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Posts from the ‘Innocence’ Category

Enlightenment

Rusty The Dog

Excerpts From A Dog’s Diary

November 12,

8:00 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

9:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

9:40 am – OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!

10:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

11:30 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

12:00 noon – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

1:00 PM – OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!

4:00 PM – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

5:00 PM – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

5:30 PM – OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!

November 13

8:00 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

9:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

9:40 am – OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!

10:30 am – OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

11:30 am – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

12:00 noon – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

1:00 PM – OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!

1:30 PM – ooooooo… Bath. Bummer.

4:00 PM – OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

5:00 PM – OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

5:30 PM – OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!

 

The Riddle

photo by Bruce Fertman

The Riddle

Not in a place, not in a space,
Not a person, not a thing,
Not a ping or a pong,
Not the soundless sounding of a gong.
Not a word, surely not absurd.

Don’t look.
You’ll not come across it in a book.

Don’t seek,
And you will find,
It is not yours, not mine.

It has no foes, woes, or toes.
There – off it goes!

It hates to sit.
Does not come in a kit.
Some think it illegit.
About to quit?

It’s a zone…where you are not alone.
It’s a ball…floating through us all.
It’s a climate…of refinement.
It’s a breeze…full of ease.

It’s changeable as the weather.
Totally untethered, soft as a feather,
Like a field of heather.

Nowhere does it dwell.
It’s like a well, but without the well.
Well, well, well…impossible to tell.

It is…it is…it is.

Jiro’s Hands – The Sequel

Photo by Tada “Anchan” Akihiro

This is a video of Jiro’s hands as a child. Kind of, sort of. Actually they are the hands of Master Shuhei, my friend’s son. You must watch this video until the end, well, you’ll see why.  You will witness here how a human being actually learns how to use their hands.

When we are little we are not very coordinated. We have to learn how to sit, and stand, and walk, and  how to button a shirt, for example, as you will see here. But the good news is that, when very young, we are inherently integrated, that is, all of a piece. It’s like we are programmed not to distort ourselves. The trick is to get kids to become coordinated without losing too much of their inherent integration.

Thankfully for Shuhei, he has Anchan as a father. I had asked Anchan to make this video for my students.  Anchan picked out a few very challenging manual activities for Shuhei, and then videoed Master Shuhei.  You will see here how patient Anchan is, and how positive. Needless to say my students adored this video.

By the way, Anchan has been my student for many years, and I have been his.  He’s my photography teacher. Now Anchan also is my colleague, as are so many of my students – Alexander teachers who carry on “a tradition of originality” that begins with Mr. Alexander himself.   For 15 years Anchan has photographed, and now also videos, life at the Alexander Alliance – Germany, New Mexico, Italy, Japan, Korea. He has an exceptional eye for the work, and for catching that moment when people let go.

Jiro’s hands – The Sequel.

Late Night Thoughts

Knowledge is always about something. You can acquire it through study.

Wisdom is not the product of study. It is the child of living, suffering, and surviving.

One morning, you wake up. Your eyes open. You are seeing. Only seeing.

Wisdom is not knowing.

It’s seeing.

B.F.

Meditations on The Sensory World by Bruce Fertman

photo: Bruce Fertman

…from Chapter III  Touching Existence

It’s interesting how, for little kids, it’s sometimes natural for objects to come alive.  If you’ve raised little kids, or if you can remember back into your own childhood, there were special objects that were alive for you, or for your kids.  My daughter had a scarf she carried around everywhere, loved, and on occasion spoke to, a “mother substitute” I believe Walcot called it.  My son had a little stuffed rabbit with long ears.  Those ears definitely had feeling.  My kids were always gentle with these objects, which they loved and needed because, obviously, these objects were alive.

In his book, I and Thou, Martin Buber understands this profoundly. For Buber there are only two possibilities when it comes to relationships.  One, subject-to-object, or two, subject-to-subject.  Buber refers to the first as an I-It relationship, and to the second as an I-You relationship.  I-It relationships are utilitarian, and I-You relationships are existential, about mutual existence.

