Friday, July 14, 2006

Friend in Need

When I started training in tang soo do last year, I started scrubbing the internet for information and history on our art. It's what I do -- when I become enamored (OK, obsessed) with something I tend to try to consume it, to immerse myself in information about it until I feel like I understand it better. Being a computer nerd, most of this process involved spending a lot of time Googling and reading other web sites that were concerned with martial arts in general and tang soo do in particular.

Which is how I stumbled across Kyo Sa Nim Bernard Redfield's Tang Soo Do discussion board. I'd spent some time reading another martial arts discussion forum, and was frankly a bit uncomfortable with contributing. It was all "egos on parade" -- not unexpected, I suppose. I mean, one of the main side effects of martial arts training is confidence, and if you couple confidence with alpha-male arrogance and add in group dynamics and the seeming anonymity of web posting, you can get a pretty vicious and noxious brew. The fact that Kyo Sa Nim Redfield specifically described his board as a "non-political" one leads me to believe that these were exactly the things he was trying to avoid. Plus he was a member of my organization, the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan. So, I sensed a bit of a kindred spirit.

Then I found out that he's a few years older than me, and lived just a few miles from my aunt and uncle in Connecticut. Now he's moved south, and will instead be living just a short drive from my in-laws in North Carolina. Odd coincidences all. Since I began training I've noticed a lot of these sorts of coincidences popping up in the people around me -- connections. Friends in common. Shared histories. And sometimes, I think you need to just accept that God, or the universe, or whatever, is just letting you know you're in the right place. So I've started to listen.

Anyway, I've corresponded with Kyo Sa Nim Redfield a bit, and in my head he's become something of my TSD training role model. While he's been doing martial arts far longer than I have, the fact that he's doing them and continues to do them so well and is so close to my age gives me some courage to push through the tough times. I wouldn't say we're friends: we've never met, never spoken, and our interactions have been almost solely related to martial arts discussions. But I think he' someone I'd enjoy meeting someday.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago KSM Redfield posted a request for prayers on his discussion board. His brother in law, Lou Genise, had just that evening been rushed to the hospital and was being operated on for what appears to be advanced colon cancer. Which has also apparently spread to his small intestine and liver. He'd tried to get checked out at a hospital last month and was given the bum's rush due to his lack of insurance. Since then what was previously just pain and discomfort had gotten significantly worse, and apparently he has since gotten insurance so when he was carried by his roommate into the emergency room they deigned to see him, diagnosed him, and scheduled emergency surgery.

Lou came through the surgery OK, but needless to say there's going to be a long and expensive road to recovery. Lou is an artist by trade who supplements his income with odd jobs. Obviously as he recovers from the surgery and undergoes the chemo to arrest the cancer his art and his odd jobs will be on the sidelines, which means ... no money to pay for a lot of the stuff he's going to need to actually recover. Ah, the catch 22 of our absurd American health care system. As usual, one's Constitutional rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" only apply to those who can pay for them.


Anyhow, Lou needs help. Go here and read a little about Lou -- if you're a friend of mine, I have a feeling when you read about this guy you're gonna dig him -- he sounds like a real trip. Maybe I can help get the word out better via this blog. I'm making a donation as soon as I finish here. Please consider doing the same, and if you can help spread the word then please do so however you can.

Sometimes I think it's important to remember that, in spite of our distances, we're all in this thing together.

Mood: Still a little melancholy
Now Playing: Jane Siberry, "A Collection: 1984-1989"

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