A way of conduct

A way of conduct

And today once more, the recurrent questions reached my senses, pantomimical from afar, or spoken when the passersby were closer: why do you do it?

Well…

The fascination of conflicts 

Who has not been fascinated, by the great heroic feats of the past? Who did not thrive in awe when diving into the struggles of Odysseus coming back to Ithaca, Musashi sailing on his ultimate duel with Kojirō, and the three hundred Spartans resistance in the battle of Thermopylae? 

It is nonnegligible that conflicts have some seducing facets.

As Ms. D. Faust highlights in her talk, “Telling War Stories: Reflections of a Civil War Historian”, strives depict the “boundary of the human, the inhuman, and the superhuman”.

People are attracted by the disorder caused via these confrontations and by the potential awakening of unknown capabilities as these occurrences have evocative powers.

They are curious to see what this shuffling of the cards might bring on the other side. Hence, fights have always been on the top of the list when writing tales, legends, and build traditions.

Not always during mankind history wars have been present, yet, this bizarre need for fighting against others or one’s self never left. The ethnographer A. Gennep, has shed light on what appears strongly rooted in every culture, the “rite of passage”. Native Americans used to send their adolescents in the woods to fulfill various tasks without help, Aboriginals left the youths fasting in the wild to discover themselves, the Vanuatu people have their adolescents perform bungee jumping with vines and (almost) scratch the head on the ground to look death in the eyes and come back – if fortunate enough to. And the list goes on and on, these rituals are as widespread as the sand in the desert.

Pretty clearly, these traditions remained for a long time because they brought something into people’s lives. Yes, most times too aggressively, exaggeratedly and abusively, like most things in the past – however, to this day whoever I talked to during my life who regularly faced minor harsh living conditions and discomfort, or una tantum intensively (near death experience for example), had gained something indelible, written behind the eyelids.

What are these events made of?

When death has you by the throat, you don’t mince words. F. Durrenmatt

These events are authentic and contains hazards. Solely the person who undergoes the process of unfolding them is held accountable for the outcome. Words become irrelevant and fade quickly, facts and actions appear more concrete and the only mean of communication with reality.

They observe very clear binary outcomes of success or failure and they rapidly take utmost importance in their completion. An absolute immersion and alignment of all facets of one’s self are experienced, together with a deep struggle with the ego, which demands to escape the situation. This part of the self, only cares in preserving the carrier of the genes, and it starts to formulate all sort of concerns, pretexts and projections to seek safety – the weaker minds can’t help but fall prey of these calls, entirely failing the task at once.

It appears to my eyes of absolute necessity that the task responds to principles of non-reversibility and would produce, in case of negative outcomes, some relevant consequences upon the body of the performer. The higher the stakes, the bigger the realizations of the outcomes.

Those who go through an experience of the kind immediately are slapped by the crude reality of things. The harsh finiteness of their existence and the unfolding wheel of the Present who demands for opposing necessities.

Life on the other side

The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and the full moon was setting radiantly in the west, when I found myself on the surface of the ocean, in full view of the shores of Lofoden, and above the spot where the pool of the Maelstrom had been. -E.A.Poe “A Descent into the Maelstrom”

I have seen people around me go through tough battles and I did so myself over and over again.

If the task is completed successfully, even if minor prices are paid (bruises, cuts, injuries, deep fatigue) life is seen under a different light. It is questioned in its core, relevant aims, goals and priorities appear clearer, and taking the right actions appears of extreme simplicity.

This occurs due to a change of perspective in one’s life – the everyday existence made of trivial preoccupations is out of the window and the spectrum of possibilities appears wider and shines in the revelation of its truths.

Every time an event like this takes place these realizations come back stronger and they initiate a momentum which makes the thread of insightful correct decisions easy to maintain. Naturally, however, this effect won’t last forever, and the body is brought back to grey homeostasis. 

Here is where most people fail to understand how to apply these principles into their lives. The approach should be systematic. Fights should be fought. Risks should be taken. The process should be regularly repeated.

An invitation to shuffle the cards once more

 

I remember drinking tea and questioning an old friend, after a day of struggles together, how often should one’s value be proven. Less than a few seconds of talks, and we both realized the stupidity of the subject. It is not about proving anything, it is about embracing a way of conduct. 

