Failure Is Hard, But Learning Is Easy
by David Gorman
Copyright © 2000 David Gorman, all rights reserved world-wide
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This is the record of a lesson that took place at a workshop early in 2000. It doesn’t
need much introduction. I have edited the transcript just enough (hopefully) to explain each step in
the process. At the end, Ghislaine describes what she learned and how her life has changed, from the
vantage point of a week after the lesson.
I have the feeling that I am living in a very superficial way. As if I was living only fifty percent
of my life and my possibilities. I have the feeling that when I am living, there is my life and then
there is me. I see what I could do, and I see what I do when I stay aside. For example, in drawing and
painting, there is a moment when I am drawing and I stop. Here is a moment when I would have a lot of
pleasure to go further, but I do not succeed.
I’d like to point out something right away. Notice that you have identified a moment in your drawing
that sounds like it is a repeated moment. That is, the problem, whatever it is, has happened a number
of times. And you have noticed it. You have here the first bit of information, which is that there is
something in this ‘learning nature’ of yours that has the ability to detect problems. And not only to
detect that there is a problem, but to pinpoint the territory that the problem is about and even the
particular moments when it happens.
I think it is quite interesting when you look at it this way, that you have the ability
to identify that something happens right there in that moment that stops you from drawing. Being
able to pinpoint the moment of the problem, allows you to look at exactly what happens at that moment
when you stop. So let’s look at that now. What does happen at that moment? From the point of view you
have at that moment, not looking back from later.
I think I am starting with a big fear.
Just to be accurate. At that moment when you stop drawing are you feeling a big fear?
It’s before I stop. As if I was losing myself in time. Which means I have to go further… To go over
something. It has to do with time. As is if time was getting me a little crazy, or that I was afraid
Again, just to be accurate here. Are you speaking about what you are actually experiencing at those
No. This is after, looking back.
Let’s leave that looking-back point of view for now and go to what actually happens for you at the moment
when you stop drawing. So there you are, you are drawing or you’re painting and moments go by and then…
I find that those feelings are there. It’s as if it was obvious that I’m not going to succeed, so then
I prefer to stop painting.
OK. I’d like to take another moment to step out of the content of what you are telling us and
look at the process we are using to explore that content.
There are a number of times in this approach where we need to look at the way we
say things because of how it reflects the way we think. When we are exploring a problem that we are
experiencing it is essential that we can think clearly and identify things accurately so that we can
sort out and make sense of what is happening. To do this we need to identify the ways in which we are
not as clear as we could be.
Sometimes these unclear ways are out and out misconceptions and of course we need
to catch those. But sometimes our way of thinking isn’t untrue, it just leaves a lot unsaid or implicit
and we can easily end up missing the unspoken parts.
We have one of these here. You’ve just said what I call an ‘unfinished sentence’.
You said, "…that I’m not going to succeed." You stopped with the verb, but did not explicitly
state the object of that verb. Succeed is the verb, but succeed at what?
We will see as we go on, the importance of finishing these unfinished sentences.
Until we can finish the sentence we will not know clearly what we are in the middle of. I point this
out now, partly because we need to complete the sentence to move onwards in this piece of work, but
mostly so that you can become more aware of these unfinished sentences and this habit of thinking. I’ll
point them out again whenever they happen so that you can become sensitized to them and hopefully recognize
them more and more as you think or speak.
So, back to the content again. When you say you’re not going to succeed… At any one
of those actual moments when you are painting, you are not going to succeed at what?
I’m not going to succeed in obtaining what would please me.
In that particular moment with that particular drawing, what precisely would that be?
But just before you answer that, we need another quick process moment again.
We have begun to ‘finish the sentence’. But there are times as we are beginning to
make things explicit when the first answer to "succeed at what" goes a little bit further but doesn’t
go all the way yet. That is, your answer is also an unfinished sentence, which is "not succeed in
obtaining what would please me". But this raises the question, "What specifically would please you?.
So we must finish that sentence too until we get to the actual specific.
In any one of those particular moments with an actual painting what is it that would
actually please you and let you go on?
That it would be clear that the drawing would be finished. This would be a goal for me and I would be
satisfied. On the other hand, I am not satisfied because I have the feeling that it is not finished.
And again we have another question to fully understand what success would be. What precisely would constitute
finished for you?
