016. Sebastien Foucan (Part 1 of 3): Explorer, evolution, and adaptation

016. Sebastien Foucan (Part 1 of 3): Explorer, evolution, and adaptation

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Sebastien Foucan joins Craig for the first of a three part interview. Sebastien is best described – in his own words – as an explorer. Craig and Sebastien talk about what he means by explorer and how his journey of exploration has evolved over the years.

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Guest Introduction

[00:00:30] Hello, I’m Craig Constantine.

Sebastien: Hi, my name is Sebastien Foucan.

Craig: Sebastien has done so many different things. It’s difficult to summarize him and I think I would prefer to say that Sebastian is an explorer. Welcome, Seb.

Sebastien: Welcome. Thank you.

Craig: Today’s podcast is likely to run longer than our usual format because we have so many things we want to talk about and I want to remind everybody that the full transcripts of the podcasts are available on our website at moversmindset.com. Sebastian will invariably use some French phrases and words and that’s to be expected. I really [00:01:00] appreciate that you’re doing this in English. Thank you very much. Welcome Seb.

Sebastien: Thank you to have me here.

Sebastien as an Explorer

Craig: My saying explorer in the introduction, is a bit loaded. Most people would expect me to say many other things where they know you from and I want to first talk about why you consider yourself an explorer. What’s your journey?

Sebastien: Why I might consider myself as an explorer is because it’s the conclusion of a long process, which started when I was kids supposedly [00:01:30] and leads me to be known as one of the founder of a global phenomenon, a movement called Parkour, L’art du Deplacement, or freerunning. People can hear more about Parkour and freerunning. I’m the guy who is responsible for almost all the name because the original name is [00:02:00] Parcours, which is the French word for an obstacle course. When I started with my friend, as far as I’m concerned we were just doing child play. We’re just playing around and we never had any idea that would come up with something.

Craig: Who wants to go play in trees? And out the door everybody went.

Sebastien: Yes. That’s it. But along the way I was trying to understand what I was doing, so we call it Parcours, then it become L’art du Deplacement where we came [00:02:30] as a group. David call it Parkour. David Bell is known as a founder of Parkour in form of a legacy for his father. Then me being by myself, I say, “Okay, I want to develop my own thing,” and I take the name freerunning and freerunning becomes something else because for me, I keep on going on my journey as an explorer. Now I know I’m an explorer.

On Freerunning

Craig: When [00:03:00] you say freerunning became something else, do you mean that it became something else for you or do you mean that you found it had a life of its own that other people were expanding it and like-

Sebastien: Yeah, absolutely. It becomes something else because it’s been taken by other people and despite me as a founder, I was still here and I’m still alive and people just decide, you know what, this is what freerunning is about. If you look at the video and everything, freerunning is [00:03:30] people using flip and tricks and that makes-

Craig: Videos that you see today.

Sebastien: Yeah. The videos you see today is literally showing the landscape and how now the practices is being done also.

Craig: If I understand correctly, for you freerunning was literally your way of expressing yourself. You had a thing that was close to your heart, which you would consider Parkour with a k that you would consider you still hold true. But freerunning is something slightly [00:04:00] different from that.

Sebastien: For me to be honest, the word Parkour, freerunning, ADD is part of, as I say now it’s a global phenomenon. It’s people practice it. But I was more on a personal journey and freerunning is just one aspect at a part of a time. That’s what I can say about this is just like for me it’s almost like an empty shell. It’s [00:04:30] like you experiment, as an explorer you experience things. I knew I wanted to move away from Parkour because it’s legacy of David and I wanted to make sure that what I’m doing is coming from me and no one come claim anything from the stuff I discover and the stuff I bring.

Craig: Do you think anything when you see people do things under the label of freerunning, do you like assess that and say that’s not the way I would [00:05:00] do it or do you say you shouldn’t have a cork at the end of the line? That’s not freerunning ’cause you’re going to see so much of this thing that was your creation?

Sebastien: No. To be honest, when I see people doing freerunning, I don’t even look at it. For me where am I am now is beyond that. For me, it’s a physical activity and it’s organic. It grow by itself. I think a lot of people don’t understand that. It’s just [00:05:30] become huge and it’s just developed. I let people do what they have to do. As the coach I’m helping my student to grow as a person as well as coordination and like physically, but talking about freerunning for me is just like I don’t give any comment to other people.

