Growing up, my brother and I endured crucial life lessons painstakingly (and repeatedly) taught by our father:
how many sheets of toilet paper were appropriate according to the business at hand
how to shut car doors, sliding glass doors, refrigerator doors and drawers
how to open cabinet doors without stressing the hinge
how to change a flat tire and how to drive a standard transmission vehicle without grinding the gears when shifting
Though Dad would never say it this way, he was really teaching us how to partner. How to coordinate our action with the way something was designed to function. Because when we didn't, it either did harm to us or to the object.
Growing up, I was surrounded by people who worked with their hands. Makers: woodworkers, mechanics, bricklayers, gardeners, bakers… When something needed doing, it usually got done without hiring someone else to do it. Frugality. Perhaps pride. But more, deep curiosity and a conscious habit towards taking responsibility for knowing how something works. By example, I was taught to ask questions and get it done myself… except for plumbing. Apparently my elders admitted to select limitations.
Years later, I still find home in working with my hands on a project. In the kitchen or studio, it’s a gateway to clarity and mind/body oneness.
So it’s no wonder that recently, I’ve been digging into the idea of original design. How I coordinate with the way my body is built to function in patterns of every day living. Since master teachers accelerate the learning process, I’ve contacted Cathy Madden, a former prof & certified teacher of the Alexander Technique (“…the actual functioning of the body under the ordinary conditions of living, in a way which achieves optimum and efficient performance … raising the standard of health and well-being…”)
And one of the things I’m learning is how often I work in opposition to my actual structure – which results in fatigue, pain or discomfort. Usually it’s a very simple unnecessary tightening that will shift my entire body into doing something in a way that is counter to the most efficient way to do the task. This, of course, then asks other muscles to step in and work in ways they weren’t necessarily designed to work.
Kind of like when I used to pull down and swing the cabinet door as I pondered which particular treat in the pantry would satisfy my craving... Asking metal to work in opposition to the way it’s built best to operate, stresses the hinge and over time, the door will hang at a funky angle or not properly shut.
Just like my dad used to warn…
It makes perfect sense our bodies would operate in a similar way.
Putting things together…