Tommy Tiernan's Technique.
By comedian Tommy Tiernan and published in Ireland's 'Sunday Independent' on 19 Nov 2017
Since I was a teenager, I’ve had a sense that things weren’t right. At home in the house or out in the world, people were screwing things up, and it was my inclination to find the way that they should be done.
Not to actually put them right myself, of course, just to find the method, and then blame others for not doing it.
And it’s sent me on the most fantastic of searches. Into Bob Dylan and Lenny Bruce. Into Buddhism and Jesus Christ. Into Tai Chi and Educogym.
And it’s given me something to talk about and earn a living from. Flights of fancy about how things could and should be.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Most of my life, in a certain sense, has always been like that. Complaining. What’s wrong ? The wrong house, the wrong person, the wrong book. The wrong road. The wrong newspaper, the wrong body, the wrong food. The wrong government. They should have done it this way. Why am I not in charge?
Well, things may be beginning to change. Maybe. I’ve started doing this thing recently called the Alexander Technique. It’s basically lying down on a table and doing nothing. Yeah, nothing. So I’m not entirely sure if I’m doing the Alexander Technique or if the Alexander Technique is doing me. But I persist. Or at least I stop persisting. I mean, I lie there and do nothing, that’s it. No productivity, no will, no effort, no strain, no ‘try harder’. Nothing. Strange one. Just lie there.
And it might sound a bit odd to say so, but it works. Works in what way? Well, I don’t know, but something is changing. My posture is a little better; not much, but a little. I make subtle differences to the way that I’m sitting, and I notice the effect that my body position has on the way that I’m relating to the other person. Open body, open mind. It feels good.
It might be something to do with my meditations, too. I try, twice a day to find a quiet space and sit there and do — you’ve guessed it — nothing. I don’t work on anything, I don’t try and figure anything out, I just sit there. Relentlessly, remorselessly, redundantly doing nothing. I took the same approach to school, but it was under-appreciated at the time.
I feel on thin ice saying it now, because once you declare something, especially things as sensitive as spirit, then they disappear on you altogether, but sure I’ll know better next time, and I wouldn’t be known as a man who keeps his mouth shut (sure what’s the point in knowing something if other people don’t know that you know it?)There seems to be a slight, almost negligible (you wouldn’t sense it if you were living with me; hardly seems worth mentioning at all) but there does seem to be a small change in perspective. My life, this thing that was wrong, and the world, the way that it is, which was also wrong, now betimes give the appearance of being, well, if not quite right, well then, abundant.
Situations which once seemed thin, now feel overflowing, as they are. There is an infinity of interest in the tiniest detail. A smell, a bee, a grain of wood. Rain.
It’s as if I was looking at a photograph of the Mona Lisa and then, all of a sudden, I’m sitting with her in the flesh. What was once flat and impersonal is now sensuous. It’s the difference between looking at a picture of a lake and falling into it.
I have an awareness now of all the times that I try to control other people’s behaviour, instead of just letting them at it. Children, pets, crowds. I’m still there as a nudger, though; a soft shoulder into safety every now and again, of course, but definitely more aware of the possibility of a step back, and an allow.
You find yourself becoming more of a witness/participant with the world rather than an organiser. You watch the sun go down; you set with it. A sentence appears in your mind. “There’s nothing wrong with dying.” A sentence you haven’t lived or deserved. You throw it out there.
Am I stoned? I don’t think so. I am nearly enchanted, that’s what it is. Enchanted by the ordinary. Nearly. I’m not overwhelmed just yet, because I still drink 14 pints of coffee a day. I’m still short-tempered and egotistical, still difficult to live with, still moody, still self-absorbed and alone, still distracted, but these are some things that I have noticed.
“I’m still short-tempered and egotistical”