Even I’ve got my own view on it is just like it is as it is. But the original idea of freerunning [00:06:00] was to move from one discipline to another discipline. Take what is useless and reject what is, no, take what is useful, sorry, and reject what is useless, like Bruce Lee says. That’s it because I’ve been inspired and I just explore. I just keep on going. I add things and I change and adjust. The purpose of it is liberation and self development.

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Sebastien’s Movement Journey

Craig: Just to be clear, I heard what you said and I want to make sure that they also understands [00:06:30] that that wasn’t a miss-choice of words. You said to move from discipline to discipline and you didn’t mean, you mean literally to move from one discipline to another. You’re interested in looking at tachi or martial art. Parkour for you is one piece of that larger journey. I only point that out because some people who are listening, that’s going to sound unusual. They’re going to think that freerunning is just a new label that you put on something you were already doing. [00:07:00] I think it’s clear to me that freerunning for you is this journey of exploration.

Sebastien: Yes, absolutely. As I say it’s like there is now officially there is three current. There is Parkour. There is freerunning and there is ADD. All related to those who were here at the early stage of the discipline. People [00:07:30] need to understand also my background because I’ve got a background of a traditional sport. I’m an artist, so I love everything related to art and I like to draw. I like to paint. I’ve got a background also with martial art, which I’m very interested in martial art. Not so much of the combat form, but more about the philosophy behind it and the direct application for your life.

[00:08:00] That’s influenced what I try to do with the idea of moving from Parkour to freerunning. No moving from Parkour or L’art du Deplacement because I came up with the name L’art du Deplacement and then to freerunning.

Craig: Let’s dig even deeper into this explorer idea. Tell me more about your journey as you see it and like where did the journey begin and where are you now? Where do you see it going?

Sebastien: I grew up in a family with [00:08:30] four brothers one sister. I think when you grow and you’re in the middle, you always try to find out who you are. Because you’ve got older and then younger and you always try to detach yourself to have your own personality. I think it’s also that’s part of my journey. I’ve always never been bold and audacious and had vertigo. I had a lot of things like kind of introvert [00:09:00] and you see a lot of people like this in Parkour. However, now I know better so I can explain. Now the map is clearer because for me it’s a journey and the journey for me is how can I get better from the mind, from the body and the environment because ultimately we are caterpillar who are crawling. All our life, we’re struggling and we want to become that butterfly.

All my [00:09:30] training, practicing, whatever I do is related to how do I become the better version of myself. It goes with what I call the eight roots of the trees, which is bodies, periods, or mind. I don’t know, no, it’s not exactly the same. Body, mind, environment, energy, protection, relation, liberation and instruction. It’s [00:10:00] something also I try to write a book. I’m still struggling just to write my book.

Craig: Writing is hard.

Sebastien: Yeah, definitely. It’s something dear to me a lot and for me Parkour is really within the mind, the body and the environment. For me everything I talk is about life and is more important than I will say Parkour. For me, it started with the idea when I started like in [00:10:30] 1989, around that with my friends to do this physical activity. I’ve got a background of traditional sport. My Dad wanted me to be a soccer player, which we say football-

Craig: Football.

Sebastien: … in Europe and to make a career with that. It was same with my brother, but we never did and I practice gymnastic. I did a lot of traditional sport before. Then I met David Bell, which was very driven.

Craig: [00:11:00] He was very driven.

Sebastien: He was really driven because he wanted to succeed and to show something to his father. That’s the first time I’d been introduced to this form of movement, natural movement called Parkour. But now I wasn’t looking for Parkour. David was, he had a goal which my goal was just to be with my friend, but at the same time I wanted to train myself to become better. [00:11:30] It was just a body aspect at this time with the physical aspect like if you watch rocky or if you watch Bruce Lee while he was training.

Your Mind, Your Body, and Your Environment

Sebastien: But of course when you starting to train your body-

Craig: Assuming there’s a calling to also work on the mind.

Sebastien: Yes, work with the mind and then after you work on your mind, and later on I started to realize my mind wasn’t strong. In my genes I’ve got some qualities based on say genes [00:12:00] physically, but the mind couldn’t keep up. That’s why I’ve got vertigo. Then there was the beauty with Parkour is got this analogy with obstacles and challenge yourself and everything and make decision and everything. But that’s where I can see I’ve got a lack of.

