‘Here we are, all together as we sing our song, joyfully. Here we are, all together as we hope we’ll always be.’
The summer we were married (1981!), Mike and I lived on South Georgia’s Koinonia Farm, working as interns. Each and every community lunch began with the singing of ‘Here We Are.’ It has been an ear worm these past many days. Confined to home and hearth, I practice being present to Mike, to my students now online, listening for spring bird song, appreciating the breeze on my face.
But the lureof my devices! The world wide web calls my name, and I answer. Stay informed? Yes. Repeatedly watch the video of the New York hospital hallways? No. And this is where the Alexander Technique practice of Inhibition comes in. Pause. Stop. And when ‘called away’* by yet another news feed, another heart-rending headline, make a choice.
Here we are. All together.
(*today’s posting inspired by a phrase from Lynn Levin’s poem, ‘Song of My Cell Phone,’ ‘Called away. I am always called away…’)
Looking for an inspiring read? Here’s my pick: The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Meticulously researched, but reading like a suspense novel, Daniel James Brown weaves a gripping tale of the working-class boys from Washington State who made history at the 1936 Olympics.
Here’s a timely excerpt: George Yeoman Pocock, builder of boats, giving advice to one of ‘the boys’:
‘He told Joe that there were times when Joe seemed to think he was the only fellow in the boat, as if it was up to him to row the boat across the finish line all by himself. When a man rowed like that, he said, he was bound to attack the water rather than to work with it, and worse, he was bound not to let his crew help him row.’
Fellow boatmates,we can row these choppy waters. Together.
*Local Prologue Bookshop owner, Dan Brewster, welcomes online orders. Two books and a jigsaw puzzle arrived a few days ago, along with a cheering note from his staff. If Brown’s book is not in stock, I’m sure Dan can get it ordered for you.
OSU online classes begin next Monday. Over the weekend, I greatly appreciated colleagues Mio Morales and Jennifer Roig-Francoli, who hosted webinars for those of us who are new to online instruction. With 96 in attendance, an international gathering of Alexander Technique teachers, it was a heart-warming time to provide each other support, mostly by simply being present to one another.
How isyour life changing? Write and let me know.
Be safe. Be well——I’ll close with a few words sent to my students last week: ‘I am holding you in my AT-teacher-hands, with gentle guidance at the meeting of head and spine. Give yourself a moment for returning to ease and freedom.’
Select one and allow it speak to you. Less is more. This list consists of words I find myself using when teaching the Alexander Technique. The less I say, the better. Pausing helps to keep me from talking too much. Students have their own discoveries to make.
Less is more. It’s a practice to embracein everyday life. Less furniture means more space. One can settle into the surroundings with peace. Less household spending permits more funds for travel. Less indulgence of sweets means a healthier regardfor the digestive system.
One word only. Choose yours and live with it for a day, receiving its gifts.
Choices. They are made countless times each day. When to get up, what to wear, make the coffee or purchase on the way? And then there are the big choices, a life partner, for example. I chose one 38 years ago, and continue choosing him every day.
The practiceof the Alexander Technique is all about choice. We get to choose. We are not automatons, although it sure can feel that way as we plod through the waning days of winter. Try‘The Procedure,’ an alternative to the trudging habit:
ChooseSelf-Awareness. (Feet on floor. Head on spine. Where am I possibly tense?)
Choose to Pause. (Often the Pause is enough. Mind/body re-organize. Just stop the habit, whatever it is. Trudging, maybe?)
Choose to Direct. (‘My neck is free.’ Or, ‘I allow my head to move forward and up.‘)
Spring ison the way. On Sunday morning’s farm walk with Mike, I heard a spring song from a warbler along the west fence row. Add a little AT thinking to your next stroll, and you will find your Self in springtime before you know it—-
Guestsof the Gallipolis, Ohio Our House Tavern often slept sideways on the feather mattresses to fit multiple guests in a bed. One room for women, one for men. The second floor ballroom was several times larger than either sleeping room, indicating that in the era of this hostelry (1820-1860’s), spacious rooms for dancing were of more value than large rooms for sleeping.
How times do change. Walking the wide-planked hallway, I considered the conviviality required to share a sleeping room with other travelers, and the experience, unusual today, of dancing, dining, and yes, snoring, next to a fellow guest.
Thank you Phyllis, for scheduling a tour. And thanks to Beverly and Becky, dedicated docents, who regaled us with historical facts and tantalizing ghost stories. My own encounter with Our House ghosts occurred 50 years ago, while touring the site with my cousin, Billy Sue. Ever since, I’ve been respectful of those who linger, fleeing the tavern with skin crawling and a racing heart. There may have been some shrieking. I’ll say no more. Those former residents and guests must be missing their dancing days, is all I can say.
Dance. We are here. This is our moment to breathe, to live. Don’t squander it. Twirl a bit. Have a spin. Enjoy life in a body while you have one. It’s a short stay—–
‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.’
The first written record of this adage is found in an 1840 Thomas H. Palmer Teacher’sManual. It was popularized in song lyrics by British writer, W. E. Hickson (1803-1870). OSU Alexander Technique students were asked to re-write this time-honored advice, with Mr. Alexander’s principles and practices in mind.