Grace in the Fall

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Autumn is my favorite time of year. For a few weeks in the northern latitudes, deciduous trees express their biological rhythm by shedding their leaves in a celebration of color.

It is a time of transition, and this year even more so.

Emerson reminds us that “Earth laughs in flowers”. In Hamatreya, he is not so much referring to the joyful abundance of Spring, but rather the eternal patience of our home against the utter short-sightedness of the human perspective.

Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys
Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs;
Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet
Clear of the grave.
What about Fall? If Earth laughs in flowers, then perhaps she hugs with autumn leaves.
On the other side of the equinox, we reap the harvest of actions taken or ignored. That colorful embrace with which we are honored is a reminder. A reminder that even in the middle of transition, in the depths of struggle, and in the agony of the unknown, there is Beauty in Change and there can be Grace in the Fall.

Harriette

DEMDC Harriette

I am a shore kid. The salt of the mid-Atlantic is in my DNA. I knew how to swim since I could walk. My dad taught me how to body surf waves before I ever went to school. I can boogie board, skim board, paddle board, surf, surf ski, kayak, canoe, and row. I know how to go out into the water and how to come back.

I spent many a summer in Lavallette, NJ. I used to work as an Ocean Rescue lifeguard while in college and again after graduate school. I was trained and eventually helped to train others how to observe and navigate the water.

Now, I find myself turning the page to a new chapter. The bay will become a river, sand dunes mountains, and white sandy beaches rugged cliffs covered in fir.

On my way West, I have had the chance to pause in Vermont. Somewhere in the Northeast Kingdom there is a small lake surrounded by rolling green tree-covered hills. Somewhere on this lake resides a lady I have come to know. Her name is Harriette.

It has been several years since I was in a row boat. Like riding a bike, rowing is one of those things that magically never leaves your body.

Rowing is one of the the most meditative activities I have ever experienced. You are facing backward, moving forward, and all the while using your entire body and complete concentration to be fully present in order to stay on course.

Sometimes you row to get from one location to another. Other times, it is simply to put your back to the oars. Yet every time you get into the boat, you remember where you started. With an eye to the past it is how we row now that will get us to where we need to be.

An American Tradition

DEMDC OBSV

4 Roses Distillery, KY

When the German, Irish, and English settlers began to move West through what was then Virginia, they found natural mineral springs, an abundance of corn, and an environment that lent itself beautifully to the aging process of whiskey. They applied their knowledge of distillation with the raw materials they had available. A predominantly corn mash whiskey aged in new charred oak barrels yields the caramel color and the complexity of the Kentucky bourbon we have today.

There is a purity to the process and the culture of distilling bourbon. The lessons and secrets of the craft have been honed for hundreds of years. Modern technology has facilitated some of the aspects of production and distribution, but the authenticity of the art can still be found in the hills and valleys of Kentucky. There are men dedicated to conserving and sharing the integrity of this American tradition. Like in all disciplines, there are those who wish to muddle the purity of this tradition.

Those who wish to compromise the integrity of this (or any) industry, for financial gain, “modernization”, or perhaps an “expansion of scope” need to understand one thing: good people do not give their allegiance to things without depth. A tradition with a science, an art, and a philosophy, a profession that requires skill and innovation, and a practice that requires patience, discipline, and trust will keep its integrity.

Distillation is the process of extracting the essence of a thing. When all of the nonsense and all of the noise is removed, what remains is the spirit. When this happens in a person it is called satori. When it happens with whiskey it is called bourbon.

What story does your spine tell?

grays-anatomy_l

The story of your spine is your “back story”. Many people know that the spine helps to protect the spinal cord, the neurological freeway that connects the brain to nerves in the body. The spinal cord is not a separate organ from the brain, and in many ways it can be considered the “back of the mind”.

We experience our world through our nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves, and sense organs). Sometimes, this world can be stressful on our bodies and our minds and this is reflected in the spine. The body will prioritize stability over freedom when it is under duress or if it perceives it is under duress. This means that whether the stress on the body and the spine is material (physical or chemical stress) or psychological (mental/emotional stress), the body and the spine will respond in the same way.

Sometimes it is important and necessary to trade stability for freedom, but more often than not this state is only beneficial when temporary. Life is the expression of motion and motion requires freedom. This is nowhere more apparent than in the spine. If the spine is not allowed to freely express movement through a balanced and coordinated range of motion, the entire communication system of the body becomes challenged. When there is reduced quantity and quality information being communicated within the body, especially when this occurs over long periods of time, we see the consequences of dis-ease manifest.

