Resilience

August 24, 2012

noun

1 the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity

2 the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

 

I wanted to tell you about a recent event that showed me, in practical and personal terms, just how valuable these years I have spent involved with the Alexander Technique have been.  This experience was amazing.  I would not be well and healthy today were it not for this work.  I might not even be alive!

A few days ago, upon getting out of bed, I was walking down a staircase (one which I have used without accident for 31 years).  It was about 8:45 AM and the cat wanted to go out of the room.  I have a large loft and my bed is up on a very big deck, high above the lower level.  The stairs are steep and there is no railing.  Somehow, as I went down from the top step to the next one, I tripped, and in an instant, I was falling.  (You can see the layout in the photograph.)

I fell backwards and to the left, over the screen with the glass panels at the top, onto the laundry basket on top of a chest of drawers, and then bounced off that basket, splat onto the floor!

You should have seen the look on the cats face!

As I fell, time slowed way down, as if it were all happening in slow motion.  First, I realized that my neck was free; that is, I did not think to free it, I just noted it was free.  Then, I felt my cell phone fly out of my hand and I thought, “Damn it!  I will need another phone now.”  Then I felt the lower right side of my sacrum whack against what must have been the laundry basket.  Then, I felt the floor.

Never was I panicked.  I was totally calm and composed, and I noticed that I was.  I thought to myself, “Just stay there and not move at all.”  While remaining still, I slowly scanned through myself and realized that, by astonishingly good fortune, nothing was broken.  I remembered that my housekeeper was due to arrive very soon; this was a comforting thought.

Slowly, I went to all fours.  Again slowly, I got up.  I was fine, not one break.  Though I knew I would be very sore.  I went to get ice packs and I lay on my Alexander table for 20 minutes with the ice, considering what I would do for the day.  Would I be up to a train trip at 10 AM out to a horse barn to meet a pupil and see her ride?  I decided, “Yes I could,” so, off I went.  I returned later in the afternoon and taught two lessons.

I was supposed to go out Salsa dancing with a friend that evening.  I considered whether that would be wise; my back was not happy from the fall, my limbs were badly bruised, and the right side of my face and head had suffered a great blow from the fall.  We went to a movie instead.

I was very lucky, no doubt about that.  But I was also supple and free and in such a state of equilibrium in general, that I was able to be resilient; the Technique gave me the tools to cultivate this resilience and to capitalize upon it.  I was shown again how wonderful this work is.

I see so many older people who have become stiff and awkward and bent over with age in large part because of a lifetime of terrible habits of use.  Had I not invested these many years in the study and refinement of my own use, had I lacked resilience, a bad accident like this (one that could happen to any of us at any time) might have put me into a total decline.

In ending, I am reminded of a lovely man I know who studied with F.M. himself.  This man said, “Alexander taught me how to be upright, downright, forthright, and to move easily in any direction.”

Talk about facing a thing that can put you wrong and dealing with it differently!

G.B. Shaw had this to say about luck:

“Undoubtedly good and bad luck exists, but Good Luck has a habit of favoring the intelligent and turning her back upon the stupid.”  

Those railings are being installed this week!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rebekah August 29, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Oh my!! What a story! I had no idea. I am glad you are well and able to share the lessons in this. Love, Rebekah

Franis Engel December 24, 2012 at 5:12 am

A decade ago, (when I was about to turn 50,) I also experienced a fall that could have been much worse. It was in a barn, I was carrying up something bulky up (a cat) using a ladder to a second story loft when the cat jumped off my shoulders and the top of the ladder decided to slide sideways. I fell backwards,. I remember calmly and intentionally missing the work tables below. I landed full body on my hip and shoulder side, but the side of my head hit rather hard on the concrete. Fortunately, I had my phone in my pocket that still worked, so I after checking very carefully to see if there was anything broken with my neck, I called 911 while laying on my back semi-supine – mostly because it was 1:30 AM. Aside from the effects of a concussion that filled up my ear canal with swelling for a few days, I was fine – nothing broken. Now I make sure that ladders have both solid feet on level ground before I climb them and where they are going to be perched has no oil spill to slide on!

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