Regardless of all the different parkour philosophies and backgrounds, I’d like to think that some things are just a given when it comes to parkour people. Surely, there ought to be achievements we strive for that unite us together. Of course it is not how baggy your pants are nor what types of shoes you wear. Is it how long your train, how many shin-juries you have, how many videos you have watched, how many kong gainers you can do???
From my experience there is an astoundingly clear unit of qualitative measurement. It is a character trait. It is empathy. Yes, that’s right. A shit ton of it and here’s why:
Training is a test of oneself; strength, will, grit. And if the goal is to progress or even continuously “one-up” yourself then at every new step, new skill, new feat you are a beginner who showed up to try. Even if your goal is always just to show up, that is a test of consistency and commitment. If doing 10 unbroken muscles ups are “easy” for you then perhaps it takes you to rep #26 to understand the difficulty some people might experience to do one pull-up. This personal pursuit bears only as much weight as we can use it to understand others.
Do the things that are hard for you and you’ll remember that everyone experiences struggle. Extend understanding like focusing on full range of motion of your limbs. Climb walls and break jumps that exist invisibly between us all.
Empathy is the song that gets stuck in your head, it is a layer of air, it is presence. Empathy is the antithesis of the “really? it’s not that hard” attitude during training. It is people equally sharing space, time and paths. The paths are all going at different rates but everyone feels welcomed to be there. It is allowance to just be.