The call of the TV tower

The call of the TV tower

The meeting

The silent fine air was rushing through my hair as I stared out of the window that was kept slightly open. I raise my eyes from my piece of paper, throwing the pen on the table. A smell of hot, dense and sticky summer night came through that small aperture. “It’s one of those nights…” I think as I stand up.

A shiver from the center of the back irradiates into my arms and legs. There was so much energy in the air.

I rolled back the ears to let my awareness travel through the neighborhood, scanning road after road any anomaly among the quiet dark allies. An alarm, dogs barking and few cars passing by were playing the nocturnal symphony.

My hand turns the window’s handle to open it wide as my thoughts travel back to the list of places I want to explore in town, left on my desk. Many places had been ticked off in the recent month to join the secret map I had been building. Many others were constantly being added, many were still in the process of being developed.

At the top right of the page, I had this big highlighted line: Get on top of the TV tower.

From the moment my eyes touch those letters I knew I had no more than three seconds to pick a side. 1… 2…

…right! Let’s do it.

My hand goes down the pocket to reach my phone: “Guys is it THE night? We go to the top of the tower. Ready or not, meet me outside the building in exactly 30 mins from now.” I type, lightning fast while wearing pitch black clothes and leaving my chalk bag filled with all my belongings bouncing on my bed.

When my phone started blinking with some confirmations and some declines, pulsating of a yellow light, I was already leaving as a silent shadow, to dive into the fluid city.

Fast steps towards my goal while I was embodying the grey-man feeling: the one that attracts no attention, walks steadily, minds his own business and avoids eye contact to not transpire urgency.
As I arrived at the designated spot for the exploration I saw a hand, shaking from inside a bush. “Pssst” it goes. Hop, I recognized R.’s big hand.

I show the ok sign with my left hand and I wrapped my right one on the vertical bar of the high gate. “C-o-m-i-n-g”, I said soundless and exaggerating every letter to facilitate lips reading.
I jumped over the high gate, landing like snow onto the hard ground. Then, I sprinted towards the green leaves where my pal was hiding.

“Hey, my friend, nice to see you!” I said, as our hands tightened around our forearms.
“So, it’s just going to be me and you right?”
“Right, apparently the others turned down the glorious mission” he continued.
“They don’t know what they are missing”

“Definitely, what else could you be wanting to do on such a perfect moment, ah!”

We talked briefly, defining the plan to reach the top of the tower: risks and dangers, points of entrance/exit and emergency lanes. I took from my pocket the printed map of the area and I placed it on the ground. Everything was silent, besides the red marker squeaking few lines and letters on the half-wrinkled paper.
The plan was to avoid security on the first two small houses to then dash to the tower running in a large open space, highly illuminated but not guarded by cameras. From there, we would have had to climb a solid orange pipe and then the outside of an emergency ladder to the top. More or less…
“Good luck brother! I’ll go first, you follow. Then we switch, cool? We are going to use the classic signaling with the headlight”. Butterflies in the stomach and slightly sweaty hands were sealing our determinate complicity for the start of the mission.

“Agreed, let’s begin”.

A Nocturnal Raid

After a quick check of the surroundings, I got out of the bushes rapidly moving to the first route. I started advancing slowly in the high fresh grass. I could see very little, so I had to trust the map I had created inside my brain.

After five minutes I got to the end of the first zone and I squeezed my body against the concrete walls of the first house. I peeked through the first window: the security guy was watching into a monitor; I checked the monitor; a movie was running.. a Japanese talk show.

“This is great”. I rip out a small piece of paper from the map and I write: “reality is better than fiction” and I stuck it in the back of the windows’ shutter. Couldn’t help but crack a smile imagining the future reaction.

Back on track, I moved quickly my stare towards R, removing my headlamp that was secured to my wrist and flashed three times in his direction. Few seconds after that, I could see the grass moving slightly in the far distance.

As I waited in absolute stillness, I decided to squat down while calming the breathing and listen more carefully.

“All good so far, the guy in here is watching a show. Bless Italian security”. I whispered when my friend popped out of the grass and moved by my side.
“Yes, what is he watching?” he asks.
“It’s some Japanese channel, I guess he might also be quite tired of this soul-less job”.
I said, pointing at my small instructional note.

We both chuckled.

“Ok R, you go ahead now” he nods as he started crawling under the long series of windows to travel all the way to the second small house.

I saw the three flashes knowing that they might have meant one thing and one thing only: it’s my turn.
I started crawling slow and steady like a feline pointing the pray. My whole spine was still with the head pointing forward. The rest of my body was turning, twisting, folding and unfolding to allow myself to glide through space.

I was trying to turn on the volume of the surrounding by pulling the ears back and trying to absorb more light from the eyes by force-opening them.

Recalling those moments, I must admit I might have looked like a crazy scientist in the middle of an undoubtedly interesting and wrong experiment.

The feel of concrete passing under my palms was giving me a familiar taste as I was moving forward in the unknown. The summer breeze coming from a green-river close by was filling my lungs. The surreal silence highlighted every little stone as they were rolling under the thick rubber of my shoes.

“Softer Marcello, softer” I was repeating to myself as a constant mantra.