Somehow, I fight because I can’t avoid it if I want to stay true to my full understanding of existence. And this path, I have chosen, in all its apparent paradoxical dissonant dichotomies, makes total sense.

I invite you not to indulge in a soft and calm existence, filled with days that look and feel the same until death finally gives a sparkle of light in the darkroom. Even Achilles in the right environment would have lost his warrior spirit.

On the other hand, I am aware that the more the life matures its fruits and empowers the awareness, the more the preoccupations of what can leave if the battles are lost arise. These fears shall not be cultivated.

Nothing will stop me from fighting my battles whenever I can, may they be facing an accurate leap, exploring the abyss, performing a free solo or diving in the depth of the oceans.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever“. Gandhi’s whispers are hard to embody in the chaos of life, but we try hard, every day.

Until next time,

Marcello.

The call of the city – a short film

The call of the city – a short film

“The call of the city” is a short film showing a world beyond the silence of everyday routines.

The space is talking, it is inviting, and it is offering options at all times.

Since creating doesn’t start from nothing, everything is a transformation.

It’s about becoming modern druids with the eyes of a visionary, ready to see fantastic beasts high up in the clouds and the ears of a prisoner, attentive to the minimal ripples in reality.

Everything is already there, for those who can read through the lines.

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Urban Exploration – A manifesto

Urban Exploration – A manifesto

Urbex is the art of carefully and thankfully making tea in somebody else’s villa, bringing pots, leaves and water of your own, without them noticing.

 

A preamble: why more manifestos?

 

All people act but only a few do it following personal Cartas or codes. Mostly, things happen in a flowing continuum where possibilities are evaluated and picked in order to get the best outcomes out of a situation. The problem with this process? On spot, logical decisions are strongly influenced by sensations and instincts. Needless to say, this tornado of emotion can produce poor immediate strategies.
From as long as politics was born (more than one people in a room), laws started to arise to avoid people working only towards their own genetic egoistic needs.

Given the rate of analphabetism of the past, it was an absolute necessity that everyone would have blind rules to follow. An understanding wasn’t necessary, the important thing was that people were acting in such a way that peace and order were maintained. No thinking nor grey scales, just black and white.
In this sense, social control provides crucial guidance: a set of regulations and coercion rules are aimed at maintaining the order within a given association, culture or population. Thus, distinguishing unacceptable conducts from the acceptable ones.

Nowadays, many are the driving forces that contribute to support and preserve the idea behind social control and formal processes are only one of them (criminal justice laws, punishment, and deterrence).
The increased application of education and schooling programs enhanced individual critical thinking as well as the ability to resonating around thorny topics. Informal processes took the lead: education, family, morality, and values are now equally strong forces in modulating individual behavior.

By my side, I have strong ethics and moral codes for many things I do. I can predetermine my actions and align facts with reality not to have any bad surprises along the way. For example, in my life, I choose not to steal, it’s a matter of respect. Similarly, I understand the value of propriety as one of the means to achieve peace and social balance.

Therefore, when finding myself in a situation in which stealing would be really easy (e.g. I see a 500 € note fall off the pocket of a person rushing in front of me), I simply avoid it (I’d run towards the person to give them back the money since they are not mine).
I do this not because I am scared of the effect that my actions may legally have (being fined, going to prison or being punished in general) but because my beliefs and understanding would guide my choices. Not doing something only because of the consequences, is for the poor minded people, that do not have internal principles to align to.

That is the reason why I am writing different manifestos to put out there, ink on paper, my declaration of intent. Doing so, I can stay true and transparent in the things I believe in and that drives my actions.


The core of the matter

 

Exploring surroundings and using space involves in a nutshell scouting challenges, researching the relation with an environment, living authentic experiences and observing the most beautiful transient treasures that the world has to offer from the front seats. Sunsets and sunrises from the top of a building, cascades and rivers in the core of the earth, the street lights in a pulsating city or the bright stars in a night without moon are all part of the same book. 

Although most of these activities occur during the day in public areas, some others still happen at night, in silence and in off-limits scenarios. It’s enough to think of the incredible catacombs in Paris, the underground Tube Tunnels in NYC or the London Sewers net (besides some occasional “close encounters of the turd kind” (1), every mission holds nice surprises). They cannot be explored in ease, but aren’t you curious to give a look to see what’s hidden in there?

