Our class started promptly at 9:00 am. The facilitator outlined the morning and said The Rules would be coming shortly before lunch. Sigh. I came all this way and now I had to wait until mid-morning to get what I wanted? Just at the moment of having that thought, I started laughing. Oh, my, goodness. What kind of terrible Alexander student was I being right now?
If I really planned to end gain my way through this workshop, I was going to miss an entire early morning of useful and important stuff. I knew I was perfectly capable of mentally hurrying on and trying to second guess what “The Rules” were going to be, rather than paying attention to what was being said in each moment. On the other hand, I’d payed a nice sum to be in this present moment and hear everything that was said, so I might as well take advantage of what was right in front of me.
I decided to laugh at myself a little more, then pause, then let go of the need to have those rules right now. And guess what happened? In those moments of listening, of hearing something completely new that preceded the giving of the rules, I had a Revelation. The Capital R Revelation that made the entire workshop worth it for me. If I’d been end gaining instead of listening, I might have missed it.
People end gain for all sorts of reasons. I love it when a brand-new student comes into my studio and asks “How many lessons is this going to take until I get it?” That’s end gaining at its finest. I remember once walking down the hall to make some copies in the teacher’s room. I was so busy imagining myself standing in front of the machine, pushing buttons in my mind, that I completely missed the walk down the hall. That’s end gaining. Ever drive somewhere and realize you had no idea how you got there? That’s end gaining, too.
Educators talk a lot about being “goal focused” vs “process oriented” in the classroom. Being goal focused is teaching for the test, or if you’re a music teacher like me, focusing all your assessment on a concert performance. End gaining is what you’re forced to do because it’s all about the outcome. Being process oriented means that it’s less about the final outcome and more about the journey of getting there. Teaching for the love of learning. Feeling free to go off on tangents because the class finds them interesting. You get to the goal and it takes whatever time it takes to get there. It’s the antithesis of end gaining, and the deepest kind of learning. The kind where you have revelations.
Over the years I’ve learned that inhibition is the best antidote to end gaining. When I pause, allow the present moment back into my attention, let go of the need to be somewhere else doing something else and really pay attention, I can allow myself to slow down and breathe. Learning to enjoy the process makes all of life richer.