I exhaled “R. we are almost there, nobody saw me, I am quite sure,” I said to his ears as I got there. We both looked through the retractable curtains of the second control house. The security guy was actually looking through the cameras. Uff, good, nothing better than a predictable problem. We grinned knowing that if he kept doing his job, he wouldn’t have had a chance of seeing us sprint through the open space to get to the designated dark side of the tower.

We walked close to the wall and crawled again underneath the windows. The low yellow light was filtering on top of us from the room, projecting to less than 1 meter from us some black and white shapes on the floor.

Resisting the temptation to raise the hands to draw some Chinese shadows we moved on to proceed over the two corners of the house to face our destination. Every motion was accurately cooked, the awareness was the deepest I had ever felt in my life. Nothing, not even the slightest movement was left to chance.

As we reached the opposite side of the small building we finally saw it.
The tower was standing right in front of us, less than 50 meters away, showing all its antennas as the feathers of a big peacock.

How many people saw that place from the outside, but how few saw its the top? Who knows what a view of the city I might get while being up there. Workers, technicians, managers, engineers, some cleaning people – those might be the lucky ones that have been up there. The bad news is I have none of those roles, the good news is that I am going to go there anyway.

“Almost there, come on, let’s find out how’s the view from up there…” I remember thinking between me and myself. I rubbed the bottom of my sleeve on my forehead to prevent the sweat from dripping into my eyes. We both agreed to run together at a count of 10 towards the target.

10… I was checking the shoes to make sure they were still well tied

9… 8… I passed my hands under my shoes to ensure an enhanced grip

7… 6…

5… 4… I look at the ground and I focus on a small hiding spot behind the lights of the tower

3… The body is tensed like a harrow about to be fired from a bow.

2…

…*SQUEAKK!*

A security car suddenly rushed inside the open space from the streets. It was moving at full speed in our direction with the lights completely turned off. The sound of the tiers squealing sounded like the shout of an animal of the wild, mortally wounded.

Mine and R.’s hearts jumped to our throats and our pupils got wider: “What the hell was that??” R. shouted as we were jumping behind an electricity box without hesitation.

“Shhh… They might not be here for us” I suggested.

“You think so? If this is true, that was extremely good timing for them” R. replicated “so what do we do?”

“We wait…” I responded.

“Hey Giovanni, how did you like my need for speed entrance?” Exclaimed a girl coming out of the vehicle few meters from us “Hahaha… ciao Cristina, nice to see you, yes loved it” the man answered while his hand was still on the handle of the door, just opened, greeting his colleague.

As this was happening, we were both still like two hamsters in a cage waiting for their fate: ready to fly at any moment. The two kept talking and joking loudly while moving toward the center of the wide area, away from us. I tried to silence my breathing to a bare minimum.

“Abort. Get. Out R.” telegraphically whispering few keywords waiting for the right window to sneak out. “Blow on my face” he replies, to my surprise.

R.’s eyes started to close slightly and the muscles of his face began to cramp. Damn, he is about to sneeze, I remember thinking as I was letting a sharp flux of air get out of my lips. I stared at him for what seemed an eternity to see his eyes reopen as he regained control of his own bridles. A bright relief flushed our chests. Our eyes crossed in complicity and we both nodded. “Go, go!”.

The two guards were still in the middle of the wide area, talking now closer to the tower – they still had no idea they were silently observed by us. We waited with discipline until they turned their backs at us. As it happened, we used their short window of blindness to allow us to rush towards the series of trees on the side of the site.

After a 3-minute cautious walk in this little forest, we got to a mossy and wet wall leading to our new improvised exit. I grounded myself, supporting my weight with my legs in a high horse stance and placing my hands on the wall for improved balance.

R. started to climb on top of me, using my thighs and shoulders as if they were steps of an organic ladder.

“Marc, I still can’t reach it, I need just a bit more!” he said, with trembling muscles and a voice was broken by fatigue, while standing on the tip of his toes.

“Damn…mmm…R. step on my head, quick, just do it!” I answer tensing the muscles of my neck and trying to become of steel.

After a few seconds of confused noises above me, I felt my companion get lighter and lighter until his weight disappeared entirely: he managed to grab the edge of the wall, I realized with relief.
I stepped back to look at him as he was remaining in a hanging position to allow me to use his body like a rope to get to the top. I took a short run-up, to get just as much speed as needed to reach his legs.

I placed three fast strides on the ground and one step on the wall until I got to the point where gravity and my upward forces canceled themselves: catch! I fastened my hands around my partner’s ankles.

I climbed on top of him until my hands came into contact with the edge of the high wall.
We both climbed up and down on the other side. We jumped off from a hang securing our arrival with a roll, right after having touched our feet on that uneven terrain, made of leaves, green wet grass, and humid earth.

We both got up and started sprinting out of the forest towards a gravel road. We were tasting the beauty of the sound of the little stones as they were blasting away as our fast steps kicked them. What a feeling to perceive the coordinated motion of two souls in the still darkness, in agreement of intent.

While running, we started laughing all the tension out of the body: “We were so close, what the hell was that car!” Shouts R. as the wind shouts back at our faces. “So close, we have been so unlucky” I confirm.