Dis-ease can take different forms. Dis-ease can look or feel like pain, fatigue, tension, or challenges with how the body functions. No matter what the symptoms, dis-ease in the body indicates a compromise to the body’s internal communication system.

The role of the chiropractor is, therefore, to address the compromise to body’s internal communication system. In chiropractic, this compromise when found in the spine is called the vertebral subluxation. The chiropractic adjustment is an information signal delivered to mobilize the innate wisdom of the body, in order to allow the nervous system to reorganize where and how ease and dis-ease are present.

“The time has come when we can no longer consider the body as a collection of units, but as an integrated whole.”

The stories that we write with our lives are the stories that are reflected in our spines. To see the integrated whole, we must acknowledge that nothing exists in isolation, there must be a balance of freedom and stability, and that this process of story writing is ultimately a creative one.

Gewissenbisse

We regret things we have done, but wish we had not done. Regret is therefore one possible consequence of action. We experience remorse when we reflect on something we didn’t do, but wish we had. Remorse, then, is one possible consequence of inaction.

In German, there are a few ways to describe remorse. One way is the word Gewissenbisse, which literally translates to “bite of conscious”.

I recently had an elderly woman present to my office with mild low back pain. When she arrived, she came with her two sisters. There was something different, yet familiar, about their stature, their gait, and their communication that I registered before I heard Ingrid (not her real name) speak.

Ingrid was from Germany. She was born in the early 30s, which means she had a front row seat for some of the most significant historical events of the twentieth century.

I knew from her cadence that she was from eastern Germany, and when I asked her where she was from, she politely said “East Germany”.

One of things I lament most about where I live is that I don’t have anyone with whom to practice my German. I studied German in high school and in college. I even took a minor in it. Some of my favorite professors and some of the coolest people I met were through my engagement with this culture. I know it’s all still in there, but there are a few layers of dust on my Vokabeln and my Grammatik.

And here I was, not only with a native German speaker, but someone who had lived a history that few people today have.

But I was in Doctor mode. My priority was to determine what was going on in this woman’s spine, and to help her in the best ways that I know how. She had, after all, come to a chiropractic office, not a tea party.

She explained her complaint, I did my analysis, and I delivered the appropriate adjustments.

I kept seeing the phrases unfold themselves in my mind’s eye:

 

Moechten Sie auf Deutch oder auf Englisch sprechen?”

“…Ja, ich kann ein bisschen Deutsch sprechen. Ich habe im Frankfurt am Main studiert…”

Drehen Sie sich seine Kopf, bitte. Nach rechts…gerade aus…nach links…”

 

German was on the tip of my tongue, but I didn’t say a word of it.

I was afraid I was going to make a mistake. I was afraid that somehow, I might offend her in offering to speak her native language. I was afraid that somehow my credibility with her might be lessened, since I was already young enough to be her grandson, what would it look like if I childishly tried to show off my rusty, but hopefully passable Deutsch?

Resistance gripped me, Uncertainty filled my mind, and I allowed Fear to take that round.

To an extent, remorse and regret fade with time, but I will remember this bite of conscious. Opportunities, once lost, cannot be acted upon, but they can be reminders that Resistance is to be overcome and the only way to best Fear is to do that which scares you.

 

Grover

DEMDC Riverwood

Around the bend

Through glade and glen
And o’er green grass
The soft sun of early Spring
Rarifies the vernal air.

Where am I
If not here?
Alone, in these woods,
To bear witness to this Beauty.

And yet, at this natural pace,
The mind still races.
A Desire to capture and record and remember,
An attempt to freeze a fluid experience.

And so why write, when I can breathe?
Why read, when I can listen?
Why wonder, when I can wander
In these groves?

The Chiropractic Adjustment

DEMDC Tic

Tic

I do not use the word treatment.
For me, treatment is something you do to windows or hair; it might be therapeutic, it might address the surface of an issue.
A treatment is a procedure you do in order to fix an ailment or condition.
There is nothing wrong or bad about treatments. They have a place and provide value to those who seek them.
I do not offer treatments.

