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  • Writer's pictureSpencer Bennington


Welcome back to the Rhetorical Roundhouse blog, your home for martial arts studies, rhetoric, and Tae Kwon Do. Last week I made some allusions to How I Met Your Mother so be sure to check that out for all your summer mental wellness self-help needs :P

This week I'm shifting gears to get a little sappy--I'm going to talk about my hometown! I get on a plane tomorrow for Danville, VA, the official last capital of the confederacy. Womp womp... Not a great legacy, to be sure, but it's home.


Here's the deal--everybody has skeletons in the closet, every family has some shady characters, and every small town has its fair share of regrettable histories. But, it's all a matter of perspective. A few years ago, I worked as an intern for the Danville Regional Foundation (DRF) and lead a project designed to market the city for young professionals. This resulted in five TV commercials as well as some longer web interviews courtesy of the talented Von Wellington, filmmaker extraordinaire. If you didn't know any better, these productions would have you believing that Danville really was the place to relocate, a city on the rise.

Definitely not a one-horse town. There's clearly two in this photograph.


In case you're curious how these turned out and what my silly cameos look like, check them out below! Tell me you're not ready for a visit...



"Fitness and Recreation"


"Art in the Region"



Why is this important? Because I couldn't have directed these commercials if I didn't have some real love for my dinky, derpy, deep-fried hometown. Yes, I know where all the crack streets are, I know where to find all the secret entrances are to the abandoned textile mills, and I can point out all the churches are that love a good Harry Potter book burning...but that doesn't mean I haven't spent just as much (if not more) time looking at all the beautiful parts of my town. The quiet hills in the back of Ballou Park where I skipped so many senior year classes. The cool water of the Dan river when your buddy gets a little over-excited in the canoe. The wooden porch swing at Mama's house in a dusky concert of lightning bugs.

Families are just like hometowns--they're full of things that embarrass you, but it's hard to not love them anyway. There have been times in the past, especially since I moved to Florida, that trips home to Virginia have been...stressful. Exhausting even. But the truth is, that's all on me. That's all under my control. So when I go home tomorrow, it's with the focused mindset that I'm going for a purpose, and I'm going because I want to go.

I'm going home to reconnect with my source. To remember where I came from. To take a closer look at what made me. A big part of all this is spending some real time with my Mom and Dad. If you've paid close attention to the Rhetorical Roundhouse Poomsae Poetry Series, you're likely aware how often my Mom and Dad come up.

In fact, my interpretation of form seven, Taegeuk Chil-Jang, is inspired by the way I see my Mom. Form seven celebrates the Gan principle of palgwe. This concept asks us to focus on decisiveness and reminds us that stillness and silence are conscious decisions just like action and language are. When I struggle with making decisions (which I do a lot) I always think of my mom's ability to act in times of struggle. The Gan principle also invokes steadfastness, commitment, and resoluteness--when you make a decision, see it through. Just like the mountain firmly roots itself to the earth, committing to stillness, my Mom commits to love and devotion to family, no matter the cost.

My interpretation of form 8, Taegeuk Pal-Jang, is inspired by how I see my Dad. Form 8 is designed to embody the principle of Gon, the pure receptive force. In Chinese cosmology, this is usually represented by feminine, nurturing symbols, like the Earth itself as a place of growth. The reason I identify this principle as belonging more to my Dad, however, is because of something he always told me growing up. He always stressed the importance of listening carefully, meditating, and waiting patiently to receive the wisdom of the universe. Despite his jocular demeanor, he's a very spiritual guy, scotch or no scotch.

Why am I saying all this? Why the sudden nostalgia and rehashing of old videos? Because this week I'm resolving to take a real vacation, a kind of retreat. One where I take time to really listen and reflect on all the lessons my hometown and my family have to teach me. With any luck, after a week, I'll have a renewed sense of clarity, one that will allow me to make some critical decisions for my future.

I'm also hoping that Mom and Dad will play camera crew so I can record some new resource videos for the 10,000 Kicks blog section--my sidekicks STILL need a lot of work. If nothing else, expect another blast from the past next week as I begin recounting my martial arts journey beginning at Master Kelvin Miller's Olympic Tae Kwon Do Academy in Danville--hopefully I'll get a chance to visit and kick a little :)

Until then, thanks for reading. I hope you find the space/time for reflection this summer. Remember, going home isn't the same thing as going back.


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