We keep running slowing down the pace slightly, thinking about our next steps, and realizing that the mission was probably over for the night.

“We can’t quit” R. resumed with a heavy resolution in his brown eyes.

“What’s in your mind?” I answered, rapidly scanning our options.
“We might try to sneak in from the back, right?”.

“Yeah, if there wasn’t a river and a barbed wired fence” I reply.

“Marc, what do you do with an impossible problem?” He giggled like a fox.

“I solve it with an impossible answer, ok, so what, we swim through?”

He answers with a pretty self-explanatory smile all the way up to his ears.

“It’s a ridiculously bad idea …I think I like it, we can’t just quit now”.

“Let’s dive”.

The sidetrack

We were circumnavigating the objective this time, hiding in the woods to get closer to the back side of the tower without being seen.

R. started to lead, climbing a seven meters old wall made of bricks. “stay careful, they come out of the wall easily” he warns while his right grip was crumbling into dust.

Following the advice, I started the ascend pinching the first brick with care – it came out of the wall: “ok, now that’s a good start”. I laughed to myself and to the horrible climb ahead, to lighten the mood.

There was such an unnatural silence there that in the far distance we could still hear the laughs of the two security guards we left on the other side of the river. At the end of the day, it might have been just 100 meters as the crow flies to reach them.

One hand after one scratch and one foot after one glance we both reached the top. Keeping at least three solid anchor points at all times was our only way to ensure safety.
“Next time we take a ladder with us ok?” R. told me, still panting, with red fingertips and covered in sweat.

“Ok, sure, you put it in your pocket, and we take it out whenever needed – you better wear really long pants” – I answered while looking at the river. I could see it clearly from there, with its green rushing water and its strong smell of algae, cattails, and reeds.
“Wait, what is that?” – I said, pointing at what looked like a large pipe crossing the river – “if it crosses, we can cross, I am sure we can balance on it”.

“Please, tell me we can avoid swimming, I would balance on Satan’s trident rather than dipping in that water” stated my companion, slightly closing his eyes to acquire better focus.
“It looks like it can hold our weight, I wonder why we never saw it before” – he continued, just before answering to his own question “Oh, right, probably because we never came all the way up onto this wall”.

I nodded, and we started walking in the direction of the pipeline, realising that the balance was actually possible.

“Let’s go down from this pole, so we don’t have to climb and then let’s cross. We can toss a coin to see who goes first ok?” I suggested.
“Sure, if we had a coin it would be a good move”. Said R. turning his empty pockets upside down.
“Hahaha… right, I go ok, no problem, let me open this road” – I exclaimed rushing towards our improvised bridge. *Don’t be slippery… Don’t be slippery… Don’t be slippery…* I was repeating to myself passing a hand under the shoes, to dry them.

Almost there, I took a longer stride with the weight still on the back leg to touch the new surface …it grips: “R. it can be done” – I shouted without the voice – “see you on the other side”.

One step after the other, I was moving forward on top of the black pipe, crossing the river.
The more I was gaining ground towards the centre, the more I could sense the surface I was standing on shake – I had to slow down. The big cylinder was anchored at both ends but lose in between.

I kept moving forward, playing the balancing game in the same way as I would do during a chess game. One breath cycle, one reflection, one move and one reaction. Constantly switching attention.

As I got to the other shore, I took out my flashlight and signalled the position to my partner.
Done so, I let myself fall into a full squat position, head lose. The back of my arms on the grass covered in dew, feeling my spine stretch. What a ride so far.

I check my watch: 02.45 am. Ok, time is running quickly; no wonders fatigue was crawling upon me.
Just the time to shake my head and I was back aligned to the mission with all my energies: supporting my companion with a focused stare, ready to help in any way if needed. I saw him crawl all the way across without hesitation.

“Apparently you were right, this thing could hold our weights,” said R., jumping off the pipe and ending up close to me.

“Yeah, pretty solid right? We must thank some engineer out there”. I answered, bowing to the person who built our way in and then continued: “Ok, we need to get over that fence – while pointing at an old steel barrier – to get behind the tower. Cameras state: only one, small range to the left and free space to the right. Let’s do this”.

We both glided sideways in the grass like a cloud in the fog, avoiding the camera range and overcoming the fence. We proceeded to the dark side of the tower, finally touching that big block of concrete. Checking both sides, we made sure that the security guards had gone back into the small house. The car was still left in front of it with the front door open, but with the engine turned off. Good, the moment had come, it was time to get to the top.

The top of the TV Tower

Sticking to the original plan, I started climbing the thick yellow pipe, whispering to my companion to follow me from as close as possible. We had to be quick since, for some brief moments, we would have been wholly exposed: two moving black stains on a white background. We climbed all the way up to the first 7 meters.

We used grids, gas tubes and small holes in the wall that was there for who knows why. Reached the end of the first part of the climb, we stopped to regain our strength and focus back. We found ourselves surrounded by antennas of all kinds, in a completely dark spot isolated from any sight. We could see the top, closer than ever, almost calling out our names. Climbing the tubular protection on a wall ladder appeared to be the perfect solution to finish the ascent and reach the top.

