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Just A Hunch

on innocence

photo: Bruce Fertman

Just A Hunch

Through the pressure generated between the growing head and the growing heart, the face is sculpted. Three ridges. One will become the brow, one the nose, one the chin.

Then suddenly the unfurling begins. The head floats away from the heart. Organs begin to form in newly available space. Space precedes substance. First there is nothing, then there is something.

The baby enters the world, C-shaped, one simple curve. Over the first few months, through olympian effort, the baby acquires the needed strength to lift its head and look around, gradually forming a flexible and stable cervical curve. The lumbar curve develops as the baby begins creeping and crawling, and fully establishes itself through the herculean task of learning to walk.

The head becomes the center of orientation, the pelvis the center of locomotion.

We grow, we evolve from zygote, to embryo, to fetus, to infant, to baby, to toddler, to child, to teenager, to young adult, to adult, to maturing adult, (young-old), and if lucky to very old adult, (old-old). 

Somewhere between young-old and old-old another spinal transformation begins, as natural perhaps as all the other spinal transformations. In Onsens, Japanese hot springs, I have spent hours studying the shapes of boys and men of all ages, the children with arching lower backs and rounded bellies, with soft, supple necks, their heads balancing loosely atop naturally upright spines. The young men, unbeknownst to them, but evident to me, already foreshadow how they will sit, stand, and walk as old men. And the now old men, some more, some less beginning to wilt, droop, sag.

Its as if the thoracic curve wants to re-incorporate the cervical curve into itself,  making the head, and with it the mind, the eyes, and ears orient inward, away from the outer world, toward the world of in-sight and hindsight.

Its as if the sacral curve wants to re-incorporate the lumbar curve into itself, tilting the pelvis under, making locomotion more difficult, venturing out more trying, increasing the impulse to sit, perhaps to read, perhaps to write, perhaps to listen to the stories of others, or to give counsel.

I have begun to feel the pull of my primary curves wanting to reclaim my secondary curves. Is it natural, inevitable? I dont know. Ive chosen, however, not to give in to this subtle, seductive undertow. I want my head above water. I want to continue orienting outward to the world. I want to walk onto dry land, feel the earth beneath my feet. Perhaps one of the reasons four out of five of my Alexander mentors taught into their mid to late nineties was because they knew how to feed and nourish their secondary curves. Perhaps those curves allowed their eyes to see and to care about others. Perhaps those curves provided more space for their organs, allowing for greater oxygen intake, better blood flow, good digestive motility. Perhaps those curves helped lengthen their legs under them, kept those feet firmly on the ground.

If our primary curves pull us back to the past and our secondary curves beckon us forward into the future, then having a balance between them might bring us into the present.

Yes, perhaps it was their secondary curves that kept them so vibrant, so engaged, so present, so here, here with us, for so long. 

Its just a hunch. But Im going to follow it.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hi Bruce,
    perhaps it is just that adheasions in the abdomen, due to infecctions, inflammations, surgery and/or emotional problems, cause an abdominal tension, which forces the body to curve foreward.
    Just an osteopatic thought.
    Highest regards,
    Antoine Feliksik

    January 28, 2017
  2. Chris Friedman #

    Hi Bruce,

    I really like what you have written.

    Having turned 65 this year and dealing with a partner with ALS and watching the world turn in tumult, I have begun to feel like I better understand the meaning of “having the weight of the world on our shoulders” and find myself pulling towards fetal, and then, with awareness, restoring my up. But it feels more challenging some days and I have begun to wonder where my outwardness (with which I was never heavily endowed) is retreating. In this way I relate to one possible meaning of your “hunch”. 🙂

    I am questioning where I am going as I prepare to graduate the last 3 trainees on my course in March. I have loved this course and my years teaching it, my favorite AT teaching of all, but I am not fighting to keep it going. I don’t know why.

    Dylan Thomas wrote

    The force that through the green fuse drives the flower Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees Is my destroyer. And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.

    We can consciously manage that force. That is what our work in about. Through our consciousness and principles we can redirect, as you say, maintaining our secondary curves and presence. This is the way to live, for sure, and your words help inspire me back to that balance.

    I just wanted to share thoughts, feeling into what you wrote.

    Thank you for your post.

    Best Wishes, Chris

    Chris Friedman

    Alexander Technique Training Center in Charlottesville (434) 960-8490


    January 28, 2017

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