflection.

When our son (now almost 20 years old) was a toddler, he needed to climb. We tried to not say, “you need to come down.” We tried to simply find times, places, and ways for climbing to be safe. It was gut-wrenching for me, the mom, sometimes.

Our son’s need to climb is, and was, genetic. My husband grew up “rock hopping” in Billings Montana. My husband and son are coordinated, well-balanced, and sure-footed.

As a family, we always kept our eyes open, looking for places to do some rock hopping or a bit of recreational (not technical) climbing in the beautiful outdoors and even in developed settings.

When our son was in about ninth grade, he discovered the movement art of Parkour and it resonated with him in a way that was compelling. We are lucky to live in a time and place in which the people who lead the Parkour community approach it from the point of view of “Parkour Vision.” These young world-changing leaders practice and teach the Truth that Parkour causes you to move through any environment – physical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual – by seeing the obstacles and devising a path through, over, under, and around them. It is a fully-embodied metaphor for what we want our young people to learn and develop into adult-world survival skills.

Because Parkour had such a strong natural call for our son, he wanted to “make the case” to mom and dad in a way that would invite us to say “yes.” And so he did. He wrote an essay with the right balance of informality, combined with some information and purpose. We said yes.

That was more than four years ago. The Parkour Visions folks have developed and grown a non-profit organization for the purpose of teaching the movement art and life skills of Parkour at an indoor gym. Along the way, they have developed curricula, methods and inventions to share with others. Our son has not had time in the past couple years to train at the gym regularly, as much as he would like to, and as much as we would like it for him. The rhythm of a rigorous academic life makes it challenging to work all the physical distances between home and school and gym, while working the school commitment with integrity.

But the movement art of Parkour is part of his life and his vision and his approach to life. Parkour, and the Parkour Visions people, have been formational to the independent-thinking young man who inherited his father’s balance, sure-footedness, and so on.

When our son was a toddler, we arranged our lives to look for safe places, ways, and times to honor his intrinsic need to climb. When he had reached “the age of reason,” we, as a family, decided that in Ireland, we would not visit the Cliffs of Moher, because, honestly, there could be no assurance that our son would stay far enough back from that dangerous edge. We visited an amazing set of caves, instead – rock hopping of a different kind.

It is better for our son if mom does not always see the movement life that he is comfortable with. That dynamic tension between any young man’s abilities, and any mother’s caution, is simply the way of the world. It is not a matter of right and wrong. It is right for our son to develop his own good judgment about how to develop use his movement skills, and it is right for a mother to find it a bit gut-wrenching.


Dear Siren: Voluptuous Veronica Does Battle With Fat “Acceptance”

Dear Siren —

I haven’t had any problems with men or women pushing their opinions of traditional feminine beauty on me; my issues come from the other side: from the women of the Fat Acceptance or Fat is Beautiful movement. I 100% support their right to be happy with their bodies the way they are, but I get ticked off when they project onto me their assumption that any woman who wants to get fit — and yes, lose weight — is knuckling under to the oppression of the patriarchy! I don’t like carrying around the 70 or so extra pounds I have, nor the limitations it puts on my strength and endurance capacity. I want to lose the weight for my own satisfaction, not to please some man!

Voluptuous Veronica Continue reading “Dear Siren: Voluptuous Veronica Does Battle With Fat “Acceptance”” »

Siren Speaks: A Response to Invisible Man

So here we are, Invisible Man. It appears that your evil plan has worked – at least so far. You’ve drawn me out into the open for all to see, exactly as you intended. In the process you have also exposed the fundamental dilemma of the super-hero. As Green Hornet explained to Kato in the 2011 production bearing his name and starring Seth Rogen, “…the one insanely stupid thing every superhero has in common… [is that] everyone KNOWS they’re the hero. So all the bad guy has to do is kidnap the good guy and get him to do his bidding.” This much is undoubtedly true, and I should point out that you’ve at least (thus far) stopped short of abduction in your attempts to manipulate me, but my point remains. You’ve lured me into the spotlight, now will I behave? Roll-over and play dead? Tie myself to a chair and wait for some Y-Chromosome to save the day? Play by the rules, because “that’s what heroes do?” As Green Hornet went on to caution Kato, “… if the bad guy thought the good was also a bad guy…” or at a minimum, not always a good guy…

Stay tuned, my see-through super-villain. You may have friends in low places, but I am an unknown quantity.

In the interim, however, I will address what you’ve laid at my feet. You are partially correct, Invisible Man. The power of choice cannot be underestimated. My clients could, and should, choose to stay far, far away from gluten-free cupcakes, fast food, diet soda, and other nutritional kryptonite. They should choose to leave the laundry unfolded and get 7 hours of quality sleep every night. They should choose to tell you to stick a sock in it, and quit paying any attention to your conflicting whispers – scolding them one minute for getting out of shape and branding them selfish in the next when they take time away from you in order to get to the gym. They should choose instead to fall in love with their bodies and find their own motivation for keeping the only one they’re ever going to get in fine working order.

But the power of choice does not just apply to the fight against fat. It also applies to the fight against appearance politics and the “universal” standard of beauty. Ergo, I could choose to sit down and shut up, conditioned as I was by my mother that “if I didn’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all.” I could choose to remember that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. I could choose to ignore it every time a “helpful” Y-Chromosome offers to assist me with a barbell in the weight room. I could choose to look the other way when health club hiring managers tell me how desperate they are to hire someone “who looks like me” – never mind my credentials.

But I won’t.

I’m choosing to pick this fight, Invisible Man. Fat was never the feminist issue. Fitness is.

You’ve drawn me out… I hope you’re ready. I don’t typically run around quoting Objectivist philosophers turned Libertarian martyrs, but in the words of Ayn Rand, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me. The question is who’s going to stop me?”

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