Have you ever seen those crazy parkour videos online? Parkour athletes are the people who run up walls, jump off of buildings, and move with amazing speed and agility from point A to point B in three dimensional space. Practitioners of the art are known as traceurs, literally “tracing” a path (say from the living room to the basement) over and over, building up speed and efficiency until they appear to be flying and rolling and generally moving like a ninja.
Dylan Brandon is now three years old and I have learned that if attention is not paid to a toddler, it is going to cost you. At the same time it is impossible to always be right by his side when there is laundry to be done, food to be prepared, and guitar to be played. By combining the principles of parkour with my own ideas on mindful alacrity, I am becoming more adept at juggling competing priorities. Let’s say the boy is watching The Jungle Book in the basement when Julia starts crying on the second floor. I identify Julia as the top priority then sprint up the stairs in the most efficient (and safe) manner possible. Once baby girl is secured, I trace the same path in reverse altering my level of risk taking due to carrying the cutie. These techniques work great in the kitchen as well, where I practice efficiency of movement by combining trips to the garbage, sink, or refrigerator and save time by not trying to do too many things at once.
Practicing parkour engages one’s brain in assessing at any given moment what is most important, then using one’s body to act swiftly when action is required. By committing to a discipline of mindful alacrity, there is no need to second guess the small stuff. If I am having difficulty deciding what is most important or what to do next, I recite my priorities: my self, my children, my wife, my house, my self. Take a deep breath, decide what most needs doing, then do it to the best of your ability. Now go jump off a building.