For instance in a drawing of a body, that I have got the harmony and all the shadow and the lighting,
so that I am not only drawing just the surface.
Now, after these three steps, we have an answer for "succeed at what?" But you originally said, "it
was obvious that I’m not going to succeed" So if you know what success is for you and it is obvious
that success is not happening at that moment when you are drawing, how do you know that you don’t
have this harmony and the shadows and the lighting happening? Is there something happening that shows
you that you don’t have that happening?
Yes, if I am copying something that already exists, I can obviously see a difference.
I need to point out that we have another unfinished sentence here. Or maybe we could call this an unstated
perception. "See a difference" only carries one bit of information — that there is a difference. But
we need to know different how. So what precisely is the difference you can see?
The same thing. The feeling that the art is not finished. Aesthetically, something is not beautiful.
And now we can continue down the steps with another question to reveal the specific difference. We have
another bit of information now. This is that the difference is to do with "aesthetics" and "beauty".
But we still don’t know what this "something" is which is not aesthetically beautiful. So, are you aware
of precisely what is not beautiful?
It is more that I’m perceiving that this is not what I want.
Another process moment here. As we progress in exploring what is happening, one of the things to be
on the lookout for is to find the way we have of seeing things, the point of view or constructs we have.
In other words, in addition to the facts of the situation, we also want to see how we have interpreted
In this light, notice that you are consistently describing that the problem is that
something isn’t there. "It doesn’t have a harmony; it isn’t beautiful; it isn’t finished". So,
it appears that your point of view has the focus on what is not there. Are you aware of what,
in fact, is there? This is an actual question. In those moments, are you aware of what is happening
that shows you what precisely is there which is not beautiful? Or what precisely is there which is not
[We paused for a moment… as these questions affected her deeply]
Let’s look for a moment at a different situation, hypothetical situation. What if you were drawing,
let’s say making a copy, and your drawing was not very accurate, and not very harmonious, but you didn’t
even see that? You didn’t notice that at all, but you showed it to somebody else and they did notice
all the flaws? This would show you that you lacked a lot of skills as an artist, but you would not have
been able to see that for yourself. This would not be a good situation
Of course, that is not what is happening here. You’re in a much better position than
that. You start to draw and your sensitive and perceptive system picks up that something is not quite
the way you want. This is a very important bit of information. But it doesn’t help you much until you
can see exactly how it isn’t what you want. Then you could change it.
Unfortunately, from the way you are saying it, it sounds like the emphasis for you
is on what the drawing isn’t, as opposed to, "What am I just seeing here that isn’t what I want? What
actually is happening?" Then you could say, "If this is what I did do, what is the difference
between it and that which I want?" To do this you’d need to be aware, not only of what isn’t
there (what you want), but also of what is there.
I have the feeling that I don’t want to see what is there. I only see what I want and don’t have.
That’s an interesting one. It sounds like you’re saying that you don’t want to see it and therefore
don’t see it. And in one sense that is true, since you do not know clearly what is there. Except, notice
that you do see it. That’s why you stop. If you didn’t see it, you’d just go right on being very
pleased and think the drawing is exactly what you are trying to do. So you have already noticed that
something isn’t what you want.
You just don’t know exactly what it is, so you can’t learn about it.
If everything turned out exactly the way you wanted, it would be clear that you would
have a certain skill or ability to be able to do that. But that is not quite where you are. From the
sounds of it, you love drawing, but you are still learning. And, of course, as soon as there is the
possibility that learning is needed, the most important thing is to know what it is that we need to
learn. How can you know what you need to learn if you don’t know what is happening?
So, just out of curiosity, at those actual moments when your drawing turns not quite
as you want, are you actually thinking of those moments as a learning situation?
That is, here is a moment where there is something for me to learn?
Not in this moment. In general it feels that I am in learning mode, but in this moment I see it as a
That is a very big difference to see that at those very moments I am in failing mode, which is not at
all fun on the value scale, somewhere down below zero here. And to be in failure mode doesn’t give you
any way to actually change anything because you don’t even know what it is that has happened.
But if we go back to the facts and see if they suggest a way to look at it slightly differently… You
have said that you have an already existing interest in drawing and painting. Interest is good. And
you have already registered that drawing and painting has significance and value for you; it gives you
pleasure. You already know, in general, that there is learning needed. And from the sounds of it, you
are interested and willing to do that. But of course, one can’t learn in general, one can only learn
in specific. And if we are going to learn we need specific things to learn.
