A Conversation In Norwalk

Friday. 12:30 pm. I’m hanging out at a Starbucks on Pioneer and Firestone in Norwalk.

I’ve drunk several iced green teas and I’m feeling good for the first time in a month.

Outside, the LA County Sheriff’s department has blocked off a street and its deputies have spread out. I assume they’re looking for a murder weapon.

I get into a conversation with a 28-year old hispanic named Raymond.

"Are you looking for work?"

That was his first question to me.

Is it that obvious?

No, I was not looking for work in that moment, but yes, I am looking for work. Blogging isn’t cutting it these days and some of my side jobs have dried up.

He’s online on his laptop.

He’s showing me craiglist.com.

He says he got laid off from Kaiser recently. He has an AA degree. He’s looking for work.

I say I’m a writer. I show him my website and my books. I show him my clip from 60 Minutes.

He thinks I’m famous enough that I should be able to land a good job.

I talk to him about Alexander Technique.

He wants to know what it is.

I answer: "It’s the difference between looking like a loser and feeling like a winner. Do you notice anything about the way I sit and stand?"

He says I have good posture.

I continue: "I’m poised. I’m tall. I’m straight. When I’m poised in my body, I’m emotionally poised. I’m not anxious or depressed or angry. I’m not contorting myself, constricting myself, holding myself down. I’ve regained the poise I had as a kid before I started going to school and learning bad habits. I’m taking up my full space in the world. Do you think that as long as I am tall and straight and taking up my full space in the world that I am going to be anxious or contemptuous or angry? No way.

"Every emotion has a particular alignment of the body. I was seeing a girl who had contempt for men, including me. So whenever we got together, I changed the way she was holding herself, and when I did that, she let go of the contempt, anger and depression that was previously characterizing her. She started purring like a kitten and was a lot more pleasant to be around. When I’d see her contort her body in a way that screamed she was about to launch into a diatribe, I moved her hands away from her hips and she was able to talk normally, rather than lecture angrily.

"When you are poised in your body, you are going to be poised emotionally and in your thinking. It’s hard to feel angry or appalled when you are at your full length.  If I’m graceful in the way I use myself, I’m going to be emotionally graceful.

"If I were defeated in my body, I’d be defeated in my thinking. When people hold on to their stories, hold on to their victimhood, you can see that defeat in their bodies. If you bring them out of the ways they hold themselves down, they will take on a new attitude. They will be less attached to their needless limits.

"If I hold myself in a way that looks defeated, that looks thrashed, how do you think I’ll feel? How do you think I’ll think? How do you think I’ll relate to others? If I feel joy in my body, free in my body, I’m going to feel freedom when I relate to others."

He asked me if I was a guru. If I was a Buddhist.

"No, man," I said, "I’m an Orthodox Jew."

"Jews," he said. He was grappling with the fact that he was dealing with a poor Jew. "Jews, don’t they own much of Las Vegas?"

"Jews tend to rise to the top of any society," I say.

"Is it because of the Holocaust?" he asks. "That spurs them on?"

"No," I say. "It’s not because of the Holocaust. It’s because of the habit that Judaism inculcates. A love for education, and a commitment to work and to family and to delaying gratification. I’m part of an Orthodox Jewish community. Today I have a job driving around a fellow Orthodox Jew with bad feet. I know him from my Jewish community. When he needed help, he turned to me."

"Hispanics don’t help each other out much," he said. "If one of us is successful, he keeps that to himself."

We talk about girls. Raymond admits that he’s shy.

"You have to be verbal if you’re going to succeed with women," I say.

He wants to know if I have a woman. I say yes. He asks to see a picture. I Google her name and show him.

He approves.

I show him how to have a good head-neck relationship and then I leave for lunch.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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