Monday, January 19, 2009

But it was just a tiny fire. . .

Sometimes, the unexpected happens.

Saturday morning, during our weekend "Brain Spa" event, the guests were engrossed in the morning activity. Casually, Vanessa looked up and said, "Does it smell kind of smoky to anybody else?"

You can imagine what happened next.

It was a cold morning, and the space heaters were on, so we stopped and sniffed. I remembered that a ceramicist had a studio next door -- might it be her wood-fired kiln? Suddenly, we heard banging on the front door. A man and woman opened the door and came in. "You guys have to get out of here! There's a fire upstairs! We've called the fire department! Get out now!"

As we stopped what we were doing, we grabbed whatever we could carry on the way out as the sirens screamed in the distance. The Houston fire department was on the scene in about two minutes -- outstanding. Neighbors gathered, additional units arrived, all watched the billowing smoke from the residence whose tenant was away on holiday. We heard later that the fire was something electrical, from the air conditioning system, but they are still investigating. The fire fighters clambered up ladders, onto the roof, onto the balcony. The fire was quickly extinguished. Luckily, nobody was hurt, although one unit certainly sustained some damage.

That was a little more excitement than we had planned for a relaxing day of Feldenkrais movements and cognitive "rebooting." However, everyone adapted to the situation at hand. Why are some people successful at adapting to current conditions, and others aren't?

Life doesn't always go along smoothly, and things don't always turn out exactly the way you planned. It is simultaneously true that humans need a secure, safe environment within which to grow and thrive; and that humans who are sheltered from life's realities are ill-equipped to deal with them when they arise. It's as if all those little "bumps in the road" serve to give us practice in the business of survival and creating quality in our lives. You can either give up, or adapt and go on.

So, standing out in the parking lot, watching the fire trucks, the smoke, and the work in progress, we made our plan. We decided to go ahead and take our lunch break, even though it was only 10:30 a.m. Everyone reconvened back in our home after lunch for the remainder of the day's activities, and it worked just fine. Chris and I went back to the venue that evening to check on the status. There was no damage to the part of the building we were using, although it did have a slight smoky smell. The odor was pleasant, like a distant cozy fireplace, rather than the stale cigarette smell of a bar when it opens. We were able to complete the third day of our program back at the venue.

Feldenkrais lessons provide opportunities to develop your ability to adapt, and to thrive; to innovate, create, and enjoy what comes your way. Within each lesson of easy, gentle movement patterns, a constraint appears. For the moment, you feel limited, blocked, challenged. Is the constraint an impediment, or an advantage? The constraint can be the key to unlocking the mystery of the movement, the pattern, the difficulty. Higher functioning results, and a good time is had by all. It's not about strength, power, forcing, or determination. Rather, it's about awareness, sensitivity, resposiveness, and options. The Feldenkrais Method is an extraordinary model for problem-solving, in any setting.

We love our Brain Spa venue, and our new friend who allowed us to use his space. We'll be meeting there again, grateful that it's still there to use and enjoy. However, our future clients will just have to understand: the fire will not be included in future programs!

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