PARKOUR! (Or, How to Ninja-fy Your Life, Even If You’re Weak As Hell)

It’s that time of year again.  The time when I find myself staring longingly at the steps outside City Hall and the railings in the park and wishing I could propel myself off and over them like Spiderman.

It’s American Ninja Warrior season, kids, and Cordelia is hankering to be a parkour badass.


Grover Arms Be Damned

There is something about parkour that I find absolutely, beyond-words awesome.  Maybe it’s the ability to seemingly defy the limits of the normal physical world (like gravity).  Maybe it’s the superhero image of soaring over the bounds that mere humans have to respect and creating your own route howsoever you feel like creating it.  Maybe it’s because I’m a klutz, and the fearlessness of participating in an activity where every single move has the potential to be deadly impresses the hell out of me.

Either way, watching American Ninja Warrior each year makes me long (long, long, long) to find a parkour class somewhere in the B’lo and give it my all.  In spite of the fact that I have arms like this and in spite of the fact that I never once made it onto the rope in gym class.  (That’s right—never made it onto the rope, let alone made it up the rope.  I could never even get a starting grip.  I am still mortified to this day.)

Chances are the most parkouring I will ever be able to accomplish is something more along these lines.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a ninja of another sort.


Living Your Life Like a Ninja

The term “ninja” (much like “epic” and “awesome”) has become rather overused in the motivational blogosphere.  (This does not stop me from using all of these words on a regular basis.  They are punchy words, and I like them.)

But there’s still something to be said for the ninja mentality.  The all-in, do what needs to be done, human limits be damned way of approaching things.

You’d never see a ninja receiving a covert assignment and saying, “Yeah….You know, I’m kind of tired right now, and no one’s ever really done anything like this before.  So maybe we should just put a pin in it?”

You’d never see a ninja approaching a gap between two rooftops as he chases the bad guy and saying, “Hmmm.  If I don’t make this, I’m gonna look really stupid.  Maybe it’s smarter if I just don’t try.”

Ninjas get shit done.  And they usually make a few jaws drop by the way they do it.

So maybe I can’t vault over railings or run up a wall.  But there are plenty of boundaries and barriers in my life that I can soar over and bounce off like a maniac pinball who lacks the fear of death or injury.

I’ve been stuck in my soul-sapping 9-5 for going on 11 years now, an actual third of my time spent on this planet.

I never did go to grad school to get that M.F.A. in Creative Writing.

I have a hefty amount of debt still to pay down, a touch of craziness that trips me up from time to time, and the blogosphere is so crowded that only a fool would try to stand out in it.

But I’ve built this blog out of sheer recklessness, a handy removable verbal filter, and watching everything I can about how the big guys are doing it (then ignoring whatever bits didn’t jive with my gut feeling.)  I gave it a shot.  I wrote the way I wanted to, and I wrote it like people were already listening.  And so far, it seems to be working.  PARKOUR!

I’ve built a freelance business out of a “what the hell, let’s just leap” attitude and a heck of a lot of hustle.  I had zero experience and no portfolio apart from this snarkfest of a blog.  And it’s worked, by some grace of the universe.  PARKOUR!

I refuse to be guided by The Way Things Are and instead am creating my life, the way I want it, and believing it will come to pass.  PAR-mother-effing-KOUR, baby.

The thing is, when you open yourself up to the potential of your surroundings, you find yourself able to do all sorts of ridiculous tricks that look impossible to the people on the ground who are only paying attention to gravity.

Because most obstacles aren’t really barriers.  They’re just an opportunity to spin off some awesome new stunts that no one’s ever seen before.  You just need to approach them with the right mix of insane optimism and refusal to fear failure.

Don’t doubt.  Don’t conform.  Just do.

So.  What are YOUR boundaries and barriers, and how can you parkour their asses?

Image: THOR / Flickr

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  • OK… so you know you couldn’t say the word “ninja” without me hearing it.

    But, I love this post for the thought of the “effortless.”

    Effortlessly jumping over obstacles. Effortlessly managing our obligations. Effortlessly doing the impossible.

