I made a commitment to myself that I would try and write a blog a day for the month of May.
Yesterday it didn’t happen. I was preparing to go away for the night, then went out to work, got an early train then realised I didn’t have my login details so couldn’t write the post remotely as planned, so made peace with No Blog that day.
Today I was away this morning and working 6 straight hours. I travelled back on a hot, crowded train which was Friday-afternoon-busy and one-carriage-short. Standing room only amidst smells of people drinking, people sleeping amidst their empty beer cans, no fresh air, shoulder to shoulder with people, sleeping people at my feet and hot (did I say that already?)
I’ve reheated a lovely veggie curry and set down to my 2 hour class I attend in a world-wide classroom each week on the topic of Leadership and nonviolence.
All this to say, I’m tired and want to go to bed. AND I want to write and keep my commitment I made to myself. I made this commitment to work out what it is I observe in life, to find my voice, to see what I’m interested in, to find what is useful and to express myself in an uncensored way, not trying to please you, whilst very much keeping you, the reader, in mind and how I might best communicate my passion for self-care, self-connection, and self-liberation in ways which I hope contribute to your learning and self-care.
As I write I notice I have more energy and, for now, sleep has gone into the background. I’m not suppressing it, I fully acknowledge it, and it has receded as I’m more in tune with my desire to express and explore.
So the train experience was quite intense. Its not the first time I’ve done this commute on a Friday afternoon and found myself hot, tired, in a crowded space, standing. I know I made various choices along the way so take responsibility for my part in this situation.
I decided not to run for an earlier train, but connect with a colleague, settle my room hire bill promptly, have a chat with the man on reception to the building, and stock up on stationery at a local shop I know near where I work in Manchester. So I made a set of decisions that meant I’d be on the later commuter train (which in the last 3 years of commuting has more often than not been ‘one carriage short’).
When I saw how many people were in the train and waiting on the platform wanting to get on, I looked up the next train and wondered about waiting for that one. I chose to stay as I was hungry and wanted to eat dinner at home before attending the class (honouring my commitment to this class).
I then chose where to stand, within a limited range of choices, so that I would be in the corridor with bags more than amid the seats and more people. This seemed easier for my energy and I found a flat wall to lean on. I put my bags down on the floor, got my feet underneath me and played about with my balance: standing on two feet without holding on, standing and holding on, leaning and not holding on, etc
This part was quite fun as I got to play with the variations, choosing not to get fixed in any one place and actively balance as the train chugged along. Its a beautiful journey through the Hope Valley, however, I could only see a small slither of green between people when I looked out of the window. I am grateful to see some verdant green grass, and have good enough eyesight to enjoy all that I can see.
I had a book with me, one of my son’s adventure stories which I’d missed out on finishing with him as he reads so much to himself nowadays. I love reading a simple, well written adventure story. So many books I read nowadays are self-development books, this was a welcome break. So I worked with the choices I had about how to manage myself as I read. I allowed myself to rest into the support from under my feet, and the wall at my back, topping up my thoughts for a full and healthy, springy spine whilst I held my book high in front of my face. Ah this feels good, a strong elastic spine, arms supported by my whole torso and arms light and free.
At one point the sleeping person at my feet moved and her leg fell against the back of one knee. Ha! That was interesting, I noticed my knee bend suddenly, however I didn’t fall or buckle, I kept standing tall and easy, both feet stayed on the floor, and just that one knee bent. Once her leg had moved, my leg straightened again, without me needing to ‘do’ much, if anything.
It was hot, so I had a good drink, but didn’t get hot and bothered. I was well aware of being hotter than I liked, but it wasn’t a drama, just an interesting sensation. I didn’t add to the sensation with thoughts about ‘this is rubbish’ or ‘I’m too hot’ or ‘if only’. I decided to be with the sensations and allow them to register and neither fight them or feed them. I could make peace with the discomfort I experienced.
I was happy to get off the train after an hour and enjoy the fresh air, a chat with another parent I met off the same train and head home in the late afternoon sunshine. I feel so lucky to do this beautiful commute once a fortnight, and glad its not daily. I feel grateful for my tools and skills of small and on-going choices and self-responsibility. I am grateful I had my car waiting nearby to take me home for a shower. I am grateful for my neighbours who look after my cat whilst I was away. I am grateful for so many small and meaningful details in my life.
I’m glad I decided to write. And now that I’ve explored and expressed something of meaning to me, my sleepiness returns. I am free to choose sleep now.
Lucy Ascham is an Alexander Technique teacher who works in 3 different venues in 2 cities.