Funambulation as a Meditation: Obstacles as a Metaphor, Part 3

“Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.” -Edith Wharton


For all of you with that lingual longing, for the vocab votaries and pirates of parlance, add this one to your glossary:

Funambulate    fu•nam•bu•late (fu-NAM-byoo-leyt):

To walk or dance on a stretched rope.

From French funambule, from Latin funambulus, from funis "rope" + ambulare "walk"

While the word can be translated literally as “rope walk”, I can’t help but notice that it also means, in English, to “Fun Ambulate” or to "Fun Walk"...  I digress.

This modern form of Funambulation is known as “slacklining”, and utilizes webbing rather than rope.  What began as a pastime for backcountry rock climbers has developed into a robust culture all its own.

Unlike some of the more infrastructure specific obstacles that I will be showing in this video series, slacklines are relatively easy to set up at home, and the skill is picked up with practice as opposed to something that must be taught to you by someone else.  I built mine. using some ratcheting truck tie-down straps that I picked up at a hardware store.

Below is the Funambulation as a Meditation video, demonstrating the obstacle itself, but also detailing this skill as a metaphor for living.

If you haven’t seen the film “I Believe I Can Fly”, I think its really worth your time. For me, it was one of the most inspiring films I have seen this year. The combination of crisp cinematography, startlingly high altitude filming locations, and seemingly fearless displays of human ability demonstrated by the cast make this a bit of a white-knuckle ride at times. Here is a 14 minute free clip of some of the greatest funambulists alive today.

Vibram Five Finger performance update:  Five little piggies make funambulating a breeze!  Notice in the image below that my little wrigglers form-fit flawlessly around the wobbly webbing of the slackline.  Yet another surface upon which they bestow a major advantage.


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Check back soon for part four of this series, and until then, please leave your graffiti on the wall below!

You, the reader, are much appreciated!  Muchas Gracias!

~Daniel Vitalis