Potholes

I once watched a client stand up after a Feldenkrais lesson and proceed to bend himself into a shape rather like a pretzel. I asked what he was doing and he told me that he was trying to see if I had "fixed his pain."

As I watched him search for pain, I thought of a way to explain why I didn’t think such contortions were useful (stifling the impulse to shout, "Waaiiit!"). I asked him to imagine his previous discomfort as rough spots on a roadway. I suggested that contrary to his expectations, I hadn’t smoothed out that road – I had shown him there was another one he could take instead.

I also explained that the old road was still there; very familiar, and therefore attractive. It is so much easier to follow habits than to change them! (Ask anyone who has been asked – more than once, usually – to "Sit up straight!"). My client would have been better off to quietly explore the new sense of himself acquired through the lesson. Doing so would help him (consciously or unconsciously) to understand how this new possibility differed from the old, and how to recognize it. Having choice allows for change. If we don’t have a choice, we are stuck with the "same old, same old."

After this experience, you can imagine how delighted I was to come upon the following poem. It has similar imagery, and strongly echoes the TTouch and Feldenkrais work, with concepts of awareness, responsibility, choices and coping strategies. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Autobiography in Five Chapters
by Portia Nelson (1920 -2001)

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost .... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit ... but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

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