What is a Langkah?

Langkah (Indonesian) - noun: literally step, move, pace, action, measure, stride, leap, foot, footstep, gesture, tread, footpace

In Indonesian martial arts, Pencak Silat, it commonly refers to geometric patterns on the floor used to train footwork and develop an understanding of the role of the lower body in maintaining balance and a base from which to generate power.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Respond, don't react.

At the corner of Indian Trail and Poplar Level, there sits a Rite-Aid pharmacy, and the intersection has a light. As I approached in the right lane, a small car pulled out of Rite-Aid, crossed in front of me, and whipped into the next lane over, then stopped at the red light.

In the left lane, just ahead of me, a guy rode a Harley. Harley had to slam on his brakes to avoid the small car as it swung into the lane in front of him. Harley then whipped over into my lane and pulled up next to the passenger window of the car to give the driver a piece of his mind.

While I understand why he was upset, his road rage nearly got him injured or killed when he cut me off to go yell at the driver of the other car.

If I had been paying a little less attention, I wouldn't have been able to stop when he whipped into my lane then stopped ~5 feet in front of me, well short of the line where he would stop for the light.

When you let your emotions blind you to your surroundings, you become part of the problem.

"Distracted driving" is the number one cause of traffic accidents in the U.S. Usually this means things like eating, grooming, texting, talking on the phone or to a passenger. However, it also means things like ignoring your surroundings because you're upset.

Wanna stay safe on the road? Keep your attention on the road and your surroundings. I know, it's easier said than done. Everyone gets distracted sometimes. But when you drive distracted, only luck prevents you from becoming a statistic. As such, save your luck for when something beyond your control distracts you.

The driver cutting the Harley rider off was beyond the Harley rider's control. Reacting to his anger and allowing it to distract him, though, was completely controllable if he had reined in his reaction for half a second to assess his surroundings before acting.

The Wandering Guru

"It's not the situation, but whether we react negative or respond positive to the situation that is important." -- Ellen Glasgow

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Son's Testimonial

In 1980, our family had a terrible car accident. Many of the EMS, fire, and police on the scene agreed they had never seen a wreck as bad as ours without at least one fatality.

We got T-boned by a guy who wasn't paying attention. We think, but couldn't prove, his pager went off, and he looked down at it, then pulled out without checking for traffic. Dad tried to avoid but failed.

Our car slid sideways until it hit the drop off at the edge of the shoulder, then it rolled three times into a cornfield. None of us wore seatbelts that day, but ours was the statistical anomaly where the lack of belts saved lives. The momentum threw mom from the car on the first roll.

The rolling threw me and my sister around in the back seat like rag dolls in a dryer. The car stopped, luckily, on its wheels. The passenger side of the roof had collapsed to the point where, had Mom or I worn seat belts, we would have been crushed.

The imploding windows lacerated Dad's right hand quite a bit. Susan and I had bruised kidneys from crashing around in the back seat. Mom suffered three fractured ribs, a broken femur, and a head injury. The head injury severely pinched a nerve, which caused her to have migraines nearly every day for the next 32 years, until she died in 2012.

As you might guess, the wreck devastated our family. Mom spent over a week in the hospital, much of that in intensive care. She had to quit her job as a teacher at Ivy Tech. Dad worked 16-hour shifts every day for weeks at a time and often worked holiday hours because he needed the overtime pay to make ends meet.

When Uncle David, Mom's kid brother, killed himself 6.5 years later, Mom's problems increased exponentially as she struggled to deal with his death. Our family dynamic shifted even more out of balance.

Through it all, Mom did the best she could. I admire her strength because the circumstances would have broken many people. She struggled, but she always took care of me and Susan. She raised two children who now serve their respective communities as successful and respected leaders and role models.

While Dad wasn't around physically as much as any of us might have liked, his presence was always there. He served as the bedrock foundation on which Mom raised us. I have little doubt that, without his steadfast, reliable nature, things would have spun out of control, and our lives would have been far less comfortable or fruitful, and that assumes they wouldn't have imploded completely.

One of the most amazing facts about Dad, though, was how he handled interactions with Mom. Mom was often difficult to deal with. Given the situation, no one could blame her, but a weaker man might have done so regardless. Dad never did. No matter how bad their disagreements got, and some of them were bad indeed, Dad never let it affect his love for Mom.

Sometimes, when she wasn't aware of it, I saw him look at her with a look of such loving devotion ... tears are running down my cheeks right now as I remember that look.

Dad stood by Mom through all the good times, all the bad times, and all the world-shattering horrible times. After Mom's death, Dad faded. Each time I visited, he was a little less present, though he always wore a brave smile.

Mom died on August 11, 2012. Dad died on February 11, 2014, 18 months to the day after Mom.

The Wandering Guru

"Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you." — H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Leo Casto, Jr.
Mary Diane Casto