I was asked the other day to give a conclusion to an imaginary seminar I’d just delivered to tattoo artists on the Alexander Technique.
“Thank you for coming,” I began. “I don’t think I’ve ever been around so many hardened ex-cons. Many of you already have two felonies and you’re freaking out about the three-strikes-and-you’re-out thing. So you want to learn to inhibit your criminal tendencies so you can keep on living the dream.
“Alexander Technique is a great way to inhibit habitual responses that don’t serve you. Many of you see a fresh patch of skin and you think, I gotta tap that. I gotta tattoo that. Even if I get a felony, it’ll be worth it.
“Well, think about your mother’s pure love for you. Would it truly be worth it to you to send her to the grave in tears?
“I’d give you some literature on the Technique but I get the sense that most of you can’t read. Still, if you’d like to raise your IQ ten points, you might want to study with this smart Jew.”
My presentation did not go down so well. And suddenly I felt flushed and small. It had been so amusing in my head but when the words came out of my mouth, they fell flat.
I thought my belief in myself would be so strong that I’d be immune to the reactions of others. How wrong I was! Despite the best of intentions, I felt myself shrinking and contracting for the rest of the afternoon.
Why didn’t I just say something like this? “I find that two types of people take Alexander Technique lessons. Those who want higher performance. This means actors, musicians, artists, lawyers and the like. All those who want to do things at a higher level.
“Then there are those who are so immobilized by pain that they have to get help. Their habits of use have become so destructive that ordinary life is no longer possible for them. They have no alternative but to seek news ways of doing things. They’ve hit rock bottom and they’re eager to start again.”