 Having said so, trespassing, aka invading other people’s properties, shouldn’t be done lightly and that’s why a manifesto is also needed in this case.

 

Redefining the starting point: one axiom.

 

In full understanding that private property is of extreme relevance for social balance, justice, efficiency, and unity but knowing that I value self-regulation and internal processes more than external control systems, I set this as a founding axiom of my practice:

 

Within any urban and natural scenario, there are no impassable boundaries.

 

A city is of its citizens and nature is of those who inhabit it.

 

This axiom ceases immediately to be true if the undermentioned rules are not satisfied to the fullest.

 

Rules

 

1. Non-interference

“When we interfere with nature, regardless of whether our intentions are good or not, we create a break in [that] natural history” (2)Do not disturb people and people won’t disturb you. The first law of the jungle. Remember you are doing things for yourself and yourself only.

This idea closely resembles the environmental “preservation principle” by Regan, which was aimed at promoting “non-destruction, noninterference and non-meddling with nature” (3).
Similarly a few years later, Taylor (4) continued saying that ‘we must not try to manipulate, control, modify, or ‘manage’ natural systems or otherwise intervene in their normal functioning’.

Take this to an extreme. Look at the beautiful global warming issue that we are facing nowadays (2019). Never underestimate the power of a non-interference mindset.


2. Respect

One of Aristotelis’ main arguments in defense to private property was that “communal ownership increases the likelihood of neglect”. Therefore personal possession allows the whole society to be more efficient (5). 

Having said so, this cognitive bias highlights that if you are in an area of the city that is not your garden or your neighborhood, you will most likely think that somebody else will take care of a problem that you might have created.

Being aware of this is essential to act as if everything belonged to you. Would you ever break the glass of a window to get inside your house? You wouldn’t, then why consider it? Move on.

Always pay respect for other people as if they were your sisters and brothers. Karma will give you this back.

3. Self-Protection

Do everything you have to do to protect your structural integrity; in a few words: do not harm yourself. We are not daredevils, we apply our skills (previously built) to open up possibilities, we do not jump into danger. It’s a process, a very different thing.

Regarding others, always remember this statement: “The issue of self-protection does not, however, exclude the use of force in protection of life” but to be legitimate “it has to be justifiable,
and not disproportioned to the force threatened. A person, with a justifiable cause, could use force in defense of family and self, and also in defense of others” (6).

This means that if nobody physically hurts you, you will always avoid physical interaction.

On top of this remember, you know why you are doing what you are doing, but others might misunderstand your actions. They might think you are a criminal, a thief, a terrorist. It’s your responsibility to behave in such a way nobody thinks you are one.
THM: Don’t dress up in crazy military clothes, carrying three knives, with a gun on your side, a helmet, and an anti-nuclear radiation mask. You might look a bit suspicious.

4. Minimalist Mindset

“Less is more and more is less, more or less” (7). Travel light, bring the bare minimum. You will need very few things. You might want to feel the hitch to buy rappels, night visors, retractable sticks, invisible ropes, and other expensive tools, but the reality is you will need very little of that. Read out loud some old school stoicism down here and let it brainwash you. They. Were. Right!

“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours” (8).

5. Do things with style

Overall, don’t forget – it’s always about style. The way you react, the way you move, the way you face problems. As my friend, Gato once said: “Parkour is about lifting a slice of cake with a fan” (9).

Nobody wants to be the bull in a china shop. Remember a cat moving through balconies, a snake slithering in leaves, an eagle gliding in the sky above the mountains. The deepest efficiency hides in aesthetics.

 

Corollaries

 

Non-interference corollaries

– Learn a thing or two about mimetism, it will be useful.
– Do not film sensible things.
– Do your thing, use minimal interaction with others.
– Silence is your best friend.

Respect corollaries

– Take responsibility for your actions: fix if you break and no suing for any reason.
– If asked to leave, leave, immediately, if asked to explain do it with care.
– Be kind, aware and serious about your actions.

