Saturday, 27 July 2013

Breadcrumbs...or, I don't know Who I Am

More than a month ago I posted a blog identifying the impossibility of knowing what's coming next. I've been feeling lately how impossible it is to know what I've left behind... not what I've lost, but the trail of breadcrumbs I dropped all along, that are now re-appearing in a transformed way.
The signs are getting bigger. I stopped making pottery seven years ago, and people still comment that they enjoy their daily coffee in a cup I made. Okay, cups are physical and practical, nice to hear that something I brought to life continues to have meaning and provide pleasure.
But signs of invisible imprints are now showing up. Ten days ago I attended another Alexander Technique conference (third one this year!). At the morning gathering I recognized two people who had taken a few lessons with me last summer. One is now in teacher training, and the other is also looking to train. Training is a big commitment -- three years -- and I feel a deep appreciation for whatever came through me that gave them both the insight of "hey, I want to do this, too!"

Later that week a friend awaiting knee surgery told me that applying a suggestion I'd offered a year ago on a steep mountain trail -- to let his eyes guide the movement forward, and trust his feet to find just the right footing -- is one of the few things that relieves his pain. Wow. Something I said is still helping. That's some kinda breadcrumb!!
Finally, yesterday I caught up with a friend from my days in California. It is quite a wake-up call to my sense of self to have a highly respected and successful San Francisco executive of an international company tell me that he learned from ME how to manage his money. He went from renting a teeny apartment and routinely overdrawing his bank account to owning a duplex in the City, in just four years. -- What ?!?! His testimonial confounds my own beliefs of not knowing enough about making and managing money.
So today, I am sitting with the insight that I have no idea the effect I have on people. There are times when I doubt my ability to be and offer what I dream of being and offering, and yet evidence to the contrary has been raining down on me. I am amazed to contemplate the reality that I can help someone else grow in ways I myself aspire to.
That perhaps other people know, more than I, Who I Am. And they're worth listening to.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Plunging in

I had the luxury of spending nearly all of yesterday with one of my favorite people, my friend Melanie. We went to Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway to hike and swim in the waterfalls. Although the morning was clear, it started drizzling not long after we arrived and had started toward Upper Falls. We ducked under a bridge and spent the better part of an hour watching the rain and singing (told you she's awesome!). Two new songs I learned have been going through my head all day, in addition to new ideas born of our conversations.
I shared with Melanie that I've been studying a 1923 book by F.M. Alexander, Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual. F.M. proposes a "plan of education" that will "not only meet the needs of the human creature at the present stage of his evolution, but will also meet his future needs, as he passes from this present stage of subconscious guidance and control through the progressive evolutionary stages which lead to a higher and still higher state of civilization." A lofty proposition! But, ninety years after this book was published, his ideas are still cutting-edge.
F.M.'s main concern is with establishing a method of education that will enable us to keep learning, growing, expanding. He criticizes the division of mind and body, as well as methods (in education and physical fitness) that attempt to improve one without considering the other. He proposes that only a comprehensive approach to mind-body coordination, aiming for general rather than specific improvement, will enable us to evolve. The measure of success for any method of education or improvement is simply whether or not it continues to make us able to receive and assimilate new experiences.
F.M. describes four points to consider in measuring human advancement: 1) the degree to which we recognize that whatever errors or failings we perceive are the result of mistaken understanding on our own part; 2) our ability to thoughtfully consider a "new and expanding" idea, find it better than what we've been believing, and feel desire to step into the experiences that are associated with the new idea -- as well as the new self that can absorb these new experiences; 3) our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing environment in a way that benefits (and does not harm) us; and 4) being able to "hold in abeyance the fear of giving up [a] job, in whatever profession, trade, or calling this may be, and boldly to make the necessary change" if we have, in fact, realized that the old understanding does not serve us, and to adjust ourselves to accept and assimilate new knowledge while proceeding with our job.
I've been considering these points deeply. Can I hold my fear in abeyance as I examine the manifestations of my life, genuinely question the beliefs that led to those manifestations, wonder and get excited about what new experiences I might have -- and who I might be -- with other beliefs, and allow myself to adapt to new thoughts and changes in circumstance? Am I willing to give up what I think I know (about myself, about life), such that I am open to having new experiences -- and BEING the person who would have those new experiences?
As the rain diminished, Melanie and I hiked back toward the parking lot and continued on to Lower Falls. The rain had cleared everybody out, and we had the entire lovely scene to ourselves (for about 5 minutes!). Did I mention that there's been something like 15 inches of rain in the past month? Translation: lots of rain makes the water positively *i*c*y*. I'd dipped my feet in the river when we'd first arrived, and pronounced the water "shockingly cold". But something moved me... and I stood at the edge of the pool below the falls for several minutes, patiently contemplating the inevitable. (Do you know that endless moment of not-quite-yet, waiting for "now" to come upon you?)
I waited, and then it came. SPLASH!!! In I went and out I climbed, breathless and thrilled. Then in, again! Six times total. Trembling and exultant, I stretched my arms toward the falls in a wide-open Thank You.
What had me jump in? I turned my gaze to the sky and declared, I am WILLING to dive into the places I've been hesitant and afraid, the new experiences and new me that are outside my current beliefs. See me now, meet me: I surrender!

Monday, 15 July 2013

It ain't over!

Backyard woods

I've been back in Asheville almost two weeks; and back in the States for three. Talk about recalibration! Re-entry from a transformative experience always seems to involve some awkwardness before a new kind of "settled" appears, and this occasion is no different. In some respects 3+ months is not that long to be away, but whole new worlds now seem open and appealing to me.

Along the drive home

At the same time that I'm now entertaining notions of living and studying in a bigger world, I've wanted to bring back to Asheville my "visitor" eyes; to remember to regard this beautiful town and region with the same wonder and appreciation I felt for those places I'd never before seen. (Not so hard, as Ashevillians know: We live where other people dream of visiting! Sensual wisps of smokey clouds linger in the crevices of lush tree-covered mountains, magical lightning bugs flash in rhythm across rolling meadows, the La Zoom comedy tour bus honks as arms wave from its windows, farmer's markets celebrate fat blackberries, spaceship-shaped squash, local goat cheese, and the best bread this side of the Atlantic.)

Downtown corner

Nearly a year ago I created this vision board (below) with my friend Emily. (It helps to have someone else bring over great magazines!) I see pieces of so many experiences reflected in these images: architecture, edges, vistas, flowers, trees, fancy meals, grace.

Vision board

Hints on what's got my attention now:

Language, linguistics, attitudes expressed in speech, how we use our bodies to language -- and how language uses us, what occurs in the mind and body as possible and how we orient ourselves, how we conceive-conceptualize-coordinate ideas and action...

I'll be writing more. Thanks for staying tuned :-)