The Healing Journey Project

Renewal and Transformation Through Kung Fu

Progress Journal

Neighborly Conduct and Simple Things

Posted by Robert Bibeau on September 12, 2011 at 2:15 AM

What is it about Americana that appeals to us all so much? Is it the simplicity, the friendly faces, the familiar condition, or the easily predictable American experience while growing up? One could make the argument that it is any of these, all of them or any combination thereof. Interestingly, my focus tonight is not at all about why the experience appeals to us but rather the healing nature of such an experience.

It is a question of getting back to basics. After injury or tragedy, your life is in shambles. Getting settled into a routine is done out of necessity not out of comfort or familiarity. Recognizing that wonderful things are happening all around you all of the time is virtually impossible. In essence, not only is it hard to appreciate life or even the efforts of others around you, it is hard to value the overall human experience of interaction with friends, family, neighbors and strangers.

After Tiffany and I bought our house I began to take an interest in buying as often as possible from local vendors who are not affiliated with any kind of chain… the so-called “Big Box” stores. This isn’t motivated by any political perspective or agenda, but rather began as an interest in trying out the various restaurants in the area. Tiffany makes me watch a lot of the show Man V. Food on the Travel Channel and as a result I realized the best foods in the country are served at those old “hole in the wall” type establishments that have been serving the same foods for 55 years. That ended up developing the interest in shopping at the various other local stores but for about a year that was as far as the interest went.

Over the past few months, my routine has begun to shift back to one of comfort and familiarity rather than one of necessity. The regimentation in my life that had been necessary is beginning to be replaced by recognition and initiative based judgments. Anyone who has ever struggled with a severe injury or tragedy will recognize the importance of being able to do things on your own again. Less well recognized but equally as important, is the ability to do things on your own, not because some schedule says you need to, but rather because you recognize the need. So this recent transition has been one of particular import. I feel like it has enabled me to better communicate with Tiffany but it recently gave me back a skill set that I didn’t even know I was missing.

Last Friday morning, I went over to my teachers house for our 5 AM workout. I had a fantastic workout and frankly I impressed myself with how quickly I am learning new material. What used to be a months long process to learn a new form or sequence is now a matter of weeks or days and in some cases a mere few minutes. I am enjoying this current “high point” to take in new material and I am retaining it well and in fact in my off class workouts, I am finding that my older material is enhancing as a result of the new material. Enjoying such a high point doesn’t however mean I can give up my professional requirement though and so I dismissed from our workout a bit earlier than I normally would as I needed to be to work early.

Realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to engage in my normal breakfast routine at work, I decided to stop in at a place near my house called Alan’s Alley Café and order something to-go. I’ve seen the place many times and it is always PACKED during lunch so I was relieved to see that there weren’t but a handful of people there. I introduced myself to a friendly waitress who I soon learned was the owner. We spent a few minutes chatting briefly and she gave me a cup of coffee “on the house.” I ordered and we spent just a few more minutes talking about how I liked the neighborhood and other general small talk.

The whole affair had a very warm, friendly and genuine feel to it. Quite honestly I felt like one of those old men you might see sipping coffee outside of a hardware or general store off of your typical Mainstreet, USA. I liked the feeling of community I got and it set a good tone for the rest of my day. As I drove in to work, I realized that I had truly enjoyed some very neighborly communication with a complete stranger and had made a friend. Then the realization washed over me that 5 or 6 months ago, it would have been absolutely impossible for me to enjoy time by myself like that. Being able to really live during moments that are so quintessentially part of the American experience is a really rewarding and awe inspiring feeling.

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