Red's Place

At the start home from a recent jaunt to Amish Country in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania we gassed up at Red's Place. We only discovered after the fact that it was called Red's place, and a whole wonderful story it turned out to be.

Above is Mr. Red Hisself. Mr. Ronald E. "Red" Proudfoot, for the record. He has been the owner/operator of the eponymous full service car care establishment since 1977. The place itself goes back to 1935 when it first opened as Troy Hill's Sterling Super Service Station in 1935. Sterling was a brand of the Quaker State Oil Company. You know; Sterling, as in Jolly Old England Sterling. In the photo above next to Red is an original gas pump light from the era.

If you read the newspaper announcement you will see that a "car service station" back in the day was something new and special. Not the kind of full service gas stop we have currently come to expect . . . with coffee  make that coffees  any kind of donut, sandwiches and the prerequisite Slim Jims. To name just a very small few. Quiche even, if you please.

You can feel the pride of ownership and spirit of service in the newspaper advertisement. Red Proudfoot carries on in that fine tradition. He and his establishment are testament to small businesses and the kind of pride of service you don't see coming much from corporate America. But, then again, Red's didn't feature a cornucopia of tasty delights. Just gas, oil, and grease. Replacement wiper blades, belts, and oil filters. 

We came to discover all this by coincidence. After I got a read on the recent winter weather chatting the man up as he filled the tank — that's right, he filled the tank  I went inside the service station to pay my bill. By the way, the place is the same as in the above picture, except for a modern weather canopy out in front covering the gas pumps. And, of course, the prices have gone up a bit since 1935. If you're a self-service type, there's also a facility for that; but, next door around the corner.

My first sense on entering the front office was a sensory overload of what for me is the quintessential aroma of a proper service station: an exquisite mixture of the heady scents of oil, grease, and rubber; with a faint whiff perhaps of gasoline. And, the mysterious compounding of these elements over the course of many years. I called for Michele to come out from the car and come inside to share the experience of what a "proper service station" smells like. (If you take your shoes in for repair at a small proprietor shop, you also know the wonders of the perfume of leather, glue, and rubber. Or, the intoxicating scent of tire rubber at a fully stocked bicycle shop in the middle of summer, sans air conditioning.)

Looking around inside the service bay opposite the office is a wall of license plates from all over and different years. "There's a story to every one of them" we were told. 

The one from New Mexico on the right was from a lady who was travelling through, on her way to relocating in Maine. Hot and dry to cold and wet, I observed. Well, Red asked for the plate and the thoughtful women mailed it to him from her new home in Maine. If you visit Red's yourself, be sure to examine the collection and pick up another story for yourself.

I didn't ask, but the huge old street signal box is probably quite a story in itself. You know the drill: Red is for stop, green is go. Yellow, go really fast. 

I took liberties with the photo image and added some illumination. 

One last thing to mention, you'll see a collection of metal signs at Red's. Notice the date on the Coca-Cola sign.

Thanks Red. 

See you next time.

Don't Waste Gravity

A Waste of Gravity

When you’re tuned in to how to correctly cooperate with gravity, you’re tuned in to the world. Tuned in, not as an idea, but as a lived experience. Not as a concept, but as a percept.

Gravity is an ineluctable environmental fact. But would you believe it if someone told you the force of gravity is on the leading edge of the ecological frontier? What? What? Understandably, the force of gravity is so steady and ever-present we are inured to it, unconscious to its presence.

Well then, consider something that is as plain to see as a mud fence. What we observe walking around every day around us is a wide variety of patterns of use of the human body which, to one extent or another, show signs of being at odds with the simple architectural dictates of gravity. Coming straight to the point, the doctor diagnoses your condition: “Out of Whack.”

The human body is like any other physical structure on earth. Architects and building trade workers know that things need to be “plumb and square” to hold together, to work properly, to last. The anatomical design of the human body calls for the same. Things need to be stacked up vertically, level, and symmetrical. In that correct, or normal stance, you experience living effortlessly upright, unstressed, easy, and free. Thing power, presence, grace. Capable, spacious,fluid. As the writer Scott Russell Sanders who was quoted in Reader's Digest so elegantly phrased it, “When the bubble is lined up between two marks etched in the glass tube of a level, you have aligned yourself with the forces that hold the universe together.