Which is also a good thing, because, notice, you actually do have specific moments
showing up where there is something to learn. And best of all, you do detect these moments. You don’t
cruise right past those moments and not even see them. So your awareness and the perception is showing
you where the learning actually needs to take place.
Notice that all these elements, in this way of seeing them, are good things and they
are actually happening.
It’s just that at that moment, your ‘normal’ way of seeing it comes in such a way
that it feels like you failed. You expected to accomplish something and you failed to accomplish it.
What if we filled in that unfinished sentence: "failed at what?"
A failure of something I wanted.
But the very fact that you see right in front of you that it didn’t turn out that way means your expectation
was inaccurate. If you did fail to do something that obviously you don’t know how to do yet, can you
really say that was a failure if you have not yet learned to do it?
But I have been learning for a while, so it seems to me that I must be quite slow in learning this.
I need more time.
Well, quite slow at what?
At learning and observing.
Is it possible that why you would be slow at that is that you hit those moments when learning is possible
and instead think of them as failures which seems to stop your possibility of learning at that moment?
As opposed to noticing that something here isn’t what I want. And asking what is
it that happened? What do I want? What is going on here?
Then, of course, the possibility exists that you could learn specifically at that
moment. But that would mean seeing that moment as a very good thing. From this new point of view there
has been no failure here at all. There has in fact been a success at noticing that here is a
"Well, what am I noticing here that is happening, but isn’t what I
want? I must have noticed something that was different than what I wanted, otherwise I would not have
noticed it. What is the difference between these two? What is it that I could learn if I could see that
difference? If I could spot the difference accurately, would it be obvious what I would need to do to
get what I want instead of what I did?"
Yes I think so.
Then you would have learned rather than failed and that would be another success. But notice that it
is not success at ‘getting it’. It is success at noticing when learning is needed; success
at seeing what you need to learn; and then success at actually learning.
What we have uncovered shows that all the material is there that you would need to
do that. That is, everything is already there right up to the moment of learning. All that is needed
now is for you to learn to take advantage of that moment. As opposed to being stuck in a way of seeing
it where you hit yourself over the head with failure at that moment.
I can really see the difference now.
Now, practically speaking, at this point there is another step in the process.
We have just gone through the first step. The exploring-the-problem step. What really
is happening here? Can we come to a point where we have all the information out on the table and can
see it clearly? With this systematic way of looking, can we come to a more accurate understanding of
what really happened and therefore why this problem is occurring? And then from that more accurate understanding,
does the possibility exist of a different set of choices or pathways down which you can now move that
was unavailable to you before?
But it can help at this point in the process to look practically at what this new
understanding means. What would I do the next time in any of those ‘learning’ moments when they actually
Sometimes just going over things as we have done and seeing more accurately is itself
a huge change in perception and attitude. The impact of these connections themselves can change our
ideas or ‘reality’ so that what was a bad thing previously, we can now actually see as a good thing
— failure becomes learning, for instance. If the change goes deeply enough, you will be in very different
place in those moments and there will be no problem at all. You will see the moment in this new way,
as a good thing, that there is something for you to learn here, though you may not know quite what it
is yet, but won’t that be interesting and exciting?
Now, this may have already happened for you and it may not. Certainly, at this moment,
you seem to see things very differently, as you say. Of course, you will only know when you do arrive
at one of those real-life moments with your drawing if there has in fact been a fundamental change in
the way you see things.
Unless you have now become a perfect artist and those ‘learning’ moments never happen
again, you are probably going to hit another one of those moments where you recognize that what is happening
isn’t quite what you want.
But if you should happen to find yourself with the same sort of feelings of failure
and reactions of wanting to stop, do you think that those feelings would be tangible enough to wake
you up in that moment so that you would be clear that you are reacting as if it was a failure?
I think so.
You could then ask yourself, "But a failure at what?" "A failure at accomplishing some expectation
that I should have been able to do something that I can now see I obviously don’t know how to do otherwise
I would have done it. So that’s not very accurate or helpful."
