I do not want to make this blog about me. But in order to express my interest in community, I need to provide some background about myself. I moved to Atlanta in October of 2018, leaving behind all that was known to me in my community, and started a new chapter in my life. In December of 2019, I opened IPA Physio Atlanta in a region where no one was familiar with my treatment philosophy or skills. From 2007 to 2018, I dedicated myself to continuing my education in the field of orthopedic physical therapy. This journey included obtaining my doctorate in physical therapy, Functional Manual Therapy/Spinal Manipulation/Dry needling certifications, earning the Diploma Osteopractor and acceptance into the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists as a fellow.
As one can imagine, working two jobs and studying to enhance my manual therapy skills, there was limited time for leisure activities. Sure, I kept up with my friends, spent time with my mother once a week for the typical Italian family night, and carved out time to exercise daily. But I never truly had time to read a book or reflect on its knowledge and lesson. Fast forward to the present day, and I am continuing to work two jobs. I am starting a private practice whilst exercising diligently. You would think there isn’t time for much else. But that’s not correct, I’m reading books that have been recommended by my peers on topics outside of the realm of physical therapy and medicine journals I’ve been so accustomed to indulging in for professional gain.
Lessons from Outliers
I’m reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell. I’ve heard so many great comments about this author and his insights on society and human interactions. The experience of listening to him for the first time in recent months on his Revisionist History Podcast provided me with an unbiased take on historical events. Gladwell’s story telling capabilities brought to light details not portrayed in historical stories. His voice is soothing, and his passion is genuine. I can imagine him speaking to me as I read this book.
It was not until I finished reading Outliers that I realized the lesson is actually in the introduction of the book. Gladwell writes about a town in Pennsylvania settled by Italians from Resetto, Italy. They were studied because they lived long lives and were not stricken with heart disease like so many of the surrounding areas. Their lifestyle consisted of a typical Italian diet with meat, pasta, and dessert. They drank wine and didn’t really exercise all that much. So how did they outlive their cohorts and avoid heart disease? Community.
What is Community
Community defined by the Webster Dictionary refers to a unified body of individuals, such as a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests. They had this inherent network of a community, inviting and friendly, which researchers believe led to a level of “healthiness” in their hearts and souls.
Where is your community? Where is my community? Since relocating to Atlanta, I have had to seek out and join new communities. I joined a Crossfit box and have developed relationships with my physical therapy peers. Upon opening my clinic, I moved in with a fellow Crossfit coach and she and her son have created a pseudo-family community to spend time with.
Benefits of Community
I’ve always held this envy of the Jewish faithful as they exemplify the importance of community. Although until recently I had not known what I was envious of. Back in Providence, RI, Boston, MA and here in Atlanta, GA the Jewish community is a strong one, present in everyday life. The military personnel also speak to this sense of community and add a level of comradery amongst themselves. Although the military lifestyle comes with higher risks, there is still sisterhood/brotherhood that exists. And I believe that shared understanding strengthens their community. They support and care for each other, working to achieve a common goal. I’m willing to wager a bet that, they live healthier, longer lives than those who exist without a community to live in and lean on.
When we are examining our health and lifestyles, attention should be directed toward the community aspect of it. Who do you share time, beliefs and feelings with? During these unprecedented times, our social interactions have been restricted to the confines of our homes. I have come to appreciate my new communities and also recognize the desire to increase my involvement in them. Healthy diet, exercise 30-60 minutes a day, and get proper rest but our social interactions and sense of community remain just as important. Missing this sense of community appears to be detrimental to our health and well being and furthermore may be more vital to a long, healthy life.