However, the bottom of it was closed with a trapdoor, and a circular two-meter grid prevented anyone to climb from the outside.

“Damn, the door here looks alarmed and we can’t climb the antennas.

This structure – said R. while making the grid shake with the touch of an index – looks weak and cannot definitely hold our weight. Going back is not an option at this point. So, what do we do?”
We continued our conversation, trying to imagine all the possible solutions to that almost uncrackable riddle. We were getting pretty discouraged, when I pushed slightly on the base of the trapdoor just by chance, after leaning on it.

To my surprise, the horizontal metal gate opened like the blade of a knife.

I look at R., laughing “It was open! Why didn’t we try to push it before?”

“Ok, to you the honour” I went on “lead the way to the top”.

I could feel the cold of the metal bars refrigerating my hot wet fatigued skin. Rung after rung, the feeling of a deep curiosity was detonating in me. What could possibly exist at the end of the ladder? R. opened the last gate, and I saw him disappearing beyond the edge of the roof.

Not a single word. I want to see it with my own eyes!” I shouted against the wind, that was blowing stronger now between the antennas.

My arms pushed open the last trapdoor, and I climbed up onto the top of the TV tower. A flat, smooth ground completely surrounded with an iron fence was welcoming the visitors.
The energy was so electrifying that it was giving us both goosebumps (I reckon it might have been something to do with the radio/TV receivers, but whatever…).

Done. After so many years of thinking about getting up here, there was another line to be drawn on that checklist. The TV tower had been conquered. I hugged my friend, thankful for his support.
I switched my eyes’ focus from the close surroundings to the area beyond it. The city was awaiting my sight.

Stripes of lights were painting the ground like an organised pulsating web; all the way to the horizon of the events.

The honking of the cars, the clanging of the antennas moving with the breeze and the few birds that dared to fly that high, were playing a similar symphony to the one I was listening from my room, a few hours before.

The smell of this dense adventure was suggesting to my nose it was a good choice not to say no to this quest.

“All those people down there, running on their treadmills, they must have no idea of what they are missing” – I whispered.

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Approaching physicality: humans need a reset

Approaching physicality: humans need a reset

Approaching contemporary physicality: the curse of choice

It was 2.4 million years ago. The first Homo Habilis, with his 600 cm3 brain was fighting hard to stay alive. Cracking shells, running through forests, fighting fierce beasts and trying to build necessary tools for survival. Life was tough, and every piece of food was a synonym of survival and development. Finding a small good root meant to be able to breathe a few more hours. A bush full of berries was a gold mine. In that world “more” was better.

Evolution did its course.

It’s 2018. The modern Homo Sapiens (aka “wise man”, following Linnaeus Taxonomy), with a brain twice the size of its ancestors, is rarely fighting to stay alive at all. Going to the supermarket with the car, sitting on a desk, sitting in the tube to go to work, winning arguments through communication and building complex tools through mathematical models.
Life got easier, and food became a synonym of sociality and self-love, rather than a strict necessity.

Obviously, this new-found comfort came with a new-found need: moderation.

However, being the essence of humans similar to the one of fire, a problem appeared. Try to give to a spark a piece of paper, it will reduce it to ashes in no time.

Offer it a book: it will take it, no questions asked about what was written on it.

Give to the flames a table, it will eat the house.

Give to the flames a tree, it will eat the forest.

The “more is better” slogan (very dear to our Homo Habilis) simply stopped working. Because “more” changed meaning. Where before it meant “enough to keep the tribe alive”; it is now used as “until no more food fits the stomach”.

Calories changed form, and from being something humans had to look for, they became something that humans wanted to burn off due to consistent abuse. The power of choice became a curse for life.

When Moderation, the daughter of Discipline, gets murdered by Gluttony, the son of Comfort, Calories become a bitter enemy.

Food was a friend, it became an enemy.

But what a funny thing to have as an opponent. Right? It’s almost …a paradox. However, people decided it’s like this, and started the war.

The Reset

This strife took the form of the fitness and the wellness industry. Calories needed to be burned, and those muscles had to be hammered. People flew into gyms to make sure they could join in the “ultimate annihilation routine” or try the “glute killa machine” (I didn’t try, but I am sure that if you try to Google a combination of any of these words you get at least 300k results of stuff someone posted online).

The body became something to wear, in the same way as we do with the latest piece of clothing from
Dorgia&Babbana, not something that is in all is in quintessence, us.

It is an element that is present in our lives sometimes, and that is more of an issue than a blessing. Think about it:

– It can break, like a car and we need to take it to the mechanic to blindly fix it (traditional physiotherapy).

– It needs to be given to a coach 2 times per week so that some muscles can be packed on it (traditional fitness training).

– If you don’t take enough care, it can wear off, and it’s not nice to show it at the beach.

– It is a weight to transport around. It is so annoying to carry it to work, make it eat, drink, go to the toilet.

…This body is a prison, and you can’t get rid of it!

Seriously, what is going on?

This separation between our thoughts, emotions, and physicality is leading to a lack of interaction and to solitude. It is a regression from all point of views.

