Saturday, November 29, 2008

Misery is learned

Little kids are an interesting combination of fear and bravery. I was training this week when my friend Odilon brought his son Arturo to the mats. Arturo is just shy of being 2 years old and was not pleased that his father had brought up around all these large, loud men. So I taught him to high five which for a two year old let alone a thirty two year old is pretty cool. As Arturo decided that we weren't all bad he and I "raced" down the mat producing a pleased laughter from the young man, unless I got to close and he would careen with some horror toward his father.

As I was about to rotate in for a round of grappling, I did a forward roll and heard Arturo explode with cackles of glee so hard that he almost sat down. Being a scientist I wanted to increase my number of samples and did it again. The boy was near to tears. As I turned away to grapple, he pumped his little legs over to me and said, "pwease". Needless to say I had to postpone my round for some rolls.

Now I'm not a psychologist or behavioral expert but from what I recall from class, babies and toddlers go through a complex socialization fostered by genetically selected survival characteristics. Initially they attach to almost anything presumably because they cannot live without the assistance of a parent. However they learn over time that new and different are not good (see Arturo's response above), partially to grow their own identity but also as a way to survive, it's called caution. These are all probably good things, if science fiction teaches us anything it is that childlike species do not survive long unless as a source of nutrition for another less childlike species.

What I don't understand is when do we lose the pure joy of movement (in my pidgen Latin kinesiophilia)? I cannot remember the last time running drew laughter from my lips, nor do I become incapacitated by hilarity when I do more complex acrobatics. I know I love to train and am pleased by the neurohormonal cascade it produces, probably why I remain active and am not obese (my BMI does classify me as being overweight), but is this the same? We can appreciate the majesty of the athleticism of an Olympic athlete and it would seem that we should take pride in our shared lineage with these genetic outliers. Obviously our species' cultural elevation would be stunted if my graceless somersault was considered the epitome of comedic artistry, but I cannot imagine how much the incidence of dysthymia and depression would drop if we could all just like ourselves and our amazing ability move. The prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes would plummet if we retained this kinesiophilia (Yes I'm going to walk to work. Awesome! Hahaha).

Today I take joy in the little motor movements that make up my day.

Incidentally, check out Scott Sonnon's "Body-Flow: Freedom from Fear-Reactivity" he addresses much of this as part of a health and fitness paradigm.