Buber goes into great depth around this simple idea.  He explains how you can be in an I-It relationship with a person. If the reason for the relationship is utilitarian, a person can turn into an It. What can this person do for me?  How can I best utilize this person?  This is not the best model for developing empathy, compassion, or kindness. But we do it a lot.  More than we might like to admit.

But, thankfully, we can also be in an I-You relationship with people, but not just with people, with anything. Of course if you are in an I-You relationship with another person, or with your beloved dog or cat, or with your blossoming apple tree in your backyard, you feel that this being is alive.  You feel their existence.  You are in their company.  The moment is primarily about being with, and less about getting anything from, or anything done.

In Japanese Tea Ceremony, Chanoyu, someone may have just prepared a bowl of tea for you. You receive the bowl into your hands, and you can sense that someone made this bowl. Maybe this bowl is 200 years old, and has been lovingly passed down in your family through the generations. They say love runs downstream. You can see where your ancestor’s lips have touched this bowl because a person trained in Tea knows there’s an exact place to drink from a tea bowl. Your lips go exactly to where their lips have been. You can feel their lips touching your lips.  You are in an I-You relationship with and through this object. You are being with this bowl beyond its utilitarian function. You touch this bowl, and literary and that means physically, you are touched by this bowl. You are communing. You are in a personal, and sacred, relationship.

It is not an overstatement to say that if you come to a felt understanding of this possibility, and you cultivate this imaginative, neurological, tactual way of relating to things, it will change your life forever.  Before Jews open a Torah, someone cradles the Torah like a baby and walks around the Temple as people sing to the Torah. People kiss their prayer shawl, then touch the Torah with the part of the shawl they just kissed. What would it feel like to pick up a book you love, like a favorite book of poems, or a spiritual text, and kiss the book before you opened it and read from it? I invite you to try that. Strangely enough, practicing this way of being in I-You relationships, with objects, trains you to be in I-You relationships with people, sometimes more than any psychological teachings could ever do.  It comes down to physical practice.

Here is my favorite quote about touching existence.

Being blind I thought I should have to go out to meet things, but I found that they came to meet me instead.  I have never had to go more than halfway, and the universe became the accomplice of all my wishes…If my fingers pressed the roundness of an apple, I didn’t know whether I was touching the apple or the apple was touching me.

As I became part of the apple, the apple became part of me. And that is how I came to understand the existence of things.

 As a child I spent hours leaning against objects and letting them lean against me. Any blind person can tell you that this exchange gives a satisfaction too deep for words…

Touching the tomatoes in the garden is surely seeing them as fully as the eye can see.  But it is more than seeing them. It is the end of living in front of things, and the beginning of living with them.

Jacques Lusseyran – from And There Was Light

 

In The Sound of the Stream – Spring/Passover/Easter Poem

In the Sound of the Stream

Have you ever been walking in the woods

hearing no sound of a stream,

and then suddenly you hear it?

Have you ever been walking for so long in the sound of the stream

that you cannot imagine how a sound

could enter and fill you so completely,

leaving no space for words, or even for the thought of a stream sounding,

until the sound, streaming through your veins sends the trees and rocks

rolling into white clouds upon a hill, as you fall back

into soft green grass staring up at the sky,

so blue, wondering

not who you are but

that you are?

B.F.

Innocent Observations – From A Man Who Only Runs When He Is Late

January 15, 2012. Kyoto. Marathon.

Unable to understand what the announcers are saying, having never watched a marathon in my life, I have only my eyes to inform me.

Heads move.  Some heads poised upon soft, supple necks, other heads with chins up, back of skulls pressed down against short, tight necks.  Some heads swinging from side to side, like metronomes, others centered, buoyant.

Shoulders move.  Some shoulders rotate and swing easily, maintaining their horizontality, others move too little or too much, one side more, the other side less, one or the other side dropping down.

