Article written by Sam Coppack
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”
I recently came back from a 3-week trip in Europe with my man Elliot Johnson; teaching Parkour in Norway and getting back down to French rawness with the walls of Lisses and Evry. Since my return a feeling has surfaced that hitherto I’ve only really felt in small doses, and until I came across Chesterton’s quote above I’ve not been able to explain. Now, as if the feeling is burning through a length of rope to which I cannot see the end, I have the impression that my traveling experiences have affected me on more than just an obvious level, and could stay with me for life.
The feeling that I speak of…
…is one of an alien.
But hold tight. By this I don’t mean that I’ve discovered a drive to take over Earth or blast innocents with ray guns – blam blam. What I’m getting at is the feeling of arriving at your hometown as a stranger; the feeling that all the familiar buildings, people, trees and rivers are actually part of a world you’ve never experienced before.
As if you’ve landed on a new planet.
As if you’re walking through a new area on Legend of Zelda or Assassin’s Creed.
Or maybe, more accurately, as if you’ve woken up from a stupor and are finally seeing where you are for the first time.
It’s exciting. Now I see the people I’ve grown up with for 16 years in my village as characters in a game. What do these wandering, talking, eating, drinking, laughing, crying figurines actually have to say for themselves? What would happen if I broke habit and just sat with them for a while, listening to their opinions and stories? We’re all going to die at some point, might as well take a step back and simply take them in for a moment, see what they’re about.
You then loosen your grip on your judgements of places; coinciding with Parkour lifestyle heavily. That city everyone else looks down on actually has wicked spots that you love training at:
‘Mate, forget the fact that *insert scabby town/city* is a shithole; I wanna go smash that lovely catpass-pre!’
By living and engaging with other cultures, as I did in Norway and France, I realised a new sense of appreciation for my own culture and my place within it. In other words:
It feels like the adventure is still going.
And that is where I find excitement and change. The curiosity of an explorer, a foreigner – a tracuer sparks an enlivened sense of being, and so with more people than ever before traveling the world to train Parkour, I really hope that more and more of us rediscover our homelands…
…as foreign lands.
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