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.
It’s 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.
It’s 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 don’t know. I’ve 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.
It’s just a hunch. But I’m going to follow it.