Frederick Mathias Alexander, the developer of the Alexander Technique, was born on this day back in 1869. Let’s use this occasion to celebrate his discoveries, and his achievements in making them available to us today.
Alexander (often called “FM”) grew up in very humble circumstances in Tasmania, an island off the south coast of of Australia. It was the last part of Australia to be settled by the British, who used it as a dumping ground for convicts.
Virtually all the Tasmanian Aborigines were killed – either by disease or outright slaughter – by the time Alexander was born, just a half century after the first whites arrived. The few who remained were herded into squalid concentration camps.
Visitors to Tasmania at the time wrote about an air of death and destruction that hung over the island. It was definitely not the trendy vacation destination it has become today.
And yet, like a phoenix arising from the ashes, Alexander made groundbreaking discoveries about human functioning – and how to improve it – that have far-reaching implications for us all.
With the Australian pluck that transformed a penal colony into the Land of Oz, Alexander managed to bring his discoveries to the very center of the British Empire and on to the famous and not so famous around the world.
His is definitely a life worth celebrating.
In honor of his birthday, I’d like to share one of my favorite Alexander quotes:
After working for a lifetime in this new field I am conscious that the knowledge gained is but a beginning…my experience may one day be recognized as a signpost directing the explorer to a country hitherto ‘undiscovered,’ and one which offers unlimited opportunity for fruitful research to the patient and observant pioneer.
I believe Alexander would be excited about many of the new developments in Alexander Technique teaching that have occurred since his death in 1955: group teaching, scientific and medical studies about his work, improved versions of his directions, spin-offs of the Alexander process, the use of the web to promote his work, the role of Face Book and other social media to connect Alexander teachers and students, Skype teaching…the list goes on and on.
What is your favorite FM quote? What do you think Alexander would make of today’s Alexander Technique world?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And today let’s celebrate!
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net