Humans are complex beings, made up of a wide array of phenomena, that should be considered as a whole. Categorising, even if interesting, doesn’t reflect reality, but just a useful mean to orient ourselves into everyday activities. Just to make an example:

Meredith on the 5th of November needs to wake up early and go to work, come back to her husband, daughter and two sons to have lunch and chat together. After that she goes training, she keeps up the preparation for a theatrical performance, before going out for dinner with her family. Finally, she goes to take care of her old parents before putting the younger daughter to bed.

In theory, all these things are separated because they have different names, they respond to different needs, they even take place in different spaces.

“For every activity, I have my specific willpower, she thinks. I am a mother first, then I am a good employee, then I am a focused trainee, then I am a skillful actress. I am able to keep everything under control, no problem”.

Still, one day she is hit with a nervous breakdown.

How do you think the problem will be addressed? Will, the psychologist, look at the single activity, or the issue will be treated as a whole?

Thinking in labels and in separation doesn’t do justice to where evolution brought us.

A body is us at all times. And we are in deep need of reconnection with it.

As a species we need to press that small button that was so dear to all old devices: RESET.

We require a deep returning for understanding. What is food for? What is money for? What does it mean to be a person? What do I want to dedicate my life to? How do I interact with the place I live in? Why is work something I can’t wait to stop doing?

And similarly, the focus should be placed on how to approach our physicality.

Jane Fonda was the queen of fitness. Eugen Sandow was the king of muscles. Both useful in the process of moving forward in humans’ development. Yet, staying stuck in those paradigms in 2018 is like driving an old broken and polluting FIAT 500 thinking it is the last model of car produced on earth.

We need a more significant scope like the one Ido Portal is promoting, a crusade that I fully support, share and am part of. A movement approach that can integrate people’s interaction, health, body knowledge, artistic research, scientific knowledge.

Stop thinking about burning calories and hammering the muscles, go back into thinking about how to invest energies and use a body.

Until next week,
Marcello.

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Antidotes to contemporary venoms

Antidotes to contemporary venoms

Antidotes to contemporary venoms. 

Following on from last week article:a boxed life

*

Venoms: Detachment and laziness.
Antidotes: Awareness and enthusiasm.

Have you have tried to take a laser pointer and make a cat follow it? Pay attention here.

The awareness of the cat arises. All muscles create a disciplined tension. The fur slightly raises as a physical response to a flush of catecholamines poured into the system.
The claws come out slightly to allow a better anchoring to the ground. The beast lowers the stance, the back legs get ready to fire. The head and the tail create a tensed line that points directly to the red dot. The eyes fixate the objective while the pupils get wider to attract more light. Absolute discipline, control, attention appear under the form of deep, complete immobility.

Right before the creature jumps into action, turn the laser pointer off (yes, the cat will be confused, and a bit pissed, but don’t worry about that, it’s for the sake of science).

Now. Take out eight laser pointers and repeat the same experiment as before. Observe the feline. What happens?

The awareness of the cat arises. All muscles create a disciplined tension. The eyes will follow an objective for few seconds and then …it will start licking its fur. It will let all red lights go, too many targets, it will lose interest. This will happen 99 times out of 100 tries.

You think humans work differently?

Try it out. Turn on the news on TV (if you still have one in 2018), try to engage in a conversation while you check a new article as you decide on a new pair of shoes and listen to a new single from your favourite artist. Good luck with that.

It’s impossible, or worst we can make it possible, but what happens to that person’s engagement?

The conversation won’t be meaningful.
The reflections on the piece of writing will be weak.
The judgment on the new pair of shoes will be shallow.
The song will become background noise.

You will end up being superficially entertained rather than actively involved, ending up losing enthusiastic interest towards all the beautiful details of life.
This will fast enough bring you to disengagement in presence. And this disengagement and scattered attention will bring you to laziness in the acts, tiredness to live life.

Stay full on when you do things, value every moment. Be the cat following a single prey.

When going to practice, do not close yourself into a gym watching a TV while talking gossip with the Tuesday’s stranger and about the bad day you had at work. That’s the fastest way to disconnect with your physicality forever.

Instead, find a community and a teacher you trust, get out there, do the work, engage in one project at a time, know what you are focusing on, value every activity you do, take risks, beware the “scattered attention state”, act before the long crouched and slimy fingers of procrastination wrap around your arms.

Do this and trust me, laziness, depression, disengagement will never be an issue ever again – you just won’t have time for those.

Venoms: Conformism and local life.
Antidotes: Courage and travels.

– “Ah, I wish I was young enough to do it…” – 37 years old man, coming out of the supermarket, without stopping.
– “Ohh interesting, is it some form of Circus the one you do?” – a couple in their twenties, walking with an umbrella under the snow.
– “What is it that you are doing?” – 25 years old girl, stopping by
– “Can you please do it again?” – a smiling old man, raising his eyes from a morning newspaper reading session.
– “Wow, I was also doing it when I was a kid” – a mass of random people passing by while shopping.
– “You must be some kind of superhero? / Are you some sort of thief? / Are you Spiderman?” – young kids.

I have engaged in millions of conversations when training everywhere, at any time per night and per day, with any weather condition. And I can tell you one thing: curiosity is powerful.

Everybody has it. You might be here reading these lines for the exact same reasons.