But since you did catch that moment, then practically speaking, could you can go
back and ask yourself what you did see that woke you up? And will you be able to work your way back
from reaction mode to how to learn mode? If you wake up then, would be able to re-engage your interest
in what it was that actually did happen? "What is it about this drawing that is not what I want?
And what is it that I do want?"
In other words, would you be able to recognize that you were caught in the failure
reaction because of your expectation and instead choose to approach it a little differently and more
accurately as a learning experiment?
By accurately, I mean this: How can you fail at something you didn’t know
how to do? That would not really be an accurate point of view. Especially when you look at what happened.
But it is more accurate to see that something certainly seems to have happened here
that is not what I want. That is true. It is more accurate to say that I am not quite sure what it is
that happened… yet. That is also true. And it is more accurate to say that at that moment if I am interested
in learning, I could bring my attention to exploring and working it out. This is a much more true or
accurate way of seeing the situation since it really is what is happening.
You would not only find out if you can learn. If you did approach the situation this
different way — in learning mode rather than failure mode — you would also find out if the whole situation
would feel different? Would there be a horrible feeling of failure and fearfulness about your ability,
or would it in fact be interesting or fun? Of course, at this moment you don’t know, but you would find
If we think about for a moment now, would it not be extremely interesting if you
do find yourself approaching it differently and it really turns out to be a different experience? Because
notice that the situation hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is your way of seeing it.
And yet if you see it one way, up comes your whole familiar set of reactions, responses, feelings and
physical changes. If you go through exactly the same situation, but in a quite different way, and if
you found you had quite different responses, then you would directly experience how much our responses
are part of the way we see it. It would show you that your experience is not so much the experience
of that situation, as it is the experience of the way you see the situation.
I was doing a vicious circle… locked… where I was quite discouraged and I couldn’t get out.
Yes, and you have the experience of how each time you went around the circle reinforced the idea that
"I failed", "I can’t do this", "I’m a slow learner" and each previous time set you up and preconditioned
you to experience it the same way the next time. "See, I failed again, I just can’t learn".
I was putting more force on the drawing rather than on the understanding of what I was doing. On the
result. That is, I was working at going through it again and again and again, failing each time, rather
than figuring out what can I learn.
Can you see now how it works? That if you approach things that failure mode way, it can really slow
your learning down. Of course, you can then misunderstand this and start to think that "I am a slow
learner". As if that was a property of you, in stead of seeing that what is stopping you from learning
is the way you are going about it. Because the only moment when the learning could happen by continuing
is the very moment when you stop. In fact, when you think about it for a moment, those are the only
moments when learning could happen.
Now that we have gone through all this, how does it all resonate with your original
issue of feeling that you are living only fifty percent of your life and living superficially?
Now I can just see my life without the judgement I was putting on my self, a terrible judgement.
When you were caught inside that way of seeing things, can you see that it is almost inevitable that
you would have that judgement?
Yes, because there is no evolution
And it becomes a circle — a seamless circle. There is no way out of it as long as you stay within that
Of course, this goes to show us why we need some sort of approach like LearningMethods
to get out of these kind of seamless circles.
For instance, someone else who is outside of our way of seeing things can help us
break through by showing us what is misconceived about our framework. But if we are looking at how we
might be able to find our own way out of our own circles by ourselves, then the simplest and most direct
way (and it may also be the only way), is if we are able to use the information that is available
to us while we are still caught in that circle. And what we always have is our own tangible symptoms
which occur at a certain moment. If we can use these to wake us up, we can then start to look systematically
at what is happening.
This is what I just helped you to do. Together, we went over all the little details
of exactly what you were thinking and feeling. It is very important here to make sure that it is what
you are thinking and how you are feeling at that moment of the problem, not what you think about it
when you look back on it. Because those are two quite different things.
Notice by systematically looking at all the things that happened, and noting your
ideas and feelings which emerge at the same time, we have a way to get past the unfinished sentences
to the explicit details and understanding of the situation. What happens to us normally is that without
a way to get past them we just stop at the "I’m afraid that I won’t succeed" sentence. And if
anyone listening didn’t see the unfinished sentence either, they’d just say, "Yeah, I know what you
mean. Not succeeding. That’s tough". And that is the end of our ability to understand, though it
is not the end of the problem by any means.
