Lately, we've been a little obsessed with Parkour. You know, those modern-day super heroes captured on YouTube running through urban landscapes, scaling brick walls, and leaping between buildings to a soundtrack by Eminem and Chemical Brothers. At first, it got me thinking about how the built environment could be re-designed to challenge us mentally and physically. I imagined Olmstead rolling in his grave as all the gentle, meandering paths through the city were replaced with more direct routes through the trees and over Revolutionary War monuments. It would give new meaning to the words "urban jungle."
But Parkour is really about finding the most efficient way from point A to point B in the moment. It's about creatively adapting to what's already there, which can't be anticipated or planned.
The ability to jump from a three story building and land on two feet may be an evolutionary advantage expressed in this small sub-group of people, but I think there's something we can all learn from the practice of Parkour. From how we respond to change or adapt to new surroundings, to how we interact with the environment and each other, we can choose to adopt a Parkour state of mind. We can remain flexible and open. When we reach a dead end, we can remember to look up.