Arms move.  With some notable exceptions, not too much deviation among the runners here – occasional hands and forearms that look too low or too high, an over flexed wrist here and there, varying degrees of effort in the arms.

Spines move.  Some spines more rigid than others, especially lumbar spines – when lumbar spines are tighter and compressed, the ribs become over lifted in the front, arching the body back when the runner is attempting to move forward.  It looks good, like mastheads, like those beautiful women carved heroically in front of great ships slicing through the waves, cutting through the wind, forging forward. But my guess is that runners would like to feel that gentle and powerful western wind against their backs.  Some thoracic spines over-rotate, often more to one side than the other, others thoracic spines don’t rotate quite enough.

Whole bodies move up and down.  Perhaps coming up too far off the ground between steps shortens the stride and makes impact upon landing on the front foot heavier.  Sure, a lively spring in the step must be good, but how much spring? Without some loft, without some spring there seems to be a lack of room for the knees to shoot forward and for the lower leg to make its full pendulum swing.

Bouncing like a ball is maybe not the best idea. Perhaps running more like a wheel, which some of the runners seemed to be doing, could be helpful.  Some runners appeared to be gliding along the ground, so strongly supported within their own bodies as to be ever so slightly floating forward. Less impact. More momentum.

Pelvises move.  If the spine is supple and flexible, especially in the lower back, and if the psoases are really doing their jobs, the pelvis will move, creating a gentle rippling up the spine, and a deep, clear flexion in the hip joints. The femurs will incline ever so slightly toward the midline of the body, placing the knees precisely under the hip joints, but the knees will face squarely forward in the exact direction of the feet.

Ankles move.  When the back foot seems to slightly linger and lengthen behind the runner, the ankles opens fully, (relaxed extension), as the knee is beginning to shoot forward, and slightly up, like an arrow.  The back foot then leaves the ground and for a fleeting moment that foot is falling freely, sickle-ing slightly inwards before landing upon the ground exactly how and where it wants to go.

And let’s not forget faces, those beautiful human faces, the expressions of pleasure or pain, fear or peace, effort or ease.  And the more minute details – mouths open more or less, nostrils more or less dilated, jaws tighter or looser.  The eyes, some seeing inward, preoccupied with their thoughts and dreams, with their technique, or with their pain, while other eyes are sparkling and open and seeing the world whirling by through their peripheral vision. More daylight enters the body and being, the face widens, the hint of a smile.

The best, which for me are the most functionally beautiful runners, whether they win or not, seem to exert themselves less, and enjoy themselves more.  They don’t try to run.  They are moved to run, like wild horses along the coastline, like rivers running into the sea.

Not Yours. Not Mine.

Not in a place, not in a space,
Not a person, not a thing,
Not a ping or a pong,
Not the soundless sounding of a gong.
Not a word, surely not absurd.

Don’t look.
You’ll not come across it in a book.

Don’t seek,
And you will find,
It is not yours, not mine.

It has no foes, woes, or toes.
There – off it goes!

It hates to sit.
Does not come in a kit.
Some think it illegit.
About to quit?

It’s a zone…where you are not alone.
It’s a ball…floating through us all.
It’s a climate…of refinement.
It’s a breeze…full of ease.

It’s changeable as the weather.
Totally untethered, soft as a feather,
Like a field of heather.

Nowhere does it dwell.
It’s like a well, but without the well.
Well, well, well…impossible to tell.

It is…it is…it is.

Practicing Posting

photo by anonymous hummingbird

I am at Jessica’s house and Jessica, bless her heart, is exercising extreme patience, and attempting beyond all odds to teach me how to use my very own blog.  Wish me luck.

This is me on the left, looking into my computer.  It is difficult for me because my eyes are on the side of my head and my computer screen is in front of me.  I think this is why i have such a hard time finding anything.

Will try turning my head soon and will let you know what happens.

Bruce