But when we can hear that unfinished sentence, "not going to succeed" and
ask, "not succeed at what?" Then not be satisfied with "succeed at obtaining what would please
me", but ask, "precisely what would please you," and so on… We have a way to get right back
to the underlying idea which starts to reveal itself and all the details of what happens are also revealed.
With that information it is possible to begin to see what our ideas and interpretations
actually are. And to question if the ideas actually match the detailed facts of the events. In other
words, is your concept accurate to what happened? Did you actually fail at anything when it can be
seen from the details that you don’t really know what happened there yet?
With all the information out on the table, especially a question about the accuracy
of our way of seeing things, we can look carefully at the available information and see if there is
another interpretation of these facts that is more accurate. That this is instead a moment when what
needs to get learned shows up and could be learned.
Without the tools to get at all those details so we can check their accuracy, we
are just stuck in the ‘reality’ of our interpretation without knowing it is an interpretation. And each
time we go through it we reinforce it again. And in our ‘normal’ way of seeing things we just do not
notice the details, nor the ideas; we just live under them. So, if we are to work this out for ourselves
it is essential to have a way to get at all this information.
Now I can really see clearly those moments where I was not succeeding and instead of asking myself questions
I was escaping. It was more easy for me to go with my usual interpretation.
Given the way that you were seeing things, you hit those moments over and over with all that force and
emotion. So the response of wanting to escape from them is somewhat understandable. From within that
point of view it is quite a heavy thing because there is no way out of it and because the failure is
saying a huge amount about you and your ability.
When we see it differently, of course, there is very little charge on it. It doesn’t
really say anything about you except show you where you are in your learning which is a very good and
important thing. So now there is nothing to escape from. Quite the contrary as this is exactly the situation
you’d want to get into so you can learn.
So why escape when it is exactly what you want? You get a further chance to learn.
And whatever you learn, you’ll be an even better artist. Each time you live this way and do learn reinforces
that these moments are good and that you can learn relatively easily making it all the easier to meet
the next learning moment.
This is quite a different approach entirely.
This is why it is called LearningMethods!
I realize how much the conditioning that I am in, or we are into, is really locking ourselves in and
reducing our capacities. In fact it is not real at all itself.
Yes, you are absolutely right. It is a complete illusion when we look closely. Except, that at the moment
you are experiencing this it is as real as it gets, complete with emotions, reactions, feelings and
Notice an interesting fact about the way these things work. When we are caught in
that kind of illusion, there are a lot of these low-quality experiences — failure, fear, frustration,
etc. These ‘negative’ experiences go along with the vicious circles of misconception. So it is not that
there is no sign that something is wrong with this picture. If we can recognize those low-value experiences
as a sign that "something’s wrong", instead of assuming that "I’m wrong", or "something is wrong with
me", then we have a wake-up call to bring online our systematic way of exploring to find out what is
wrong here, what is happening, and to work out what is unconstructive.
In your case to uncover that inaccurate concept that you failed and are a slow learner.
As if you could have succeeded at something that you don’t yet know about. Whereas the only thing you
failed at was being further ahead than you actually are. And the way to get further ahead than you are
is to take that moment to learn what actually did happen. I realize that I am repeating my self, but
I think it is good to go over these things a few times in slightly different ways, so that we can see
them from many angles.
In other words, if we put it the other way round, would it be possible for us to
be caught in these inaccurate conceptions or misconceptions and not have some sort of symptoms
or problems happening to us?
So the symptom is the revelation that the moment is not well-lived.
Yes, exactly. We can ask ourselves, "What is this a symptom of?"
All of this has the effect of making me feel so much lighter. As if things can be simple. And I can
take life at each moment where life leads and not where I wanted it to be.
That’s an interesting one, isn’t it? This idea of how we think we would like life to be. As if that
would be a really good thing. And life as it is then begins to seem not very nice compared to the ‘lovely’
idea of what it should be. Which, in turn, reinforces the idea that wouldn’t it be nicer if life was
like I wanted.
Except that what we don’t realize is that on the one side here I am having an idea
of how life should be. And on the other side there is life actually being different from my idea.
And at the same time I’m experiencing all this misery. Of course, what keeps me stuck in this
is that I am thinking that the misery I am experiencing is because of the way life is. "Life is hard
and life is tough, isn’t it?"
But is it? Or is the misery I am experiencing because I have this ‘lovely’ idea or
What we don’t usually take in is that all these elements are happening simultaneously.
