The Obstacle is the Path
Often we do not like what we encounter in daily life. We rather look forward to the weekend or the next vacation.
- This tedious task
- that health issue
- that rude person.
All of those are annoyances, pet-peeves at best and life changing disasters at worst. They have one thing in common. We don’t want to face them really.
We live our life in transit always looking out for the imaginary point in the future when we will be happy. When we’re
We overlook the actual place and time we are at. What would happen if we’d reversed that approach? Why not admit that the obstacle is the path?
The boring or the exciting life?
This is one thing you learn early on when you start training parkour: you realize that going the easiest way is not the most exciting option.
Even in case you are not looking for excitement just following the paved way others built for you is not always the best option.
Often facing obstacles head on and overcoming them by literally or metaphorically scaling walls and vaulting over barriers is the most rewarding choice.
Also one of the most amazing side-effects of actually not shunning away from challenges is that you develop self-confidence and resilience in the long run.
Imagine a movie or book that describes your own life. Would you want to read it when everything that happened would be just “living happily ever after”?
Would you want to read a book about someone who always chooses to go the easiest way and never faces any risks?
It’s not only boring. The fewer obstacles you actually face the weaker you become. Why would you develop strength when there is no need for it?
Why train regularly when you do not even have to go out or get up these days?
- You don’t have to cook as you can get the pizza delivered.
- You don’t have to meet people as you can socialize on social media.
- You can replace having sex with porn.
Studies show that a whole generation grows up like that. They do not even date anymore! When they do they probably use “online dating” tools.
The dark side of convenience
What’s easy and convenient makes fat and lazy. Additionally everything that even requires a bit of courage or stamina becomes overwhelming. No wonder
- panic attacks
are all commonplace these days. Young people who have been the most adventurous in the past are hiding inside and are scared of life.
The less you challenge yourself the more complacent you become. You do not act. Life happens to you. Fear becomes your daily companion.
When you never try anything really scary you get scared by things that aren’t scary.
When I was a kid I was scared of darkness. As a teenager and twen I made a deliberate effort to walk at parks at night.
Was it dangerous? I don’t think so. Was it scary? Yes it was a bit but I got used to it. Later on I would partly undress and enjoy the darkness during summer.
When I met other people in the darkness I realized that they were much more scared than I was. They went rigid and started to hurry when they saw me.
One day when I was on vacation with my parents I took a walk in a park. Two young men walked behind me and started talking as if they were up to something.
I realized that these guys tried to scare me. I think I was like 16 or so but instead of going faster I started walking slower and more consciously. I felt like an animal ready to leap.
As I was used to walk in the dark in a big city I wouldn’t let some tourists scare me in a holiday resort where the biggest crime was probably a shattered window.
With age comes experience?
Now that I’m older and look quite scary with dark hair and beard I try to wear bright and colorful clothes in the dark so that I’m visible and people, especially women don’t get scared.
When I train parkour outside – during daytime – I make sure not to scare people when I appear out of nowhere or jump in a completely unexpected place.
Now that I do scary looking things like jumping from bridges or running up walls for no apparent reason I seldom experience fear.
That might sound like a paradox. You might expect that I’m still scared of heights or hurting myself. Are you scared when crossing the street? No? Why?
When you get used to something – even something life-threatening like motorized traffic – you know you can assess the risk and deal with it accordingly.
A long life vs a deep life
It’s not the point to live longer but to live deeper. Most people are not really alive. They are just spending their time on Earth without really noticing.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t promote the “live hard, die young” myth here. Crippling yourself by alcohol, drugs, fast food, car accidents or parkour injuries is equally to be shunned.
I mostly get scared when encountering new situations. In places where I haven’t jumped or climbed before I am much less likely to perform well.
I have to climb that place over and over again to prove to myself that I can do it and that’s it’s not just luck. Self-confidence has to be built up like a muscle.
When you always play it safe and do not risk anything you also get scared easily because you don’t know what you are able to do. Your abilities waste away without practice.
When you live 120 years but the last 40 years you can barely move because you’re fat, sedentary or both is such a life really worth leading it?
Giving up the sedentary death-style
I have led a sedentary “life-style” for far too long. The rest of my life will be lived consciously moving. The modern society attempts to make you immovable all the time. They want you to sit
- in school
- at work
- in cars
or public transport. You sit crammed in tiny seats on a plane. You were not designed to be sitting.
The only sitting that makes sense is sitting meditation. I practice Zen mediation like monks in Asia do for example.
Live now and be present. Whenever you feel strain from sitting get up and move. Ideally don’t sit down in the first place. You can even meet with people while walking.
My personal path was about finding out about the huge impact sitting all day has. I was
- in chronic pain.
Now I train parkour so that some people think I’m crazy or suicidal. Yet the every day insanity I witnessed first hand was the real problem. I needed very long to realize this.
When you sit all day you kill yourself slowly but continuously. Only regular movement and exercise (both of them) can prevent chronic health problems and premature aging.
Being sedentary is not a life-style it’s a type of death you subject yourself to.
It’s a slow excruciating agony you will suffer from for decades unless you die of an “accident” due to your weakness.
Thus embrace the every day challenges. Do not sit still. Move and explore both literally and metaphorically. I’m still trying to learn this but the obstacle is the path.