Restraint

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Re-reading a treasured memoir discovered at Blue Hill Books years ago, I came across this quote:

By using restraint in most things I intended to be joyfully unrestrained in a few. For this was always my favorite way of doing things.’ That’s Katherine Butler Hathaway, in The Little Locksmith, describing the budgeting of expenses for her 1920 home renovation in Castine, Maine.

Restraint. Highly esteemed by the Alexander Technique community, to ‘restrain‘ is to ‘hold back from action.’  This is the very definition of the Alexandrian principle of Inhibition. We pause, we stop, we refrain. Working with what we have—-whether it be  pandemic restrictions, or a limited budget, we pause to consider the possibilities and then act.

Hathaway’s other projects included painting and writing: ‘I could never work with great spirit in any material unless I knew that the amount of it was limited–I had to be hedged in by a boundary of either space or material, in order to awaken the feeling of creative excitement.’ 

We are most certainlyhedged in‘ due to circumstances not of our own making. But I do choose boundaries, and they bear creative fruit; the 250-word-count of the weekly blog posts, for instance. Observing word count limitations contributes to clarity and cleaner prose. Another example–with fewer trips to the grocery, meals are created from what is at hand. The results are often delicious.

Within the boundaries of your present-day life, I am wishing you well, and hoping for you ‘creative excitement‘ in the midst of  limitation and restraint–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold Coffee

 

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Not to be confused with iced coffee. That beverage is on purpose. Cold coffee is not. Looking up from Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, I see my cuppa, sitting forlornly on the end table, cold yet again, having been warmed up not once, but twice. ‘Words will do that,’ I say to myself, Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s words in particular. Love this quirky memoir. 

Published 14 years ago, it’s one of those titles that came to my attention when first out, and then got lost in the shuffle of too-much-too-many. Books that is. But the book found me, as books often do. I have learned to rely on this mysterious phenomenon,  knowing that an oh-so-special book will appear when needed.

And then this: padding around the studio, returning chairs to their places, picking up anatomy tomes from the floor, tidying up after last evening’s Alexander Technique student, I linger at the poetry shelf, pulling out Jane Kenyon’s Collected Poems, opening randomly to:

Like a mad red brain 

the involute rhubarb leaf 

thinks its way up 

through loam.’

A fitting conclusion to an Alexander Technique lesson, yes? Plants are ‘thinking their way up’ all over the place right now, inspiration for us to do the same.

Wishing for you good words in a good book, good enough to cause your coffee to go cold—