Sleeping on Sandwiches - Day 16
The Posture Police Blotter was on hiatus for awhile and I've revived it with a daily blog that is running from June 20 through September 22. This daily edition has a different focus to it and the gem in all of this is that what I'm going to be writing and what I've written about posture and the Alexander Technique are all related. Follow along and learn how!
Organization Outside and In
"Day" 16 is really entry 16. I missed a few days as I continue to work on transforming my apartment into a more liveable space for myself and my family. I've blocked off chunks of time for several weeks to stay home and work on this vast project
In my most recent post, I spoke about sorting through boxes that I hadn't touched in several years and uncovering parts of my past, which was a dizzying experience. I always find going through old stuff to bring about a sense of nostalgia, anxiety, and depression, punctuated by moments of gratitude for the opportunity to remember place, events, projects, and objects. I've found that since I was a child that nostalgic thoughts are gut-wrenching. I also have a difficult time throwing things away. It feels a bit like I'm tossing out a piece of myself. On one hand, I'll tell myself that I don't need to keep something that I haven't even looked at or thought about in five years that will take up precious space in my apartment. On the other hand, I'll worry that I'll forget all about said thing if I don't keep it so that I can come across it again at some point in the future. This internal debate with myself tends to slow me down. I nonetheless managed to condense/dispose of the contents of six boxes so that it all fit into one cabinet, with only one "miscellaneous" folder. What if everything doesn't fit into a category? If you create a miscellaneous folder, drawer, etc, then how will you remember what's in there?
On the topic of drawers, they are not my organizational system of choice. I much prefer shelves so that I can stack everything within my view. Put something in a drawer and it's out of sight and out of mind. For a period of time, I did administrative work for someone who kept all of his files in stacks atop several desks and tables in his office. Most of the drawers were empty. The stacks were meticulously neat and very high and it didn't strike me as an odd choice at all. I suppose I take after my father who leaves everything out and in piles (very cluttered versions of piles). I recall my mother organizing some papers for me when I was a child. She sorted a pile of papers into several large manila envelopes and stacked them one on top of the other in a drawer. I found her system counter to my tendancies and was frustrated each time I looked for something in that drawer.
Last night I was listening to NPR as I unpacked and washed dishes. There was a segment on a new movement in New York City to create very small studio apartments. I recalled when I lived in Paris about 10 years ago and for about a year of my time there, I lived in a very small apartment. The bed, folded out, took up all of one room. The armoir was in the tiny kitchen and the shower had to be put together each time it was used. The bathroom floor had grates and a drain. Two glass shower walls unfolded from the bathroom wall to make the side of the shower and a curtain pulled in front of the bathroom door. The ceiling in the apartment was so low that I would bump it when lifting my arms to put on a sweater and one of my very tall friends had to stand between the wooden beams so that his head wouldn't touch it. Despite the size of the space (and perhaps due to it), I managed to organize things very well mainly due to the abundance of floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves. My resistance to putting things away and my desire to stack things where I can see them was well accommodated by this set-up.
Here's where we get to the Alexander Technique in this story. When I'm teaching, I help a student to have a new, more efficient kinesthetic experience in their body. The student is an active participant in this process, but they often require more information in order to understand how to get this new experience to happen on their own and it involves engaging their thinking with their body. This is something that they are already doing, but relatively unconsciously. It's my job to help them find the tools that are right for them to elicit the changes. I give everyone the same basic instructions, but as I begin to understand more about how the student thinks and how they tend to map their body in their mind, I have clues as to how to tailor the instructions to fit them. If someone organizes a room in your home for you, you might have a difficult time making sense of how they organized it. I help people to get organized within themselves and to empower them to do maintain it on their own. It involves a certain amount of understanding of how they think, so that they can metaphorically avoid an experience similar to mine of digging through envelopes in a drawer that someone else organized for me.