Helen Adie: Finding the Place between the Job and my self (3 December 1983)

This is from the weekend work meeting with Mrs Adie on Saturday 3 December 1983. After dinner, Ivan said: “In the morning I had the thought that this is the last weekend work of the year, and I had to do as much as possible for a condition of relief. What you said about finding the place between the job and myself was a big help. In the morning I have a certain kind of energy, but it is not directed, and can be drawn in the wrong direction with the wrong intensity. Later on, I saw a lot of unnecessary motions on my face, unnecessary expressions. And there was also a feeling of need of some kind of anchor, and what you said about that place came back to me. And I tried as much as possible to put my attention on my face and to watch its expressions, and about eleven o’clock, a sense of calm started descending, then it was a feeling that, the previous hurry was completely unnecessary and one must try to do as much as possible in the best possible way; then it doesn’t matter. The hurry lost its importance after that. So, I achieved quite a lot today.”

“Well, it’s a very interesting account,” said Mrs Adie. “What was the centre of gravity of it, what was the question which arises from it? It’s a good account, covering a lot of ground. You must have been partly awake to see what’s taking place. I ask because you cannot prolong it, and so you need to know. It has a certain life at the time, but it gets spent. You cannot hold it with tension.”

“I need to know my aim, I need to have a definite idea of a practice I shall use, and then I can only progress a little bit at a time – by moments. If you happen to be very interested in your job of course it’s much more difficult, so you have to be very patient. If you do nothing, you’re completely taken by it. Yet all you need to do is remember about it, to remember with more than just the head. If you realise how you’re lost, you may find that you are too weak to move away from that state.”

“So what is missing?”

“My feeling. My body is engaged in this job, with my head I see that I am lost, so I need my feeling. Now, you can’t be completely disconnected, you can’t disconnect your feelings entirely from the job. Everything must be engaged – but only up to a certain point. There must be room. By “room” I mean an awareness. It is extremely difficulty to formulate in words, but there must be room for a practical effort. And it is there, but I am not aware of it. I have a feeling of myself, a sensation of myself. It is partly motor, partly the head, and partly sensation. But I feel the sensation of myself without words, I just feel that there is a resonance there. And I try and feel it while I’m on the job that I’m doing. There’s nothing wrong with both sensing my being and enjoying the job. But of course, I tend to get lost.”

“It’s very habitual thing that I do all my life,” said Ivan. “And yet, I see the picture of Mr Gurdjieff preparing food, his approach to work is like this, this is what I would like to have, but mine is like that.”

 “Well, from time to time I could approach that a little bit more,” said Mrs Adie, “but I have to be patient. But of course, try much more often, and at other times. And when you are going to begin a job you enjoy, remember, enjoying it doesn’t have to rob you of your state.”

“You have come to a good state, but the thing is, how does it make an impression that lasts, so I can remember? It requires an extra sort of effort of a certain kind from me, something which you remember, something you’ve seen clearly that you’ll know you’ll forget. It’s very puzzling sometimes as to why it’s difficult to hold my attention divided, to hold it, I mean can get it, but in a few moments, it’s gone. And I don’t realise it was the pull of mechanical life, it’s a big pull, it’s against nature.”

Then, to a young man, who had seen a good deal in a short time, she said: “Isn’t that fantastic, it’s very good that you’ve seen all that? A network of associations arrived uninvited. That’s very interesting, either the dream is there or it’s gone, as a rule. But you started with a firm and solid idea that you’re going to try and resist dreams, try not to dream. You’re going to try to be present all the time, of course you can’t, nobody can, for long. But the duration does increase with practice, yet, although we know that, there’s never enough practice. The fact that you’ve remembered as much as you have means that you’re not very far taken and not for very long. That is the impression I get, people seem much more aware than actually took place, in what they got lost in. After all, I really have no idea, when it’s gone it’s gone it’s fantastic. So, I think you can take it as encouraging. Yes, always a little bit more, a little more is always possible.”

Ivan’s reference to the picture of Gurdjieff eating is at the top of this page. The reference to a practice or a practical effort is to selecting, in advance, a specific discipline to help me (e.g. to use the left hand when possible, to stand rather than sit, not to hurry, etc.) But what really struck me was Ivan’s reference to Mrs Adie speaking of a place between the job and myself. Later in the day, one of the women referred to the same thing, and it had clearly had a great impact on her. Sadly, it does not seem that that part of the day was recorded.



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