Self-protection corollaries

– Always carry a micro first aid kit. What, don’t you have one already? Make one now.
– Tell at least one person where you are and when you will be back.
– Learn a thing or two about disguise, diplomacy, and confounding.
– Know/Check your surfaces.
– Have a plan B.
– Stay aware at all times. Every smell, every sound, every motion, counts.

Minimalistic Mindset corollaries

– Being minimalist doesn’t mean to go around naked. I.e. you wouldn’t go into the sewers with flip-flops. Wouldn’t you?
– Nothing is as important as a good head flashlight.

Style corollaries

– The style is your passport, don’t forget it at home.
– A good attitude can overcome the toughest of the problems.

 

End words

 

It’s not enough to do, we must do and reflect.

Garrett, quoting Downfallen (an Urban Explorer and Base Jumper): When we see a sign that says, “do not enter” we understand that this is simply a shorthand way of saying “leaving protected zone: demonstrate personal accountability beyond this point”.

I stand behind every word written in this document, to be transparent and real, to not be a hypocrite and ultimately to give a voice all those people whose curiosity goes beyond the limitation the modernity wants to impose.

Until next time,
Marcello.

 

Reference

 

1) Urban, S. (2019). Close encounters of the turd kind | London Sewers & London’s Main Drainage | sub-urban.com. Retrieved from http://www.sub-urban.com/close-encounters-of-the-turd-kind/

2) Hargrove, E. (1996). The Foundations of Environmental Ethics (1st ed.). Denton, Texas: Environmental Ethics Books.

3) Regan, T. (1981). The Nature and Possibility of an Environmental Ethic. Environmental Ethics, 3(1), 19-34. doi: 10.5840/enviroethics19813131

4) Taylor, P. (1986). Respect for nature – A theory of environmental ethics (1st ed.). Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

5) Fred D. Miller, J. (2019). Aristotle on Property Rights. Retrieved from https://orb.binghamton.edu/sagp/317


6) Nemeth, C. (2017). Private Security and the Law, 5th Edition. Milton: Taylor and Francis.

7) Boer, S. (2015). Less is More, and More is Less, More or Less: The Historical Progression, Aesthetic Characteristics, and Physical Limitations of Minimalism. Retrieved from

https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1071&context=notabene

8) Aurelius, M. (175 A.D) Meditations (1st ed.). Somewhere around Rome: The publisher is lost in the night of times.

9) Mazzoleni, F. (2013). squalo ragno elefante gatto. Retrieved from http://squaloragnoelefantegatto.blogspot.com/2010/

10) Garrett, B. (2014). Explore everything (1st ed.). London: Verso.

 

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No reasons to practice

No reasons to practice

“Do not play video games!” said the old doctor to the kid “You’ll never be able to conclude anything in your life, do something useful”. 15 years forward and the kid is a billionaire, having started a business based on his gaming.

 

A MMA fighter trains to be ready to defend his loved ones in case of a street fight. On a summer night, that moment comes but the stress of the situation and the close banging of a gun paralyse him with terror, making the use of his well-developed skills impossible.

 

Miss. Prepper builds the best bunker in the world, filled with all the necessities for healthy living (food, water, beds, even a small garden!). Meanwhile, the clock keeps running and a different future arises: she has to face communication problems with her husband. She’ll eventually divorce because she was too busy to prepare for the wrong scenarios and now she can’t deal with a harsh and unexpected reality.

 

If you managed to live past your first months or even days in this world, you have realised that at some point: predictability is no precise science. You bake the cake, put in all your love, open the oven and realise a black piece of charcoal is waiting for you instead of an angelical composition. You build up the perfect plan and then things do not go as expected.

 

Having said so, many people base their training on the idea that they can reduce the black swans from occurring. That is, getting stronger, readier, more adaptable. Fair enough, this suddenly provides the practice with a scope, a “reason to be”, and therefore it becomes meaningful.

 

Others might choose to train for the sake of getting a better body composition; some would choose to learn how to dance with their partners to enjoy the pleasures of the night.

 

Call it a human bias, an inclination or a necessity: humans are constantly looking for reasons. This is probably one of the most primitive embodied drives for doing things. A morbid curiosity, that like an itch that never stops will hunt you until it’s gone.

It goes from the micro-elements present in our life (like understanding the function of a bedbug), all the way to expanding into the meaning of life.

