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Quote of the Month: September 2017

by Ellen on September 12th, 2017

“Evolution happens as each generation of living things interacts with its environment and reproduces. Lamarck got at least that part of it right. Those natural designs that survive to reproduce pass on their genes. Those that don’t successfully reproduce disappear; their genes disappear as well. It’s survival of the hang-in-there’s, or the made-the-cuts, or the just good-enoughs.”

Excerpt From Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, by Bill Nye & Corey S. Powell.

After a long break, we’re back! I apologize for dropping off the grid for so long; I was in the process of adding another miniature Stafford to the world! But now as I return from my maternity leave and begin incorporating students back into my new schedule, I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote from Bill Nye’s amazing book about evolution. My life for the first five or six weeks of my daughter’s life was hectic and sleepless, and my own use began to suffer for it. She’d only breastfeed in very specific positions that were hell on my back and shoulders, and even now she wriggles so much that it’s hard to stay released when she might fling herself out of my arms at any moment.

As I begin September and start the process of returning to work, I’ve prioritized taking some time each day to work on my own use and reconnect with Alexander’s teachings. This quote from Bill Nye has been resonating with me, specifically in the idea of ‘the hang-in-there’s, or the made-the-cuts, or the just good-enoughs.” I connect this idea to Alexander’s concept of means-whereby and end-gaining, because for me, I’ve been end-gaining about wanting to be perfect right away. My mind has been struggling with the thought that if only I could just let go, think forward and up and stay free, everything would be great. And I’ll inhibit and direct and be good for a few minutes, until the baby cries or crashes her head into my jaw and then I’m back to tensing up to protect her.

The quote above comes from the end of a chapter in which Bill Nye talks about the incremental change of evolution, and the fact that at every step along the way, the whole organism still needs to be functional. He gives the analogy of trying to change a two-wheeled push cart (you know, the kind that you sometimes see old ladies bring to the grocery store) into a bicycle, but in tiny increments, and at each step of the process the whole thing still has to function well enough as a push cart, or you’ll leave it by the side of the road and it’ll never get to be a bicycle. I’m comparing that to my experience as a new mom, where I’m trying to reincorporate my good Alexander use, but I still have to be a mom at every step. Baby still needs me to feed her every few hours, and I still have to carry her in particular ways or she’ll get upset. But I can figure out incremental ways to do those things while also maintaining my use. I don’t have to get it exactly right immediately; just keeping the process going is helping me in the long run.

So for this month, I’m channeling the bottom-up organization and incremental change of evolution and settling for being ‘just good-enough.’ If I can spare a few minutes for some constructive rest while she naps, or think about my use while pushing the stroller up our big hill, then that’s that for today and I’ve done what I can. Inhibit, direct, and hang in there.

Forward and Up! is a Pittsburgh-based private practice offering quality instruction in the Alexander Technique in a positive and supportive environment.

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