Conditioning tells us that life, time, and consequences are linear.
Linear simply means that if you do x, you will get y. If you add a lot of A, you will get a lot of B.
Linear thinking works really well is some disciplines. Newtonian mechanics, which helps us to understand and predict how matter works on a large scale is an invaluable part of human knowledge.
However, linear thinking does not apply to biology, which is by its very nature non-linear. Non-linear means that a small input can yield a large output, that if you do something in one spot, it could affect a seemingly unrelated spot somewhere else, and ultimately that the balance of life exists far from equilibrium.
Put it this way – the closer we get to thermodynamic equilibrium, the closer we are to death, which is the ultimate state of material stability.

Composition is non-linear.

When the composer hears the score, they do not say “does this accord with the rules and theories of music?” The composer channels what was once ethereal and formless into something that can be expressed in the physical realm of time and space and instruments.

To say that the lines on the staff, the clef or the key dictate the course of the song or limit the expression of the music is to misunderstand how this process unfolds. Even the notes as they are written on the page are only representations of an unlimited unbound energy that allows the composer to temporarily give it a name.

This is not to say that the composition defies the defined and observable laws of music theory. It means that the defined and observable laws are simply descriptions of what compositions consistently have in common.

Music is not born from theory any more than Nature is born from physical laws. Genesis always has been and always will be the process of the immaterial unfolding itself in the language of the physical world. The size, style, and age of your light fixture does not alter the nature of the electricity that feeds it, even though that electricity acquiesces to the limits of the matter and form. How else could it share its light?

The chiropractic adjustment is non-linear.

Adjusting is a creative act because the chiropracTOR understands that, like the artist, they are facilitating the unfolding of intelligence through matter, which happens to be the chiropractic meaning of life. The adjustment allows the Innate Intelligence that coordinates and communicates with all spheres of the human experience to be unlocked, enticed, and reorganized. An adjustment is something that is made, co-creatively, for the betterment of the individual and by extension all who will be affected by their greater connection to Source.

The clinical impact of the adjustment is profound. It has the ability to affect any manifestation of dis-ease in the body or mind. This is what differentiates an adjustment from a treatment. The scope is far beyond the removal of an uncomfortable or undesired condition. An adjustment is not limited to the linear thinking of the Educated mind. An adjustment takes as its starting point the premise that the the body is a connected, continuous, self-healing, self-regulating, living organism. The adjustment is delivered to integrate and enhance the expression of intelligence, health, wellness, and sanity in the physical form of the human being.

I use the word adjustment.
I offer the service of adjusting people, not conditions or stories.
I deliver this service.

The Moral Philosophy of William S. Preston, Esq.

Bill and Ted

Photo credit: IMDB.com

One of the more profound ethical imperatives to arise out of the late twentieth century was put forth by a young man from San Dimas, CA. William (“Bill”) S. Preston, Esq. was born into an upper-middle class home around the time of the Second Indochina War. The turmoil, both domestic and abroad, that led up to and followed this conflict would have likely played a role, albeit an unconscious one, in the young man’s perspective of the world.

William did not have a close relationship with his biological mother, as she had died in his early years. His father later remarried, and although William was much closer in age to his step-mother than his father was, he seemed able to have a civil relationship with her.

One of the consequences of the Reaganomic boom of the 1980s was more disposable income for middle class families. This indirectly provided the opportunity for a creative outlet for William, as he was gifted his first guitar at age 14. It was around this time that his lifelong friendship with Theodore Logan began and the two formed a band called “Wyld Stallions”.

The friendship of William and Theodore was a turning point not only in the context of William’s musical future, but also in his ability to discuss and refine what would become his moral philosophy.

Between the World Series upset of the Oakland Athletics by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, and the San Francisco Earthquake of 1989, a sequence of events occurred that would have a  ripple effect for the history of the past as well as the history of the future. It was during this adventure (see “Strange Things are Afoot at the Circle K (San Dimas 1989)” for a more in-depth look at this exploit) that William Preston’s ethical imperative was first pronounced.

“Be excellent to each other.”

Both concise and categorical, William Preston’s imperative contains within it a rich philosophical history, as well as unadorned direction.

He at once answers Hamlet’s metaphysical soliloquy with an existential affirmation. He transcends and includes Descartes’ cogito, not mere acknowledging that he is, but how we should be to one another, all the while simultaneously abrogating any question of solipsism.

