How my life was turned upside down
“What made you start acrobatics?” A question I’m frequently asked and often find hard to answer in one clear statement. Maybe you are the same?
I’ll tell a little story of my parkour and acrobatic journey and try to share the experiences and influences that made me a devoted soul to this practice.
My family own a small cottage just outside of Glasgow and when I was growing up, I spent a lot of time outdoors. Climbing trees, playing games, walking, exploring rivers and jumping rocks. This is where it all began and something about this experience changed me forever!
My grandma was a very creative woman and she showed me something very special indeed! How to see the world differently. A rock was no longer just physical matter. It was a canvas and could be painted to make it into new animals of choice, faces, toys or even treasure. I’ll be honest I never really had a spark for art. The art of movement however…now you’re talking.
Rivers became challenging rock mazes and trees became my own climbing walls. I was a lone ranger with the thirst for adventure, my imagination was limitless and it still is. Do you ever experience this feeling of freedom and exploration?
Now for my next big influence. This one is a little outside the box. The World Wrestling Federation. To be more specific, Matt and Jeff Hardy. Please feel free to use Google now if you are confused. These guys changed my life. Not for the wrestling really, but for the control of their bodies.
This inspired me to be creative with my movement and this is why I’m a performer today. What we watch has a massive influence on what we do. That was a massive lesson I’ve learned and have taken around with me ever since. Think about what you watched a lot as a kid and see if anything makes more sense now…
So, needless to say, I start throwing myself around. Learning to flip and twist off of just about everything. My dad sees this and one year he buys me a garden trampoline. Thanks buddy! My acrobatic career begins.
Set a scene. I’ve just met the most amazing person ever, who is just like me. A close friend who, when we first met, challenged me to flip off a roadside postbox. We both completed the challenge. Thanks Daniel, you’ll always be one of my closest friends. If I had not met you, the next paragraph could not be written.
It’s 2006 and internet forums are a big thing. May they rest in peace. So me, Daniel and a handful of random strangers decide to go to London where a parkour gathering is being organised. All of this from an internet forum, where we set up dates, times, places to sleep and eat. I’m 16 at this point so it’s a rather big journey for me. If you are a movement practitioner, when was your first experience with the community and what happened?
To this day the memory is still one of the happiest of my lifetime. Paint the scene: it’s a beautiful warm, sunny day on the South Bank of London. It’s August so London is buzzing with people and things happening all over the city.
I’m with around ten of my new-found friends who I can only describe as my spirit animals. Just awesome, welcoming, open-minded people. The gathering has attracted a massive following and hundreds of them meet on the grassland next to the London Eye. The moment that will never leave me is when someone arranges for a mass backflip. Everyone in the group has to do a backflip at the same time. We work out the loudest whistle in the group and get ready. The whistle would signal the backflips to start. I’m excited and rightfully so because I am a part of it all.
The sound is beautiful. The group’s loud chatting and excitement turn to anticipation and silence. Then the whistle. My life goes upside down for a moment…literally, haha. Then, like heavy raindrops, the feet batter the ground in a pattering of out-of-sync landings. The energy of hundreds of backflips enter the ground…and then the roar of celebration. Hugs left, right and centre. Happy faces and just an overwhelming sense of connection.
I’m crying happy tears writing this, thinking back on these times. Powerful happy tears. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoyed some of the little insights into my world and I would love to hear some of yours.
Peace and love.
Fancy a park experience like Sam’s?
Sam is hosting two handstand park jams on Wednesday 26th April as part of his Balance in Colour challenge. It’s green week so it’s perfect to choose nature as the background to photos showing you in a balance position, wearing green clothes.
Balance in Colour is an 11-week project where your photos are featured on the Instagram page, and each week Sam makes a collage from the shots. At the end, there will be one integrated artwork.
The meeting point for the first two-hour park jam is 11am at the fountain in Kelvingrove Park. The second is 6pm at the Cuningar Loop in Rutherglen.
You can find out more about the project and the park jams at the Balance in Colour Instagram page.