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Look Two Ways on a One-Way Street: Food for Thought

Posted Oct 25 2008 4:48pm

9781590561393I'm still basking in the glow of a good time in NYC this week for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reception. As I mentioned, I met Bart Potenza, owner ofCandle Cafe and Candle 79. I liked him instantly.

We went to Candle 79 for dinner that evening, and while there, I picked up a copy of Bart's book ... Look Two Ways On A One-Way Stree t. I love the title because I do exactly that. Does anyone else?

Being an amputee, I've met too many people who have lost their leg(s) from being hit by cars, some in New York City. Interesting, huh? Most people only hear about these things, but when you hang out in prosthetic facilities (places where artificial legs are made) a lot, these happenings become real, because you actually meet these people. 

The title of Bart's book also resonates with me in another way. To me, it says to look beyond the obvious when we have problems that we can't solve. And that there are many ways of doing things and our options are open if we look around, not just one way. Because life isn't just a one-way street if you don't make it one!

This book contains Bart's favorite aphorism's. One of my favorites in the book is this poem:

Get Positive
Most of my life,
I've woken up happy.
Now I have to work
at being happy.
But that's OK:
I can make happy happen.

This is Bart's story about how he got the title:

Potenza_bart"The title of this book came to me sometime ago. At the time, I considered it a metaphor for the vagaries of life. Little did I know that it would also have a literal meaning for me. Early one New Year's Eve, I was crossing, as they say, 'in-between, not at the green' on a one-way street. I didn't look both ways — it was a one-way street, for goodness sake! — So I didn't notice a car backing up to park. My foot was in the way, the car backed over it, and i was tossed into the street. Luckily, there were no oncoming cars to finish me off. The injury itself was not serious — for a week or so, my foot felt a little uncomfortable and I lived to tell the tale.

The incident, however, was more than just one of life's vagaries. I took it to heart as one of life's important lessons, and it acts as if the overarching message of this collection of insights, anecdotes, philosophical musings, and sometimes silly sayings that first appeared as impromptu signs in the window of Candle Cafe, the restaurant on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan that I own with Joy Pierson, and that I've continued to post in the window and elsewhere for over twenty years. Most of the sayings are 'as is,' but a few I've had the chance to reflect on over the years and have changed things a little.

Why compile a book of sayings? Well you have my Dad to thank (or blame) for that! Whenever we kids complained about life's troubling twist and turns, Dad always said "it's in the book." Well, Dad here's the book, and, dear reader, here's to you! Salud!"

— Bart Potenza, New York City, March 2008

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