This phenomenon can be associated both with the desire of pursuing an investigation for its own sake, but also to that of understanding how to spend time in the most fruitful manner.

 

The bright side is that this search can help to discover the motives behind what we do: it can bring empowerment, increasing both the levels of motivation and self-fulfilment.

The side effect of this incessant questioning is that it can become somewhat of a fixation and a principle to embrace, risking to become a limitation or an excuse for wars and conflicts. Just recall all religious, economic or political fights: neverending and draining.

 

If we narrow it down to our physicality things don’t change: a validation seems necessary.

 

I myself have been building a list of things that I want out of my practice. I want it to open options for me, to keep myself curious, deepen my understanding and push my boundaries. I want it to allow me to live more authentic experiences and ultimately fill me with gratitude for being on this Earth.

 

However, still, if our personal pre-set of criteria (aesthetics, fitness, functionality etc.) are not met, our practice becomes “wrong” or “meaningless”.

 

Now you see, what at first looked like opportunities for development, now become horses’ blinkers that enhance a single vision to erase the bigger picture.

 

Those who train for functionality will see in the movement of a dancer a useless mix of gestures; the bodybuilder will see in learning how to climb on top of a wall, something that is completely out of reach or needs. The climber will think that running a marathon is something tiring and avoidable.  A swimmer will go home with a car because …who cares about my body when I am not in the water!

 

Then why we inherently can’t conceive that it is enough to be able to do something to validate it?

 

Because things can be done in several different ways!

 

One can draw without understanding and cook without interest. Or a universe can be opened on every single matter. We have all seen the eyes of those who “were not there” while they were there.

 

It then appears obvious, that rather than on the reasons why we do things, the focus should be placed on the attention and the understanding, the precision of the gestures and the inherent features of each and every act.

 

I’ll finish this article with a short story titled “the perfect cut of the peony flower”. This story accurately depicts a world of details that is hidden to the most, but that within practitioners is very clear and recognisable. It’s like a secret society with no walls nor doors, that can only be entered out of deliberate work on the field. This is what I am after, not “reasons” to validate what I do.

 

“Sekishusai was a master of the sword who had fought in the wars of the Sengoku period for decades and had retired to polish his skills further. He had impressed the Tokugawa clan enough, and his sons and grandsons served the new Shogun as warriors and instructors, but Sekishusai himself had essentially retired.  He had nothing more to prove to the outside world, so he ignored most challenge requests.

That day that Musashi came to the inn, a servant from Sekishusai came to deliver a note and a box to Yoshioka. She apologized to Yoshioka stating that her master would not be meeting him for a duel as he was ill with a cold.  As a token of his sincerity, she presented to him the box, in which was a single peony flower. She had been ordered to make sure that Yoshioka received it.

Yoshioka took a glance at the flower, and laughed.  He picked it out of the box and flung it to the ground in the inn’s garden.  He then sent the servant on her way telling her that Sekishusai was an old has-been, a feeble-minded coward whose skill clearly wasn’t up to snuff.  He then went out with his entourage to drink and celebrate his “victory” over the headmaster of the Yagyu Shinkage Ryu school of swordsmanship.

Now Musashi had overheard everything.  After all, he himself had come to the city to try his sword against Sekishusai. Once Yoshioka was gone, Musashi went into the garden and picked up the flower that Yoshioka had so carelessly tossed away.

At first, there was nothing special about the flower that Musashi could see. But after another look, Musashi suddenly noticed something that his keen eyes, honed with years of training and battle, perceived as particular.  It was at the cut end of the flower. It had not been cut with scissors used for flower arrangement, which is what one would’ve expected.

It had been cut with a sword.

It was, indeed, a perfect cut.  A cut of supreme precision that only a great master with immense skill could’ve made.

Musashi realized that Yagyu Sekishusai Munetoshi was not a “feeble-minded coward” or an “old has-been” as Yoshioka had so arrogantly declared.  He was, in fact, still a formidable warrior, one that Musashi would dearly love to test himself against or learn from. So he took out his sword, made a similar cut at the end of the stem, and had it sent to the Yagyu school as his calling card. (1)”.

 

Have a good journey everyone,

Marcello.

 

*

References:

 

(1). Yoshikawa, E. (1990). Musashi (1st ed.). London: Corgi.

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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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