Craig: Through that you can see that you have a weakness, you have a hole.

Sebastien: I’ve got weakness. I keep practice parkour. Parkour bring me that. I’m getting better by practicing Parkour, but Parkour also give you a clear, [00:12:30] different view on the environment. The way how you see the environment, where you were children, when you do Parkour again, is come back again. Something like sometime I say it’s not about learning, it’s about relearning.

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How do you move forward?

Craig: Yesterday we were talking about the East Coast of the United States, which some of us call the Northeast Corridor and it tends to be very aggressive, very mechanistic, very get out of the fast lane. You’re slowing me down type of thing. [00:15:30] That presents a certain kind of challenge and then you go west where you’re going next, you go west and then things are very comfortable or there’s like a whole different vibe there. That environment that’s beyond your control, but you choose how you react to it. How do you move forward?

Sebastien: That’s it. The last one is yourself. It’s the hardest part because it’s about trusting yourself also more than that is to start to understand intuition is a sense and as well as [00:16:00] I can see, I can smell, I can taste, I can hear and I can touch. It’s only through exploring and moving from one discipline to another discipline that you can find out there is a common truth and that’s it. Then you start to tap into it because you start to realize that’s what I was looking for.

Rather it’s from aikido rather from martial art in general, a lot in Asian [00:16:30] philosophy, but also a lot within the artist. If someone is a pianist or someone guitarist like a guitar and anyone with music. We always relate it to sensitivity and feelings and it’s something normally people want to after very tangible, but feelings exist and intuition exists too. As I say, we try to find this truth. At the beginning, [00:17:00] Parkour or whatever people want to call it is literally the activity we are doing when we’re children without any founder and everything. That’s what we do.

Now we’re more mature. We just find out like this is the way of, there is an education here. Parkour is the best tool to reconnect with your body, with your mind and with your environment. That’s why I say the three ones. That’s can [00:17:30] help you to become that butterfly. I think that’s why it’s linked with freedom and that’s why people get so addicted to it.

Craig: And so excited.

Sebastien: The thing is, when you’re with the environment, basically the environment is the teacher because it’s almost like it give you some problem to solve. Some people as I say they can just go, like what I call tracking, if you go to one place to another place from [00:18:00] point a to point b is good, but a certain point, you’ve got an obstacle course. That leads you to how do I overcome that obstacles and there is different type of character. Me, when I was with my friend, my friend, they could push themselves, they could break the jump. That’s how we call it, the breaking the jump. As you’ve got kind of a very aggressive way like you say like, I command, I’m the mind, [00:18:30] I’m powerful.

Craig: I command myself, not I command you. I command myself, ready, go. We have a button for that.

Sebastien: Everything I’m saying is literally like is by yourself. You’re outside, you’re just by yourself. There is a disconnection between the mind and the body. Sometime in martial art they try to explain that. But it’s very hard if someone is in front of you and punch you in your face. For you is this is my opponent, but the beauty with Parkour, the opponent is the environment and that’s why you start to realize, “Oh my [00:19:00] God, there is something very deep there.”

It’s almost like meditation, but it’s so much in action and it’s so much in you. You come up like say something in me say I can do this jump and there is another part, “Oh my God,” and you feel stuck. As I said, there is people who can go through that through like getting pumped and everything and then break the jump. For me it never work, so I have to come up with what I call waving and the waving technique is literally get used to. It’s like instead of [00:19:30] force it, you just let it go. But you have to come regularly and practice. It’s like someone’s got fear of water and you bring them one day. They just put their feet. Just their feet.

Craig: Accustomization.

Sebastien: Accustomization.

Waiving the Jump

Craig: Do you have a French phrase for waiving the jump? What do you call that internally?

Sebastien: No, I use it in English.

Craig: You use it in English.

Sebastien: Because it’s universal. As I say with the word, because I come up with the word, so I believe someone is [00:20:00] gonna come up with a French word.

Craig: Can you unpack it a little bit more? Like can I use this technique if I’m only training once a week or like how?

