Flush it, press it, wait for it

22 days ago I committed myself to daily blogging. I went through three phases, which I just now named „flush it”, „press it”, and „wait for it”. It reminds me of something I read recently, something about the process of learning:

„The biological prerequisite for the process of seeing is the readiness to receive the light, the willingness to acknowledge fluctuations in brightness, and not actively looking at the objects and trying hard to analyse them.” – Heinrich Jacoby, Beyond gifted and untalented.

Flush it. The beginning was the easiest part. I hadn’t blogged for over a decade, and the first couple of posts where just like opening a valve. The thoughts came pouring out, as soon as I let them.

Press it. After the first 15 or so posts (one every day) the pressure was gone, and thoughts began to drip rather than to flow. I had to search for something relevant enough for me to write about. And for the next 5 days I felt pressure by my own commitment to myself. Every day a bit more.

Wait for it. Then something changed. The pressure of having to write something every day annoyed me, and I said to myself, „Well, I’m not getting paid for this anyways. And since I didn’t install any tracking software, I don’t even know if anyone is reading this. So I could just as well stop.”

I’m in this third phase now (if it is a phase). And this mindset feels oddly liberating. I do not squint. I do not pressure my self. I’m merely receptive for thoughts to appear. And I do enjoy the process of writing something down.

Writing a blog is a funny sort of thing. There’s no „sleep over it”, no „Day 2” to correct and improve the post. There’s no „re-read it a week later and see what survives”. I work on a post, re-read it on the spot, and when it’s posted it’s posted.

Who would I have been?

Lately I often wonder who I would have been if I had had more money. What if I had grown up in an environment that would have better supported my development? What if I had met people with whom I could have built something. Or maybe I did meet them, but what if I had acknowledged these encounters and jumped in with both feet? Or what if, what if I had pursued a line of business that had monetisation in its center, rather than meaning? Or a business that had both? What if I had invested just a little bit, a couple of hundreds, in Apple, or Microsoft, or Oracle, or Bitcoin, when I first heard about these things?

I wonder what projects I would have created? What communities I would have built? And what I would have contributed to all of humankind?

I also wonder what kind of house I would have bought, and where I would have lived. Which place would I have chosen on this Earth? How would my garden have looked like? What furniture would I have bought, and what art would I have had around me? What people would I have met, and whom would I have married?

What if this? What if that? What if? What if?

Who else feels light at night?

I know of several people who seem to be more at ease at night. They seem to enjoy themselves more, seem to feel saver, less pressured. I’m actually one of them.

I always thought that’s because most people around me are off from work at night. The pressure from the collective mind, the human morphogenetic field, is missing. Permission to enjoy the free time. And all that.

But there might be something else at work, or better, off work: solar pressure. Light from the sun is not merely radiation, but exerts pressure on matter.

„For example had the effects of the sun’s radiation pressure on the spacecraft of the Viking program been ignored, the spacecraft would have missed Mars’ orbit by about 15,000 km (9,300 mi)”, to quote Wikipedia.

Maybe down here on our planet’s surface we can feel that solar radiation pressure too. And when it’s absent, we feel more at ease. But then, after a while, we need it again. In fact, maybe we might only feel at ease at night if we had enough pressure from our sun that day. Or at any some days before.

A beating heart

My plant grew strongly slanted to one side. I’m wondering what made my plant do this. The environment, the light? Or the way I put it into its new pot? Or maybe, is it its character? Would any other plant – of the same variety – do the same?

„The way we think of ourselves, and thus the way we act, the way we eat, drink, walk, sleep, make love, is conditioned in varying degree by three factors: heritage, education, and self-education.” – said Moshé Feldenkrais (I paraphrased).

I could turn the pot around, and watch what my plant would think about that. Is it a plant that seeks the light? Is it a plant that is strong willed, not easily discouraged? Ready, again, to change directions? Does a plant think about itself? And if it does, does its self-image govern its every act? Or is this just a thing we mammals, and more broadly speaking we species with a beating heart and nervous system, do?

