It was a warm spring day in the desert. I stood under the high noon sun staring at a fence in front of me. My task was to run towards the fence, take off from a small ledge about 3 feet from it, and fly over the fence. It sounded easy, it looked not quite as easy as it sounded, and I discovered something extraordinarily frustrating.
Even though I had the skill and height to clear the fence which we developed through hours of jumping over picnic tables, jumping off the ledge, and jumping with my weight vest, with each attempt at it I would drop my feet onto it in mid-flight and push off. I was already over the fence and my feet would stop me. This continued through several sessions.
My coach Manu, who is not only a Cirque du Soleil acrobat but also one of the original parkours guys from France stood there watching me. I didn’t want to let him down and that frustration compounded the self frustration of this seemingly unconscious thing my legs were doing without my permission.
And then something curious happened.
I flew over the fence…and I flew over it again…and again…and then took a step backwards and hit the top.
And then I got it 12 times in a row. That fence had come to represent obstacles in my life. It had become a physical model of my own fears and insecurities and things I wanted to soar over in my life.
My point in sharing this story is not to suggest you should go out and jump over the closest fence but rather to invite you to look at the “fences” in your own life. What are physical models that represent your fears, doubts, insecurities, walls, obstacles etc? Can you use these physical methods to overcome the obstacles?
Obstacles are a natural part of our path. They provide us key opportunities to learn very valuable lessons. And yes, sometimes they are thrown in front of us by others’ free will and life itself. There are many spiritual practices around the world that deal with obstacle clearing. Indeed, one of my own core spiritual practices is an obstacle remover.
Since the physical, mental, and spiritual cannot be separated, it can be very useful to create physical models for mental and spiritual growth. These physical models then become a tangible representation of the non physical realms and since the two really are one and the same, they allow us to grow more quickly.
This is the basis of my martial warrior tradition.
The video below is one of the imperfect attempts. I kept it so you can see what I meant about second guessing myself and dropping my foot on the fence.