In June 2015, I was traveling with three of four children to a “listening” therapy in Toronto, Canada. We read about it in Dr. Doige’s best selling book, “The Brain’s Way of Healing,” and were hoping to help a child with ADHD, another with ADD and a third struggling with depression. After spending a few years and loads of money on conventional and alternative treatments of all kinds, traveling 2500 miles for a month of the summer to give it a go seemed more reasonable than resignation to life altering brain challenges. I was tolerating cramped living quarters in a strange city, traveling by subway every single day to drag unwilling children to a therapy they all insisted was bollocks.
I was running on faith and what-the-hell. For several hours each day, as I waited for them, I wrote in my journal. Journaling has been a lifelong mode of therapy for me. Every so often, something pours out that captures more than I intended. On June 26, I noticed and noted right angles and right-er curves.
“I’m sitting in the sun on the front steps, bleached and worn, listening to Frank Sinatra wafting out of a “vintage video” shop. Little Dude’s hearty laughter careens out the top floor windows while playing a game with some other kids in the therapy room. All are wearing headphones.
Hard to believe we’ve been gone 12 days already. Starting to get used to the routines and subway labyrinth. Little Dude doesn’t complain every day about going home anymore. He seems to get that we are here for him.
I’m sad that Honest Ed’s is closing. Apparently, he owns many of the buildings in this area and has given cool shops very cheap rent for years. All of this will be replaced by high rent buildings and apartments. The Listening Center is looking for a new home but may not be able to afford this area.
I was able to find everything I needed at Honest Ed’s today. Headphones. Visine. Swim goggles. Even Canadian lanyards. Though the lighting (fluorescent) is awful, I am more appreciative of this establishment, the history, how integral it is to the diversity of this neighborhood. Without it, things are going to get very high-end very quickly.
I wonder where the elderly, who are walking slowly to the corner markets, are going to go? They see others and are seen here. Not isolated in a gated complex from all the exchange of information and life.
We are fed from boxes. The television feeds us sanitized and carefully orchestrated news. The grocery store sells us food processed to sit on shelves and keep us buying more nutrient deficient foods packaged with lies. Buildings where we live and work are boxes. Four walls, a ceiling and floor, all uniform and predictable. Controlled. Controllable.
We shut of our senses because they are not needed.
(modern) Life is a box. Right angles. Black and white. Tidy and efficient. We are born in a box and die in a box. We transport ourselves and our things in boxes. Watermelons are now boxes. Gardeners want to plant in boxes. Writers write on rectangles and in boxes of links, bits and bytes.
In this world of squares, how radical to be round.
Round moves. Flows. Creates. Changes. Round is water and earth. Quakes, blossoms and bee lines. Clocks ticking and shady breezes.
Square is safe.
Round is hope.
Square is timely.
Round is inspired.
Square is predictable.
Round is innovative.
Machine is square.
Human is round.
The tattered, worn signs at Honest Ed’s tell a story that began in a creative bubble of a man and became the landmark blocks in a neighborhood drifting through generations of change. The edges, stairs, beams and ceiling drag in dull imperatives, traffic burned through and faded. Looking closer, the broken steps and peeling railings reflect the millions of lives swinging through the turnstiles, digging for the pennies earned and found. To trade a dollar for something. Basic. Brands and image fed to glossy glassy cubes inside capitalistic temples.
Here, in the hood, your toothpaste or frying pan, a baby’s gown or your uncle’s dinner are not symbols of your success but simple needs afforded. So more of what you do matters.
The exchange of goods at any level impacts our shared resources. This imbalance needs a greater circle in our hearts and minds.
But for this block in a city, one man’s dream was much more than a square. And his departure leaves a sea of small rafts in its’ wake. While I hope the new management shares Ed’s values, it’s more likely they want to see a profitable return. Efficient, predictable boxes.
And the people who roll and swirl beyond tidy boundaries may spill out. Where will they go? Where will they land? The tides and currents of time will tell.