What are you /ˈθ/inking about?

Writing a blog post is a funny sort of thing. Throughout the day I scout for relevant, meaningful, communicable thoughts. Now I wonder: what is the style of my blog? Should it be personal stories? Professional information? Or about my creative process as a somatic movement teacher?

All the while I know that – first of all – this is a practice for myself rather than for anyone else – and secondly – every day, the moment I start to write, all my planing and scouting falls to pieces. Right from its start, the blog post develops a life on its own, and demands to be treated as such.

Strangely, the writing always brings forth things that I have not planed to write at all. Does it bring forth things that were hidden? Or things that were actively in hiding? Now drawn to light through the process of writing? How much is hidden inside of me then? And where else is it coming from? The Internet? My immediate environment? Or, does it bring forth things that are inside of you, who is reading this? Is there a magical connection between you and me, some sort of beautiful, quantum mechanic interminglement that casts life into these posts?

Or is writing more like embodied thinking? Conscious and active. A cognitive process that makes new connections and creates meaning? An internal conversation between different perspectives, a give-and-take between mind and „paper”, resulting in an etched out flight of diction, that now lies prey to being read by anyone who stumbles upon it?

It is a funny sort of thing. A strange thing. Delightful, too. More again tomorrow.

Which words catch and which don’t?

I’m flipping through stacks of books lately. All epub and pdf. Some I keep, some I drop.

I stopped holding back my bright, yellow marker. Books aren’t shared anymore. Everyone downloads fresh ones. Now I highlight a lot. I can feel very clearly which thoughts attract me, and which don’t. I’m quick to judge: „Oh that’s well written”, „Oh that’s boring.”

Never before have I tossed a book into a trashcan. Now it’s a simple press of command+delete and it’s gone. „Good bye book, I won’t miss you.”

But if needed, I could download it again.

I seem to know what I like, and what I don’t. How can I be so certain? I’ve hardly ever felt so certain before. I’m surprised about myself.

Movements have become a fetish

„Reading instruction from Greek and Roman times has focused on letters and sounds, despite continual efforts by critics to emphasize the vital role of meaning in reading and to demonstrate that letters play only a small, redundant, and often confusing part. Letters have become a fetish.” – Frank Smith, from the book Understanding Reading

A lot of research has happened in the past 50 years or so. And a lot of brilliant educators worked and thought hard about the necessary conditions for human learning and development.

„Movement” still lacks behind, as predicted by Moshé Feldenkrais. The closer something is to ourselves, the more difficult it is to grasp and handle. Movement seems to be even more elusive than speech and reading.

But for me, in my search for meaning, understanding and inspiration, the science of reading and teaching is close enough. I find it highly fascinating, and a lot can be learned and transposed into the field of movement.

Ultimately, movement is not about flexion and extension, not about hip flexibility and not about core strength. This is just the fetish.

Flexibility isn’t everything

Movement learning and apprehension, like the English weather, requires an appreciation of subtle changes and understated nuances, rather than a vulgar obsession with mere strength and range of motion.

Make it a conversation

With 17 I had a skiing accident. My first session at the Physical Therapist took barely 20 minutes. The therapist was cute. That’s the best I can say about the whole thing. She was neatly dressed in white, had great skin, a scent of vanilla. The session itself felt like I’m being processed in a factory. Afterwards the receptionist gave me a sheet of paper with exercises on it. Black and white Xerox. Hardly recognisable photos. 6 of them. Only one of the exercises was something the therapist did with me. Barely any text. Gladly. Because the text was not helpful at all.

My thoughts back then: „So here we have exercises so dumb that it only requires a few badly xeroxed fotos to explain them.

A conversation-based therapy session is different. In a conversation one human guides another human through a series of movements, concepts, ideas. Asks questions. Responds, thinks, suggests, replies. At times broad, at times specific. At times vague, at times direct. A good conversation respects both viewpoints, the therapist’s and the client’s. A therapy session can be a conversation. A text can lead to a conversation.