So, why in the name of Zeus and his lightings most people do not engage in diverse, new and exciting activities? Let me tell you what happens.

Well, the answer is that a certain amount of energy is needed to step in the unknown. I realise it is a big leap for many. You need to get out of your shell. You need to shake your beliefs, open up to failure, to change, to invest time that doesn’t come back, confront your stability. It’s easier to fall into conformism.

However, if you manage to break through, you will suddenly find yourself fluctuating in an unknown matrix.

The unknown will bring fear. Fear will bring a challenge. Challenge will bring change. The change will bring development and growth, two attributes that directly define what means to live a life.

By opposite, not engaging in the unknown it means to slowly die. The slowest and most miserable death; you know why? Because on your last breath you will realise the cage you have lived into. And I say this with full knowledge of the facts, having been in a situation where this happened. I see young people get old, and old people stay young until they exhale their last breath. “I wish I lived my life differently”. You do not want this to happen to you.

Stay hungry and fascinated, repel what everyone tells you to do, follow your inner voice, dive into new worlds, smile at those confused looks from people, at their angry words – their eyes and their words always hide the question: “can I join in?”. Well, good news, you can.

A great way to start is to travel. Go look for what is interesting. Go where the gold is. Do not be satisfied with your neighborhood, follow signs and directions. Do everything you need to do, save and invest. Go to the source of your interest. Never, trust someone who doesn’t travel; it’s one of the 6 markers I look when making up my mind about someone.

Venom: De-responsibility and poor visualisation
Antidotes: Accountability and creativity.

A pigeon takes a big crap on your shirt. Whose fault is it? The pigeon or yours?

The pigeon!” most people would say without a doubt.

No, it was your fault. You were walking without paying enough attention”. I would argue.

Exaggeration? Maybe. But which one of the two argumentative standpoints is more productive? I would say, the second one.
Because it entails taking responsibility for any action. Even those who are not directly dependent on ourselves. It will just create a good habit: the act of taking responsibility.

Take responsibility for all that you do – you will cherish your successes and suffer your mistakes. And overall, you’ll live more truly.

Drop all excuses as simple as that. Be accountable for all you do. Even religion itself is a form of de-responsibility in many cases.

Something incredible occurs: humans land on the moon. What a grand thing, so unbelievable. It must be a miracle; a god must have done it.

Something terrible happens: the earth becomes inhabitable due to climate change. What a terrible day, so sad. It must be a punishment; a god must be behind it.

No. It’s on us. It’s on me. It’s on you. Like a drop in the sea, everyone does its part in the big scheme of things.

And as a direct corollary taking responsibility for our actions will make us realise, we must reduce our impact to stay sustainable.

Drop the use of plastic, recycle when you can, do not pollute, do not over-consume, do not produce the useless. But how do we do it? Creativity and discipline folks. It’s again there.

And in a movement practice?

It’s the same. Stay sustainable, use what is there already (1), do not build for the sake of building, use space as it is, it is enough. It’s hard, but we are smart creatures.

See you next week,
Marcello.

*

(1). Small digression: In the process of using public spaces you will encounter many problems. Some of those solvable, others profoundly rooted in the society you are immersed in.

When using them, take into consideration the damage you might do to the elements you are using, who is around you and how they perceive you, the possibility of you getting hurt there, the responsibility of city councils, the effect of your movement practice on the people around you.

You will have a chance to make people more aware of what you are doing or to contribute to a detachment between practitioners and bystanders. Every time you step outside you gain much power, and from great power, comes great …well you all know how this end.

From those operating from the top (architects, politicians etc.) it is needed to build robust elements that can sustain impacts and usage, schedule renovation taking into consideration that the material will be allotted to diverse use, an architecture that will call for involvement and an educational system that explains and promotes movement creativity and active physicality.

Won’t it be too costly? Well, considering the enormous amount of money that would be saved from the health care system if people moved more and took care of themselves, not really.

Isn’t it utopic? Maybe; but I love utopias. Many times, they become a reality, especially when deadlines are set.

Anyway, let’s look at the other side.

From those operating from the bottom (the practitioners) here are some rules to practice using any space:

– take care of everything (you break? You fix).
– talk and create a dialogue with those who are scared or angry because of your behaviour (engage with understanding and calmness).
– know the rules and regulations of the country you are in and if you break them take responsibility for your actions.
– Be respectful at all times and everyone will respect you.

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A boxed life – obstacles to an active physical existence

A boxed life – obstacles to an active physical existence

A boxed life

Andrea’s routine: it’s 07.00. Puts off the alarm with a sloppy arm. Time to wake up. She carries herself to the toilet with half-closed eyes before looking at her phone: 30 minutes of passive staring at things she doesn’t really care about before the mechanism of choice triggers in her.

It’s 07.30 when she stands up from the toilet placing her free arm on her legs, dead, out of the long immobility. She drinks a coffee and brushes her teeth before getting out of the apartment.

After having boringly walked her heavy body towards the elevator, she repeated the same number of grey steps to reach her car. She drove to work, hoping that the hands of her clock will move faster than yesterday.
For lunch: same place every day, eating something that she knows it’s unhealthy, but she’ll fix it next week. Then, back to work until 5 pm.