I am holding this ideal in an ongoing way. At the same time, reality is showing itself in an on-going
way to be different than my should-be idea. And at the same time, I feel miserable in an on-going
Hmmmm. Maybe they are all part of the same thing? Maybe, just maybe, the experience
of misery is the experience of hanging onto an idea which is inaccurate to the way things
If so, this supposedly lovely idea is not so much causing all these not-so-lovely
experiences. It is all these not-so-lovely experiences. How lovely can an ideal be if the actual
lived experience of it is misery? But it is a pretty sneaky paradoxical-seeming one until we can see
that as long as I hold that idea, and the idea is different than reality, and it is the idea which
should be, then I will experience this misery.
But, of course, the real issue here is that we are just not seeing things accurately.
Life is, in fact, showing us all the time how it works. And we are seeing it all the time too. That’s
how we know that it isn’t what we’d like it to be, just like in your drawing.
It’s just that the lovely ideal is so seductive and we have invested so much desire
into it and experienced so many good feelings while contemplating it, that it has come to seem more
real that the real. It is what should be. In other words, the idea has become fixed and can no
longer adjust to what is.
Therefore, in those on-going moments when life kindly — and persistently —
shows us again how it works, we don’t see it. We take it that life is wrong and we try to change
life to fit our fixed idea. It never occurs to us that it would make a lot more sense to change our
ideas to fit reality. It never occurs to us to look at these two — our idea and life — and see clearly
which one was real and which was not. If we were able to take in the bare fact of what was real, then
it would be a no-brainer as to which to choose.
It is an obvious choice because you now have the direct experience of the very high
price you pay for this failure to perceive reality accurately. Better yet, it is an obvious choice because
you also have the direct experience of what happens when you do see reality more accurately. You "feel
so much lighter. As if things can be simple. And take life at each moment where life leads and not where
I wanted it to be."
Ghislaine called the next day to say that she felt so liberated — like a huge burden
had been lifted — and she had been painting all day. There had been none of the fear or discouragement
at all and while at times her painting turned out different than she wanted, it was no big deal to her
and she was easily able to just continue painting and learn. She also said that she was finding big
and very positive changes in many other aspects of her life too.
A week later, Ghislaine came back and had this to say about the lesson and its
affect on her:
"What I liked about this work is the respect for who I am myself. At no time did
David impose on me who he was himself. I really felt that my intrinsic value was not undermined. My
sense of value remained stable and it is in my value that the work happens. And I believe that is what
makes the work gentle for me. I did not feel my space violated as I have done before. The work has been
done in a space that belonged to me with my own experiences, which really allowed me to reintegrate
and be totally myself. This allowed me to not be afraid and to stay right there while things sunk in
and became integrated. It is through this that I succeed in understanding what is happening for me.
So, I feel I have a lot to learn but today I feel in harmony with who I am. And that
is important for me, because without this harmony, I could not move forward. I was completely locked
in a situation which didn’t really exist and I couldn’t get out of it and make progress.
In effect, what I realize is that I had all the information about my art and now
it comes back to me — all the things I heard during four years of classes but I could not use. Today,
little by little as I work, they come back to me and I use them. What seems crazy to me is that I couldn’t
use them before. It just wasn’t possible. The teacher could repeat the same thing a thousand times and
it wouldn’t go in. I understood nothing. Now, I haven’t seen him for a while, but I must have heard
those things because I am able to use them now. It’s just there. How simple and easy it is! I realize
how much I couldn’t hear. I heard with my ears, but it stopped there — it was impossible to advance
in such a situation. And because I was so frustrated I couldn’t see the essential things.
What lightness! What a relief to be able to say, "Yes, I can do this".
I am satisfied with where I am today. Today, I find I am not so bad at all. I always
felt I was a novice in my work but now I realize that I am not. My abilities are there, it was just
necessary to see them and believe in them. It’s incredible.
At the same time, I am sad to think that all these years I have lost time. And, in
fact, I was blocked in a situation that was an illusion. I am so much better today, but it is nevertheless
a sadness to look back and realize that I did not progress and have lost the time. The truth of the
moment is that I have suffered and I wanted to get rid of some of this burden.