    I am not saying any of this is easy… far from it. 
    But, when you work hard and practice… you make it look easy.
    And others are amazed. 😉

    •  An excellent point from a true ninja.  🙂

  •  That so sounds like something that would have happened to me.  🙂

  • Excellent stuff.

    T and some of his friends used to free run/Parkour and the stuff they got up to was quite incredible. Occasionally he’ll show me Youtube vids from people like Shieff and Walters and the stuff they can do will blow your mind – makes me sweat just watching!   (The silly stuff is among the best – like stripping off all their clothes while flipping back and forth.)

    •  I would LOVE to learn even a few basic tricks, but I’m afraid it would take me several years of weightlifting and stamina building just to get my weak little self up to the level where I could attempt even the basics.  😛

  • Thank you for putting this into words. Pushing for my husband’s music career- PARKOUR…. blogging nonstop with or without an audience… PARKOUR. I’ll probably start yelling that to myself in our apartment the next time I’m up late writing.

    •  Amen!  Me too.  😉

      p.s.  Just discovered your blog recently, and you’re doing an excellent job.  Keep PARKOURING the heck out of that thing, baby!

  • Nancy

    I’ve always wanted to be a ninja. No joke. Thank you for introducing a new point of view in which I can accomplish that dream!  I will forever channel my inner ninja whenever I need to overcome my own personal barriers and to get shit done! But between you and me, I’ll probably still practice throwing ninja knives at a wooden board in my friend’s backyard. 🙂

    Great posts and great blog by the way. I just found your blog today and I’m really glad I did. You write very well and I really love your sense of humor. 

    • Thank you for the kind words!  Glad to have you on board.

      And if you do truly practice throwing knives in your friend’s backyard, you are officially my coolest person of the week.  🙂

      • Nancy

        I do! It’s very fun, but of course  a lot harder than it looks. Nobody said becoming a ninja was going to be easy 😉

  • I feel the same way. Except my execution seems to suck.

    I’ve tried being a kick ass freelancer. I did manage to freelance for several years but never got to the “golden” level like Bruce Leroy did in The Last Dragon: 

    I’m not a 9-5 person but here I am, commenting on this post from my cube. Why? Because it works for now.

    I have made some small accomplishments so far this year and have more challenges in the pipeline. One of the toughest is trying to come up with enough creative fun/challenges for my kids (that includes passing on Spanish).

    • Ahh, grasshopper, but it doesn’t matter if you reached Bruce Lee heights with your freelancing–it’s the fact that you were doing it that made you a ninja.  Is my blog the biggest on the block?  Hah!  Is my freelancing bringing me mega bucks and mega glory?  I wish.  But they *are* allowing me to do what I love and make a push to change things.

      If you need the cube right now, that’s cool.  That doesn’t mean you still can’t parkour the hell out of the things you’re currently taking on.  I plan on yelling “PARKOUR!” after I tackle that mound of dishes that’s been mocking me for a week.  Or when I go outside and rip out the weeds that are threatening my in-the-works DIY patio.

      Say it with me, my friend:  PAR-mother-effing-KOUR!


  • Husband O’Cordelia

    Here’s a compilation of Parkour FAILS that may change your mind about getting into Parkour.

    • Yup.  That looks about like what I’d be able to accomplish.  😛

  • Susan

    Enjoyed this post. I was in a writing slump, read this and on the drive home pulled together my ideas for a blog post I’d been noodling on for a week. Here it is:


    •  You PARKOURED that post!

      As a somewhat frequent moviegoer (and someone whose husband is not at all afraid to vocalize his many frustrations w/the current theater-going experience), I have to say I LOVE your vision for the future.  While I ought to be more impressed by the Schrodinger’s Cat-inspired parallel universe seating, I have to say that the in-theater bathrooms with screens showing you what you’re missing are Freaking Genius.

      You need to partner with some large theater chains/plumbing companies and Remora the heck out of that idea.  (See:

      Brilliant, my friend.  I’m honored my post helped to bring this into being!

      • Susan

        Whoa! Thank you for the very kind and energizing response.

        Most women I’ve talked to LOVE the in-theater bathroom idea. 🙂 There must be a market!

        Thanks for the remora link. I’m actually thinking about doing that! YIKES! Stay tuned!