One thought ahead. Two sentences behind.

Up High Down Low Good Flow: Part Five


Although traceurs, freerunners and mudders have different forms of expression, their goal is the same:  to overcome any obstacle in their path.  The practitioners in the above video haven an entirely different view.  For them overcoming an obstacle isn’t the objective.  Instead they look to incorporate the obstacle into their routine.  And how do they do that?  Near as I can tell, it involves continual, graceful movement without pause, halt or hitch.  Here’s the definition posted below their YouTube video:

flow = the act of smoothly linking movements together through fluid transition

This is a slightly different definition than the one described by Michaly Csikszentmihaly in Part One and yet in the end no matter who we are, what do we all strive for?  I think we all reach for what is beyond our grasp and solely inhabited by the gods.  That is why traceurs leap from building to building; freerunners try to fit in one more twist or turn and mudders keep pulling themselves out of the slog.  We all want to transcend our day-to-day and feel what it’s like to be truly free.  Rarely, are we able to achieve this.  And if we do, it’s ever so brief.

  I have noticed traceurs and freerunners are pretty much teenagers going into their twenties, while mudders appear to be mostly people in their thirties, maybe forties.  What separates the two groups besides age?  One word – gravity.

Mudders accept the fact they are no longer going to fly through the air and embrace their circumstance with a certain amount of good will, grit and humor.  Freerunners and traceurs still have enough spring in their step to make fantastic leaps that were at one time the sole domain of predatory animals.  It appears the practitioners of constant flow are not so much concerned about accepting or fighting gravity as working seamlessly with it.

I know from personal experience that making things look seamless takes a lot of hard work.  There is a scene in the above video (2:17) where a teenager runs towards a half submerged truck tire and launches into a back-flip.  Right away it looks like the teenager is going to land on his head.  There is absolutely no way he is going to land on his feet.  Instead, he plants with his knees and spins out of the frame before I even knew what happened.

flow = to create constant fluid movement from beginning to end

This teenager could have been easily been hauled off to the hospital, but he took what life gave him and made it look cool.

Constant flow seems more like performance art than sport.  There are aspects of break dancing in the video, but instead of a sheet of cardboard, the practitioners use whatever is in their urban environment whether pipelines, scaffolding, displays of modern art or children’s playground equipment.

Most of the practitioners in the video are pretty good.  Some even achieve moments of flow.  But there is one who elevates to another plane.  It is the pajama wearing kid at sunset swinging his body on a metal railing in the middle of what looks like a concrete park.

Life is up and down.  One thing it is not is constant.  Knowing this, there is a big part of me that seeks equilibrium.  I think that is why I like taking long walks on an empty golf course and driving down a long country road in a stolen vehicle. I’m not a big fan of obstacles.  Maybe I should be.  Maybe I should address them more like the pajama wearing kid in the public park, where a railing isn’t so much a thing to go around or under or over but an instrument to incorporate.

I wonder how many hours the pajama kid worked on his routine before the camera rolled?  And what did the camera capture?  I find it hard to describe.  To some it’s just a kid goofing around on a time-wasting activity.  To me there are moments where his street performance takes on shades of physical poetry.  How rare to be inside a routine so thoroughly you actually become it like an eagle riding an afternoon breeze.

flow = going from point A to point B with nothing between.

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