Sebastien: Basically everything is linked with my concept because when I started with everyone, it was pretty organic. Everyone’s got their method and they go outside they practice. For me, I need to find like Bruce Lee say I need to find the cause of my ignorance, so I need to write it down everything. That’s why I started to do the classification within Parkour. Try to really understand what am [00:20:30] I doing and what is my problem. I come up with a lot of concept as you can see. I say talk about the mind, the body, the environment, the three major obstacles, the eight roots, which we need to master or to work on it in order to get to this idea of peace.

In my concept, I say follow the season, I’ve got a grade system, I’ve got [00:21:00] a maturity level. You see, so I keep on working on that and the waving technique is one of them because when I start to getting opportunities and I had some obstacle, some challenge to face, like people will say, okay, I want you to go in this building and doing this jump.

Craig: Jump for some consequence or-

Sebastien: Me say, “Oh my God. How am I going to do that?

Parkour Training

Sebastien: That’s also the concept of training came and the difference also between training and practice because everyone now [00:21:30] we do Parkour. Everyone train. Everyone say I’m going to go training.

Craig: Do they? I mean, a lot of people say, I’ve heard people say it to you, ’cause I’m often the fly on the wall in most things and people say to you, “I want to train with you.” There’s this little moment of maybe hesitation on your part where you look at them like that might not work so well and it’s not coming from a place of pride or hubris. Not that you don’t want to work with them, but you know that it is not gonna click.

Sebastien: Because for me, I believe without [00:22:00] being too much, I’m educated in energy. It may sounds bizarre when I say that, but because of everything I look around from Asian philosophy and everything, talking about the sun, talking about the air and like oxygenation, drink water, listen to music and everything. I’m educated with energy so I can feel my yin yang within me. When it’s time to move and when it’s time to slow down and people don’t [00:22:30] have that. Also, because also I’ve got educating in traditional sport, for me training is serious. Training is for a purpose and I only train for a big project.

Craig: Some specific goal.

Sebastien: I can train for like for a move or something, but this is not the training I’m talking about. I’m talking about the training for lifetime, like Michael Phelps, we train to win the Olympic or Roger Federer, who try to win grand slam. [00:23:00] That’s the training I’m talking about. When someone can say, “Oh, I’m training too.” No, you’re not training because you have no idea. That’s your life. You’ve got one life and you need to see the big pictures in your life and you need to direct this energy. First of all, first step you need to understand how you use that energy.

Some people they can’t go through pain, they cannot, they never been educated through that. They see blood in their knuckles, if they do like [crosstalk 00:23:28]

Craig: One [inaudible 00:23:28].

Sebastien: [00:23:30] The nose is bleeding. They think that’s the end of the world and some things, some people crying and I think it’s crying it’s over. I’m like, I don’t know, but you can cry by passion and because you’re pushing. There is a lot of stuff you need to understand, but once you understand like you can canalize this rage or whatever you call it, of passion of anger, whatever it is, it is pure energy. Then what do I do with energy? When you’re a teenager, you spend it all over the place, but when we become more mature is like [00:24:00] a arrow with a target.

Craig: An arrow.

Sebastien: An arrow, I use it with h every single time. I understand we need to use the h, but I use it anytime. So sorry guys for that. Yeah, arrow and you’ve got a target so it’s more efficient when you aim for the target. Once you know that it’s okay now, “Okay, I know how to train all my time. I can train like all week, all months, all years. But what is it for? Then when you it is okay, you stop a little bit, so again, [00:24:30] now you start to think about what do I want to do? That’s why people say I want to train with you. No, you cannot because what is your purpose? What is your goal? If we got the same goal, okay.

Craig: Maybe if our personality click we might.

Sebastien: Like American football team, they’ve got the same goal. They’d better make sure they’ve got the same goal because they’re going to be kicked out because man, you’ll just slow us down. Everyone’s goes for the same direction. From the nutrition, that’s what training is about. Nutrition, timing, [00:25:00] rest, motivation, talk-

Craig: Physicality, the whole.

Sebastien: Yeah, everything from the technique, from the mental, from the physical, everything. That’s training. That is what training is about for me.

An Alternative to Parkour Training

Craig: What’s the alternative from training? The alternative is-

Sebastien: Is practice and it’s more holistic way and doesn’t mean you don’t progress, but it’s more like for me training is hard, is not funny. Even with passion you can go through [00:25:30] it, but when it’s finished, you’re happy, when it’s finished because you achieved the goal.

