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Drug Free Zone

A group of Needham High school students enter my dojo (a Japanese word which means a sacred space of learning) to join in on our teen and adult Karate class. They are Health and Phys. Ed. dropouts who are opting out of those graduation requirements and opting in to Martial Arts instead. If they fully participate in two classes a week for the semester, do some supporting academic work and pass the first level of testing, they may get out of jail, er school, free. Truly the motley crew, who knew that they could do the dojo dance on their one last chance. This is especially true of a chubby guy with a long curly hairdo. Totally out of the blue, he would do his omwork and immediately apply the class lessons to his life too! That pilot program was a huge success for several years and several of those “incorrigible” classmates continued their conditioning with us and/or my teacher, Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, well beyond their requisite visit.
That creative solution to a common academic concern occurred about thirty years ago. Then, about twenty years ago, when I had shifted my teaching to these parts, totally out of the dark there appeared the chubby guy, this time as a hubby with his gal. They traveled from afar to be with our far eastern Karataka. Though only attending class on occasion through this last score, dropping in was a far cry compared to being at the door of dropping out as a teen. It was also obvious that Gary was continuing to apply the core of the curriculum to his life. Is not that a true score? Specifically, Gary took his guitar gifts on the road, responsibly. He toured for about twenty years, alcohol and drug free! The artist had created an alcohol and drug free zone around and within himself!
Gary played rock and roll with his band without the drugs and other addictions that seem to support that lifestyle and the performance and entertainment arts in general. To do that, he got into “The Zone” of performing through the application of the inner practice traditional to Asian Martial Arts. Simply learning to relax, center and ground went a long way for Gary in those early years. As he got older, added three children and teaching to his responsibility road, Gary took to Taiji as a way to feel the Qi and produce greater quality. Qi Gong (the practice of the life force) has a protective as well as a nurturing quality. There are many nefarious influences on the road and even at home that one may need to ward off with a strong energy field. Equally, there is great nourishment to be had by getting out there as well as in having a happy home. An essential element of Taiji Qi Gong practice is in moving toward and attracting nourishment and thereby evading toxicity.
Gary and I had four hearty hours together here recently. He is negotiating his way through a serious and shocking life crisis. He needs to summon his full potential in a way that he possibly never thought was possible. The inner work done well can transform into a love of life that raises one’s spirit of vitality to the point where clarity and wisdom create new meaning and purpose. Creativity is the craft. If what has been aft for Gary is any indication of what maybe fore, I’m looking forward to his new act. In fact, I even left him with some homework. Do the omwork. That omwork homework just may further synergize with the music magic of his professional tone works. So, here’s wishing well to my guy Gary, The Gary Backstrom Band and the love that bands us.