It’s such a big ocean to draw from, the world of books, that it gets me thinking. That led me to Art Garfunkel’s website for inspiration. Art has listed every book he has ever read, since 1968 and it’s prodigious. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan, but Simon & Garfunkel were a seminal generational influence and he has a lovely voice and the list is impressive. The list is strong in the classics, which really got me thinking. I was pleased with the number of books from his list I have read, but I am never going to finish War and Peace. And I defy anyone, including Art, to tell me they finished Moby Dick to the last page. Grueling. I love the redemption story of Les Miserable but after the first 100 pages or so it just gets interminable.

I’m just sayin’…..Which made me think of Zingerman’s Deli. They promote the concept of, “What do you like?” Not snooty foodie types telling you what you should like, but mission-driven, service-oriented business’ asking you. Person-centered! My recovery lifted off in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area, west of Detroit. Zingerman’s is a legendary delicatessen in A2. Legendary doesn’t convey. They have grown into 10 (11-12?) businesses, all in the area, instead of going for the bigger money by just spawning repeats or franchising. A bakery, coffee-roasting, a diner/restaurant, even a training/visioning wing. They felt the quality would suffer if scattered across the land. Their hallmark is quality, from the simple corned beef sandwich on rye to world-class fare from around the world. Plus service work, donating the seed money for Food Gatherer’s, a food rescue agency, providing 150 non-profits direct food assistance in the form of hot meals, nutritious snacks or emergency groceries to low-income adults, seniors and children in Washtenaw County. Early on Zingerman’s developed a relationship with my first work mentor, Dawn Farm, a Michigan addiction treatment center with an emphasis on the recovering community as the most important source of healing and recovery support, long established in A2. Zingerman’s is renowned for hiring graduates from treatment, providing a source of early employment for those emerging back into the work force.

 

133What also triggered thoughts of my favorite story is the return from Japan of Chris Budnick. He went to consult, discussing The Healing Place model of peer driven, long-term residential services and to teach his 12-Step/Mutual Aid history class he’s put together over the years. We mustn’t forget our history. BTW, The Healing Place has relationships with business’ in the Triangle that support and hire those in emerging recovery.

And the ideas of different cultures, especially the East, and what I like, all leads us to my favorite book of all, Noble House. A gripping/stellar tale, Noble House was James Clavell’s China story, which he began with Tai-Pan. For the Japanese side, his story begins with the estimable Shogun, a fascinating entry into another world. That introduction into Samurai culture led me to many history books plus the world of Asian film, with strong entries such as The Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, Yojimbo and Ghost Dog. The literary syntax is not Shakespearean but he can frame a sentence and the storytelling is nonpareil.

132And that’s really what I love, a compelling story that takes me out of my world and immerses me into another, particularly another culture. The best stories transport us into someone elses life. Because that is where understanding and community grow, when I walk a mile in their shoes. I think of that as the Middle East conflicts unfold, year after year. Underneath all the rhetoric is the idea that somehow Islam is our enemy and I simply do not buy that. I have known many Muslim’s, Islam is a peaceful path, and I simply do not buy that the majority of the 1.5+ billion Muslim’s in the world want to hurt our land. Anymore (I pray) than the majority of Americans want to bomb the Middle East. If I walk a mile in their shoes, they want the same as all peoples; good life and education for their children, a home for the family, community and freedom to practice their spiritual path in peace. Whatever the forces of war that whip up nationalism, we must resist by growing our understanding and remembering that all humans have way, way more in common than differences. Humanity’s destiny is to live and love in peace, sectarian ethnic polarizations aside.