Craig: Training has sacrifice, training has risk.

Sebastien: Practices is nicer. Is like with fun, it’s playfulness.

Craig: We’re not saying that practice isn’t physically grueling. Practice should be grueling. It should be physically challenging, mentally challenging. It’s the intention.

Sebastien: Yes, absolutely. But you’re not damaging your body because also, as I say, even I watched traditional sport. Yesterday I was watching the playoff, you can see. [00:26:00] I can watch, I can absolutely watch competition and everything, but I’m educated so my body, I respect it. I’m not doing that because I know after 30 years, 40 years, it’s over and I love moving. My body is my vehicle. I always say that. Your life as a road, you’re feeling as a guide your body as a vehicle. That’s that’s the ethos. That’s that’s my teaching, that’s my legacy and that’s what I live.

Even everything I say, it’s not about [00:26:30] try to argue with anyone. This is what I share is my journey is like this is where I am now. If people will need to understand, “Oh my God, you make a difference between practice and training, so when do you train.” When I had the opportunity of being in James Bond movie, trust me, I was training myself for that because I knew it will be so unbalanced the amount of work they will ask me to do. I need to prepare my body for that.

Craig: And perform on the spot, ready, go.

Sebastien: Yeah. Now there is nothing, so it’s like [00:27:00] the sword of Samurai’s like I’m not taking off every single time. I know is sharpen a little bit, now take care of it, is there ready to cut if they have to cut. But most of the time I see the curve. I try to make a nice curve instead of like really abrupt. Instead of a curve of, yeah, explain. Sorry,

Craig: Sebastian is waving his hands, drawing down. That doesn’t work in audio. You’re talking about the lines and sharp changes [00:27:30] and physical stress.

Sebastien: Yeah. Because everything is for me, that’s what I say, again, educating in energy. You need to understand everything is cycle and everything has a beginning and end. Probably not. But that’s something, you know after you’re passed away. That something we don’t need to worry yet because we’re in a lifetime here. For the moment so far there is up and down and you can see it in traditional sports. Now it’s this curve of, [00:28:00] I knew nothing and I’m in the peak of my performance to now I retire now is finish.

How can I stretch it so I can hold as long as possible and I can move? If you’re someone who like moving, I can move and I don’t have back problem, knees problem and so on and so on. When I start to understand that, because after I did the nine months working in the highest level, like it was three months in a James Bond movie, then I go straight to a six months touring with Madonna . [00:28:30] My body was completely crushed and I was crushed physically, mentally.

See, so I need to go back to that and then my discipline was even stronger because I start to embark into a journey of, “Okay, now I’m gonna take care of myself.” That’s where I am now. It’s like I talk about energy. It’s like I know now it’s cycle. I know everything. That’s why I come up with the seasonality. I say, you know what, [00:29:00] is spring and you can feel when it’s spring. As soon as you see like you can hear the birds, your entire body react to that.

You’re so happy, it’s going back. Then after you got summer time and it’s yay. That’s where you want to express yourself. That’s why call it expressing summer. Then after I call it smooth autumn because now the leaves start to fall and everything. That’s why I say usually we keep moving.

Craig: Lower impact and longer periods during the frequencies of wavelengths, the periodicity goes down and things get smoother.

Sebastien: You’ve [00:29:30] got three months, three months is very good for the tendon to recover. Very, very good. Then you can switch to it. It doesn’t mean you stop practice like Bruce Lee say, running water never grows stale. For me it’s like, “Oh, do I have to stop? Maybe not.” I’m still in experimenting phase. Everything I say is not like written in the marble.

Craig: Written in stone.

The Rider

Sebastien: You see, but I’m working on it and for me and I’m believer of what I’m doing. I’m an explorer and then as [00:30:00] I say, and then after it’s sanctuary winter is where like you can literally almost like a bear can hibernate sometime make joke about that and at least almost what I do.

Craig: That’s what I do in the winter. I have like lists of books and things in collections and cross connections and like I go into winter, like. “Aha, I got so much I need to do.” A lot of it looks like me sitting in a chair but I stand up, I move around a little bit and I sit back down. I’m taking notes and then when spring comes around you, you’re just like raring to get outside [00:30:30] and raring to start moving.