On an everyday basis, however, we are mostly living with only a rough approximation of what the design of the body calls for in terms of correct or normal adaptation to the force of gravity. And when I say “mostly” I’m saying that it is rare to see the kind of grace and ease and power and presence manifest in our fellow men and women. When we do see it we are naturally moved by those manifest qualities. We recognize it as our birthright. We want it for ourselves. 

The situation of our species-wide lack of adaptation to the requirements of the force of gravity may never get recognized as such, and thus continues to self-perpetuate until and unless there is an intervention to alter its pattern. Most people function in an endless recursive feedback loop of fixated bodily patterns and regularly elicited feelings and emotions. Those patterns get set in over time because they continue to reflexively prompt the same sets of feelings and emotions which formed them in the first place. For most of us living vertically upright and balanced in the makeup of our bodies is still over the horizon as an evolutionary potential. 

My aim in writing this is to make it visible on that horizon. Like when Columbus sailed to the New World, the story goes that the natives did not see the ships; only the wise elders saw. 

Another way to express it is that we are shaped by our experiences, set in our ways. And, few of us question whether this is necessary or that anything can be done about it. We take it as a given. We become identified with those patterns ingrained into the fabric of our bodies. Attached. Literally. You could draw the analogy of a bird on a branch: “perched” there, holding on for support. We maintain the body patterns which got fixed into the fabric of our flesh which are a result of our individual unique history of bad habits, limited training, and accidents and traumas. This goes on all the time without pause and thus becomes our inadvertent default state.

We relate to it unquestioningly as if it is somehow genetically ordained. We leave it at, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” Or, “I was born that way.” We put up with living below our potential, robbed of vitality, energy diverted into maintaining imbalanced structural arrangements in the make-up of our bodies. These put a damper on productivity, physical performance and mental capacity, and creative expressiveness.

What’s worse, over time our bodies become fixed into patterns based on repetitive use. Imbalanced patterns betray our ignorance of gravity. We live at odds with the upright and level equipoise so very clearly called for in the human anatomical design. 

This need not be. At least in that respect, you weren’t born that way. Just that some bad habits may have set in, and some accidents and traumas haven’t been fully processed. And, oh yes, and who taught you how to walk, to stand, to sit? You went to school and learned so many things; but, on the point of how to use your body correctly — which, by the way, is at the center of all you do — you were mainly self-taught. The models on which we’ve patterned ourselves probably wouldn’t be getting any prizes as examples of correct body balance themselves. Mother didn’t always know best, every time.

Now that you know . . . don’t waste the opportunity with gravity! Your date is waiting on the doorstep.

Nevertheless, unless you’re a rocket scientist or drop the teacup, gravity gets little attention on an everyday basis. Understandably, the pull of gravity is so constant and ever present we easily become unconscious to it. What’s more, the very real survival issues presented these days by other ecological concerns already in our face may make the question of gravity — and the consequences of the ways we are misusing gravity — seem less urgent. Maybe even meaningless. So much so, it’s probably not even on the radar. So easy to let slip by. “Don’t waste gravity!” “What. Huh? Next?”

It is arguable, however, that becoming conscious and actively engaged in our lived relationship to gravity will have far reaching effects in all aspects of our lives. Not the least of which would be an awakened awareness and engagement with those other pressing matters at or soon to be at our doorstep. Simply put, when you’re tuned in to how you yourself operate in the gravitational field of the Earth, you get tuned in to the world. As a colleague used to love to say, “What we need around here is a firm grasp of the obvious!”

Yet we waste a great opportunity and lose productivity because we ignore it. Not to mention how this depresses the general quality of our life experience, and limiting performance and creative expressiveness. For want of access to our native inner resources we lack the creativity for adapting effectively to change and seeing the road clear to improving our ecological stance on the Earth. 

What to do?

Well, my preference is you call me and book an appointment to start a series of Rolf Structural Integration. Or, at least give some thought to how the way the makeup of your body and its imbalances affect your health, vitality, performance, and expression. Once you make the connection and come to the conclusion that you’d be better off in balance and in line with gravity, you’ll know what to do. Like a moth to the flame.

If you’re not reaching for the telephone right now, here are sometips to get you going in the right direction.

And, when you are ready to get it done call a professional trained in Rolf Structural Integration. 

That is, if you REALLY want to LIVE!