Before I felt as if there was a doubling of myself and I was not able to be in one
or the other. I was looking to do things without being on one side or the other. And it was what I reproduced
in my drawing and in all my life. By being continually frustrated by everything, by being always complaining
when I spoke to others. I was in frustration and in complaint about life and in complaint about everything.
I never felt myself alive. Like I stayed in withdrawal, there was that I could and that I couldn’t.
I was only in ideas but not the realization.
I can see to what extent the ideas can hold me back and make me less than I am. I
also see to what extent I would never have been able to find that all alone. I realize, my god, I could
have passed my life inside that. I was not able to come into the reality of my level because I was blocked
by an idea!
I love figure drawing. It’s my favourite. And my teacher used to say to me, "Look
at the contours. Draw the emptiness and the fullness. I used to wonder what he was talking about — it
was gibberish. And now I understand. But when he was explaining it to me, I couldn’t see. I can’t explain
why. I was in such a closed place that I couldn’t see. I say that and I realize that it has only been
a week since the lesson.
There is such a gap between today and all those years before the work with David
when I heard without hearing and I believed I was stupid. Today, the most marvellous thing is the sense
of new horizons. My goal is to progress, move forward, to please myself more and more even if it doesn’t
please others. If it pleases me, it’s already good and this new path gives me great joy.
It goes without saying that I wasn’t only unblocked as an artist. Inevitably, believing
in myself as an artist means I believe in myself in life, in relationship to others — in all my life
because I am fully there. Now I am more alive than I was a week ago!
To believe in myself is to feel capable of doing something which has meaning for
me. Now I feel capable as an artist. It is not a matter of belief but a matter of being. Now I am at
the point where I am fully present with what I do. That has nothing to do with belief. It is more about
being present. As if I was no longer in the mismatch, beside myself. Now I don’t feel beside myself.
Now when I do something I am fully present, fully there. Not one hundred percent — I feel that still
have some way to go. But in the space of a week, it’s the difference between night and day!
When I used to go to exhibitions of painting, I would say to myself, "That seems
simple. I can make pictures like that." But when it was necessary to actually do it, I couldn’t come
to anything in front of the drawing. There was a gap between what I felt I could do and the reality
of doing it. I never understood what happened in this moment. In fact, I no longer saw what happened
except that the result was not at all what I was thinking.
Now I see that my appraisal was fair, because today, accomplishing what I want appears
to me to be very easy. I don’t always get what I want, but it is a lot closer. It is clear that there
is work to be done, but that doesn’t terrorise me now. Now it’s closer to what I dreamed of before.
Before, this frustration made it so that I could not move. My way of seeing things
wasn’t reality, but it still prevented me from doing what I really was able to do. I was nevertheless
aware that I could do better. But I couldn’t find the solution between the moment when I was conscious
that I could do it and the reality of how I could actually do it. It is crazy because I wasn’t far off
it at all, because now I am there so fast. With this freedom now, I am a better artist. My standard
is higher without having worked.
In the space of a week, it is incredible!"
There is a small biography of personal details about the
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About the Author
David Gorman has been studying human
structure and function since 1970. He is the author of an illustrated 600-page
text on our human musculoskeletal system, called
The Body Moveable (now in
its 6th edition and in colour), and numerous articles and essays, including
the book, Looking at Ourselves (2nd
edition in colour).
David has been working with performers (singers,
musicians, actors, dancers and circus artists) for over forty years. He is a
trainer of teachers of LearningMethods and of the
Alexander Technique and has taught all
over the world in universities, conservatories, performance companies, and orchestras;
for doctors in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics; and in training courses
for Feldenkrais, Alexander Technique, physiotherapy, osteopathy, massage & yoga.
Over the years, his changing understanding about the
root causes of people's problems led him to gradually extend his Alexander Technique
teaching into the development of a new work, LearningMethods (and an
offshoot, Anatomy of Wholeness about our marvelous human design), which
is being integrated into the curricula of performance schools in Europe, Canada
and the United States by a growing number of LearningMethods
Teachers and Apprentice-teachers.
Since 2010, David has been running online post-graduate
groups for Alexander Technique teachers and groups for those who want to learn to
use LearningMethods in their own lives, as well as those who want to integrate the
work into their existing professional work as a teacher, therapist, medical or
Telephone: +1 416-519-5470
78 Tilden Crescent, Etobicoke, Ontario M9P 1V7 Canada (map)