Sebastien: Sometime I can say you can do recall like, to not forget. Let’s say you’ve been in summer you’ve something. You’ve been moving quite well. There is no problem because it’s almost three months. During all time if you want to go outside and jump, there is no problem about that. But the intensity during the three months is reduced. You can imagine the impact in the body is lower. We’re not following the calendar of a traditional sport, which I respect because they choose. [00:31:00] It’s like a contract, a non-written contract about I’m on back on a journey where I’m going to sacrifice my body, but it’s for the middle. It will maybe change my life because sometimes a career literally completely-

Craig: Yeah, is built on that accomplishment.

Sebastien: It can change your life and lift you up. Then you ended up as a reporter or anything. It can be very beneficial. But it’s a choice you make. For me, I choose I want my vehicle, my body, the horse as [00:31:30] I say if I’m the covener, how do you say that? You say the other word.

Craig: The rider.

Sebastien: The rider. You see, me as the rider the guys would decide, “Okay, I respect the horse. The vi cure will bring me from point a to point b, which is a definition of Parkour. Then after you need to decide and I know, I’m in a holistic journey. That’s why I make my choice. I’m in a holistic journey. For me it’s pretty, pretty simple. That’s why most of the time I practice and I don’t [00:32:00] train, but sometimes there’s some circumstances because I’ve done a lot of stuff in my career and my life and I can have opportunity is like the ripple effect. When you throw a rock into-

Craig: A ripple effect. Sorry. I thought you said it in French. Your English is correct.

Sebastien: You see and it does something. I already did it. Even when I talk now some people will listen. It will resonate for some people and it will go back [00:32:30] to me.

Maturity System

Craig: Yes. Let’s talk about that. Some people who are listening, I’m betting, people are listening going, this is not at all what I expected you to be saying. I expect you to be talking, insert history. I find this resonates with me. I understand what you’re talking about. It makes sense to me and I know that there are people that it doesn’t resonate with. What’s going on there? Why are there some people that what you’re saying is like, “Well, that’s excellent. I need to go think about that more.” Other people are like, “What are you talking about?”

Sebastien: It’s because they’re not in demand for that. As I said there is the maturity level, [00:33:00] it doesn’t mean they’re immature. This is just where they are. It’s like a journey to become from the caterpillar to butterfly. In maturity system as I said, there is age of roots, age of fire, age of water, age of air. In between, as I say you wave and someone who’s age fire is in demand for something very particular. Someone is age of water like me is in demand for something very particular. Water talk with water, it resonate. [00:33:30] Water talk with fire,-

Craig: Probably not.

Sebastien: … probably not. Fire speak with fire. Someone I will say like it’s a phase. I used to be fire. I used to be roots. I need to because roots is like I try to understand what I’m doing. I have no idea what it is and seeking for knowledge. Age of fire, it’s like, okay, I got it. Get out of my way. Let me show you.

Craig: I have things to do. [00:34:00] Let’s go.

Sebastien: I am the one. This is kind of like this, it’s a bit caricature but this is it. Then age of water say you know what? Okay, I’ve done it for a long time. I’ve had my bruise and everything. I need to understand why I’m doing that. Then that’s where also you read more, you listen more, you’re more sensitive, you’ve got so much experience, so much. That’s what I say the stuff I say now resonate to only those who are available for that. Age of air, [00:34:30] as I say, it’s where is the let it go.

It’s just like, now I know. I won’t be here forever. It’s a fact. I can fee it. My stamina maybe is lower. My performance is lower, everything and I accept it. They don’t take part into any battle. They can make some suggestion, but they don’t take part of anything because they know is futile. That’s why it’s very linked with the meditation. Now it’s I think I always say that this is where you start to enter [00:35:00] to the other world, I would say. The stuff we don’t know, the stuff like from religion or non-religious people. It’s like you still have as an intuition, you there is something. You know and everyone can argue for hours and hours but say, no worries. You’ll sooner or later-

Craig: You will know.

Sebastien: We hope later, but you will get it. That’s where the art of let it go, that’s okay. I’ve done all my journey, long journey and now I enter to this world, [00:35:30] I start to have more wisdom. But some of the people are old but they have no wisdom. But anyway, but that’s the way.