“Knowledge is of little use in itself; it is the linking up of what we know with that which comes to us daily in the shape of new ideas and new experiences which is of value” FM Alexander(*)
A few weeks ago I decided, on a whim, to teach myself to crochet. (For the uninitiated, knitting is the woolly stuff you make with two needles; crochet is the woolly stuff you make with a single hook).
I wasn’t expecting great results, being naturally rather fumble-fingered, but it all came together rather well, and a whole lot faster than I anticipated. Thinking about it for a while, I realised that what I was doing was using a lot of the skills I use when I knit. Linking up what I already knew with what I was learning.
I learned to knit a few years ago, and a long, slow, frustrating process it has been, even with all the help the Alexander Technique has given me(†). But certain skills have stuck. How to hold a needle, in either hand. How to hold wool tightly, or loosely. How to get different fingers doing different tasks at the same time. How to read the loops, and to spot which loops belong to which stitch. How to remember stitch patterns. How to recognize when the third stitch back is wrong. And so on.
At the knitting stage, I didn’t even realise I was acquiring a skill. But I was. And, over the time I have been using the Alexander Technique, I have learned how to tuck the skill away in a box marked ‘For The Future’. That’s pretty important – the label on the box. A box labelled ‘Not Relevant To Anything Else’ is never going to be helpful.
So the box is important. But what is more important is going back and rummaging around in the box, and taking out the old skills, knowledge or insights, when something comes to you in the shape of new ideas and experiences. And then USING THEM.
(*) The opening quote is from Constructive Conscious Control of the Individual, IRDEAT edition p.287
(†) Which is a topic best left for a whole new blog.