Finally free? …mmmh…No.

It’s Tuesday, one of the two days in which she has the opportunity to go to the gym. Damn. Well, it is what it is, let’s do this other fatigue, she thinks, anyway my life is fatigue and suffering.

She briefly touches the soil of her house to take everything she needs to go to the gym. Once Andrea gets there she changes into the newest Naiky sporting wear and proceeds into the main hall just saying a brief hello to the bored guy at the reception. She picks her schedule and jumps on top of the treadmill. Damn, 20 minutes of running, and she is not even seeing too much progress, well, she’ll think about this next week, now she is definitely too stressed to take care of it. Fortunately, on the big screens, there’s the newest episode of Fell Chicken. Thanks Gordolo RamSemen for that, now this will make a big difference.

She gets off the roulading apparatus, she pulls and pushes a couple of machines, feels a bit of pump in the glutes and she is off. After a quick shower she is wondering what to do, so she remembers of Alina’s invitation to drink something in the center of the city. Why not, she goes and drinks a couple of Mojitos to then smoke a cigarette with friends. I mean she doesn’t really like it, but what else can she do, everyone around her does it – poor girl.

Done so, she goes back home, has a quick takeaway dinner to then watch a movie. It’s 01.30 when she enters her bed. Damn it’s late. It’s not before the clock touches the 02.00 than her eyes shut.

Well, what was the point of this?

Andrea has a really bad disease; she has what I call a “boxed life”. In pills, a life that became completely detached from development and discovery; a life in which you know exactly what tomorrow will bring. The routine that she has built up during the years is so strong that she can easily act like a robot and let her shallow-self live it for her.
She doesn’t need to solve many problems as they are already being solved by the strategy she laid out for herself:

– Her job? Her boss will take care of it, she only needs to keep her head down and do exactly what is commanded.
– Her interests? The TV will take care of it.
– Her scope? Her parents said she must become a secretary and that is what happened.
– Her friends? They keep changing, they are the ones that come and go from place to place.

The same goes with her body development. Her trainer will take care of it. Right?

I deeply disagree with this behavior, and I believe this is the root of a profound long-term depression.

It could be worst for sure, she could also have a boyfriend/girlfriend she doesn’t want to stay with. Fortunately, she did not get to that stage, YET.

Responsibility is out of the door, she doesn’t live her own life. Successes and failures are on someone else’s head. The level of risks she takes is critically low, and the chaos and unknown she faces are non-existent.

She is a spectator, not a participant for her OWN life.

Her capacity to then act, when needed, disappears like a bubble of soap. She becomes a serial procrastinator that will only wake up when dead or other serious events will eventually wake her up from the life-coma.

Where is the adventure? Where is the exploration? Where is play? It is lost, into childhood memories and slowly fading at an increasingly fast rate.

*

Your body: a shell to abuse or a creature to use? The obstacles to engaging in a mature physical practice.

Imagine a world where people go out buildering the city, balance on rails on the way back from work, living an active life. A world where people would stay curious and ready to face authentic experiences. What an incredible place to be. Everyone would act with purpose, engaging in all sort of physical activities, rather than living a grey polluted life, both for the environment and for the body.

When taking care of a physical practice, there is a difference when using the body as a passive instrument or as a tool that can reshape us.

But what are the obstacles to engagement than? Let’s see some.

Conformism: doing what others do, without critical thinking, questions or doubts. Why the car rather than the bike? Why a teacher rather than another? Why a supermarket rather than the farmer? Why a fitness approach rather than a movement perspective? Why the local gym rather than one that is 50 km away?
The most informed and better choices never come easy, but the effect that they can have on anyone’s life is just huge.

Laziness: as lack of decision making, the perception of not being able to do things. The procrastination. The fluctuation into a comfortable state of existence. Why are you doing nothing? Do you have a solid justification for your everyday otium?

Local life: as lack of travels and exploration of new places, stimuli, macro-organisms, and communities. Why are you staying in the same place all your life? Do you know what is out there?

De-responsibilization: The act of giving justification for what we do to someone else. Who is responsible for what you do? Why do you act as you act? Do you feel like you chose to be where you are or someone else (or something else) made the choice for you?

Detachment: Living a plain existence, completely far from the physicality. The development of a body of any kind. A life that is lacking voluntary risks taking and personal development. How many times do you expose yourself to your weaknesses and fears?

Poor Visualization: In terms of perceived options. how do we use what we have? How many things are available already?

And so on; the list is still partial.

Certainly, being aware of them it is already a starting point, but it is not enough. How can we move from there into creating actual solutions to these problems that can filter inside us and be understood? Next week I’ll post some antidotes to these venoms.

Stay on board and hold on tight – we are getting into the storm,
Marcello.

Balancing – Corollaries of the manifesto

Balancing – Corollaries of the manifesto

Balancing: Corollaries of the manifesto

Ascent:

If you know me, you know I have a thing towards nice gadgets. I totally love them, and I do not plan to hide it. I do not cover myself up like a late baroque fetishist, but I use some.

They help me keep in my daily life in order, they save some time and they make my hours lighter.