Evidence does not suggest that William was directly acquainted with Aristotle. However, he was most certainly familiar with the historic and philosophical heritage passed forward to him from So-crates. Even so, we can see that William intuitively came to the same end as The Philosopher with his emphasis on arete, or excellence.

In Nicomachean Ethics, we are reminded, “arete then is a settled disposition of the mind determining the choice of actions and emotions…”. To this end, the excellence toward which William would have us strive reflects his own practice of focusing on what is important and taking the actions to achieve what is good and right.

Finally, no discussion that even hints at deontology would be complete without acknowledging Kant. Kant’s Categorical Imperative is the derivation of some of the most densely recorded philosophizing in the Western world. Ultimately, it boils down to this:

“Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”

Essentially, Kant would have us create rules for behavior that would be worthy only if we could wish that they apply to all people at all times. Only then would we be justified in acting.

The brilliance of William S. Preston’s imperative is that it not only conforms to Kant’s unconditional rule, but that it does so simply and elegantly. “Bill” Preston, in one line, consolidated centuries of philosophical thought to address one of the most important questions humankind has ever asked itself: “What are we supposed to do?”

Once we understand this, then, we may certainly –

Party on, dudes!

Imperative

DEMDC Riverwood

Riverwood Park Toms River, NJ

Go outside. Soften your eyes. Drop into the depth of your senses.

There is nothing backlit or bound here. There are no walls, no screens, and certainly no fluorescent lights.

Observe. Wait. Allow your mind to be quiet.

You will see patterns emerge.

The animal brain is wired to recognize patterns in the environment and in many ways is guided by instinct and learning to act according to those patterns. The human brain is an animal brain. And yet, we can observe these patterns in ourselves, in others, and in Nature. Consciousness enables us to observe, reflect, act with intention, and to develop and express will. It is this strange phenomenon that gives us the opportunity of choice.

Some patterns we understand, some we enjoy, some are constructive, and some appear to destroy. When we observe something we don’t understand, we call it chaos, something devoid of order. Chaos is merely a limitation in the perception of the observer to see the pattern. More often than not, it is the disorder of our own thoughts that colors the chaos we see around us.

One of the best ways to address the entropy of our mind is to go outside.

Be in Nature.

Go outside. Soften your eyes. Drop into the depth of your senses.

Our Choice

As the first named storm of the season weaves it way up the Atlantic coast, I find myself in the early gray of this July morning with the prospect of finally getting to surf. I feel like a dog must feel when it sticks its head out of the window of a moving car: ears back, head extended, as fully present in the multi-sensory experience of the moment as anything could ever be.

As I paddle out, warm rain sweeps across the surface of the cool ocean and the sound of the wind, the rain on the water, and slow crash of the waves creates a field of resonance, and I am in its center. I am no longer between different mediums of ocean, air, and land, as these have all blended into a singular aqueous experience, where although I am fully immersed in water, I can still breathe.

As salt water rushes through my nose and into my sinuses, my entire body remembers the first season I began to surf. The circuitry that wires your nose to your brain is ancient, and it ties directly into areas of the brain that create and elicit memory. Thirteen years ago, my introduction to the full-palate taste of Atlantic seawater, the rubbery musk of a wetsuit, and the mild sweetness of surfboard wax were planted into my consciousness and they have been there ever since.

The world has changed dramatically since 2001, and on this day, more than any other, we are reminded of the choices and the sacrifices of the first generation of people to call themselves Americans. Since their time, we have been engaged in a grand experiment. We have called this experiment democracy, and in the original documents laying the foundation for this experiment are some of the most powerful, concise, and bold words that have ever been recorded.

We are moved by the Declaration of Independence because we still believe that “All men are created equal,” we still believe that we have “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” and we know these truths to be self-evident.

And yet, over the course of our experiment, hubris and narrow-minded values have led to incongruence between our declared democratic values and the execution of defending, promoting, and actualizing these values both domestically and abroad.

As in the natural world, there are historical cycles of change and transformation. The opportunity to dramatically reorganize the parameters of our experiment is happening right now. Our choice is whether to embrace this change with creativity, dignity, and respect for all persons, present and future, or not. Will we pledge our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor to a perspective that is life-affirming, steeped in integrity, and grounded in respect for the planet and the beings that inhabit it? Or will we react in fear in an attempt to defend an unsustainable status quo that violates the truths we find self-evident and must practice with one another? This is our choice. The legacy we leave will be in how we treat ourselves, each other, and the only home we’ve ever known.