I use a small chalk bag to carry everything I might need with me, I have a basic pair of shoes that can serve me in any situation, I wear comfortable clothes that often can be used both to train and to casually exist into different situations. When traveling I have a satellite bag that can come out of my backpack in case I need to drop the bigger luggage somewhere. When training I do not look for water, I have a big bag of many liters in capacity to become a camel myself.

Now the core of the matter. All these elements came out of the necessities I have encountered along the way, not the other way around. Therefore, this is a bottom-up approach, the practical theorists’ one.

On the other side of the spectrum, we have people like the preppers. They prepare for things that they have not lived. They think they are going to need certain things and they build from there. They do not actually know the specific needs that every situation will ask for, because they have no actual experience of them. The second approach is the top-down approach, that starts from an idea and from there it creates a practice.

Between the two ways of living my life, I prefer the first one, especially for the most relevant things that I do. I am a believer in field testing and from there investigation and development.
And I have had many confirmations of this in my life by many high level (in commitment, experience, and understanding) practitioners.

Now transfer this concept into a practice of balance. One can either go out and start to look around into space and from there create something out of practice or start thinking: what can I create in order to balance on it? And from there the Bosu and all the dark companies.

Ascending from an element up, descending from a concept down. Very different processes.

Availability:

On those busy evenings, one hilarious thing happens in many cities around the world. The treadmill runners are released. As if they were possessed by the Adédjé spirit or bitten by la Tarantula Siciliana, people of all ages suddenly fill the gyms. Usually, this comes with the realization that they need to take care of their bodies. Hence, they start a race against their lipids. You can see them all from the crystal-clear façade of big buildings running in a line and in a frustrating loop leading them nowhere. The valorous alleys are the unmissable perfect ultimate model cushioned shoes, the fancy gloves, the perfect matching outfit and last but not least the headbands against sweating.

What happens if all the elements are not in place? I.e. the treadmills are full, the gym is closed, the clothes are yet to be washed, the shoes are broken etc. – The only solution is “I’ll do it tomorrow”. Let me tell you, this sentence is already the root of the very end of your physical development.

“Cuttlefish bones” was writing E. Montale in regard to his poetry. It was a hymn to minimalism, an invitation to strip it down to the bone.

Did you want to go for a run? Go run. Nothing more, nothing less. Before thinking about it, get out, so it with what you have, it will be more than enough.

From here my view of using what is there, to never have the problem of not having something. A million of excuses are out of the windows and it all comes down to personal accountability.
You do not want to go out practicing on a floor? It’s on you. The soil will always be there, waiting for your soft body to interact with it.

On the other hand, a slackliner that is traveling and doesn’t have a slackline will sit on the sofa forgetting to be a practitioner. A skater without a skate becomes a hero without the costume. A juggler without …well you know where this is going.

Wherever I have been in the world, I scouted a bit and I found bars, I found walls, I found floors.

Applicability:

So, let’s start from this question. What is the purpose of your practice?

Let’s create a fictional character for this: Johanna.

Now imagine J. wants to train her balance. However, she’s a thoughtful creature so she doesn’t rush onto the Bosu without any research. She wants to get some evidence-based perspectives, so she goes through the literature.

After some hours of research and many disappointing findings later, Hoppa: a beautiful systematic review pops out. Damn, she rushes into it “…A total of 2395 articles were evaluated, yet only 50 studies met the inclusion criteria” wow, that’s kinda bad but still a lot of articles to draw conclusion from, she continues excited “The main aim of this review was to identify a training protocol based on most commonly used interventions that led to improvements in balance”.

Good she goes through the methods for inclusion into the study, she reads the influences of different balance practices for different sports, she goes through the exercises used.
The findings suggest that “8 weeks, with a frequency of two training sessions per week, and a single training session of 45 min” appears to be the minimum requirement of time to produce substantial changes in a body in terms of both static and dynamic balance acquisition.

Everything is absolutely rocking.

Until the very bitter moment in the end: “…it may be very difficult to establish one model of training that would be appropriate for each sports discipline, including its characteristics and demands […] No gold standard is apparent in this field”.

And suddenly she realizes, balance, likewise many other abilities, is specific. Also, she figured out by looking at the studies that almost exercise if applied correctly will produce a positive outcome in the exercise itself and with some near transfer to similar activities both in the scenario and in the skill.

But the question is yet to be answered: What is the purpose of your practice?

She is a bit confused now. A lot of methods work, which one should she use?

Please, Johanna, step aside, I’ll take it with my two cents.

Personally, I want to be able to apply my learnings to open as many possibilities as possible in future practices.

Training like this you will be able to do something that you couldn’t do before and then apply it in an open scenario. You will suddenly have developed some skills to take out of your deck of cards at any moment when exploring an area everywhere in the world.

Put it like this: the mean of practice becomes the tool, and the tool supports the mean.

(If not clear, re-read the last paragraph a couple of times).

Now some last words from a practitioner to the real practitioners out there.

I am going deeper and deeper down this road, but not because I did not experiment with others.

My philosophy comes from reflections that have started on the field, not the other way around. And slowly I have refined them to arrive at these conclusions. I have experimented with many but stayed with this one because I found it convenient, empowering, liberating.

This is my view, your honor,
Marcello.

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