Needed All Over

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February 15, 2019, Blythe-

I  refer above to Love, itself.  Today has brought an increase in saddening, troubling news from many parts:  The slaughter of at least five people in Aurora, IL; severe flooding in southern California; flu and other respiratory ailments, hitting many families with whom I am in communication.  These, plus what I noted in yesterday’s post, occupy my thoughts and prayers.

I am here in this eastern California desert town, with wind gusting around 30 mph, on occasion. It’s not raining here, yet.  Near San Diego are some people who mean everything to me, and who are in dire straits.  I am in communication with one of them, and will do whatever the family needs.  There are, at present, many resources available to help those in danger, and I am a long way from being a Superhero, so the bounds of sanity apply here-fear not.  Nonetheless, I love these kids dearly and will not let them slip through the cracks.  I would do the same for any number of people, should the need arise.

That said, I am keeping an eye on Prescott and northern Arizona, as well.  We may well have quite a time of it, early next week. Stay tuned, and stay connected.

In The Blood

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February 14, 2019-

It’s been a rough few days- with a dear friend falling and suffering some serious injuries, another friend diagnosed with cancer and still others with chronic illnesses, not getting any better. The weather here has been rambunctious- soaking rain, a good thing in the long run, has fallen steadily for the past thirteen hours.  More is on the way, followed by snow in the latter part of this weekend.

I have had much time to reflect on the nature of love, on this day of cards and chocolate.  I have to look at myself, as always. I don’t hold grudges; if a person who savaged me later comes to me in need, I find a way to help meet that need.  I have made terrible errors in judgement- and find it critical to make amends to the person, where possible.  I don’t always feel loved, and have to then look at what I am projecting outward.

Love shows itself in a myriad ways-the bottom line being that the beloved feels the goodness of heart.  Words alone are not one of those ways.  Neither is merely providing a place of residence: Slavemasters, after all, provided a home of sorts, for those who were frequently brutalized.  Constantly abusing another, and getting by with apologies, is NOT love.

Love is in the blood.  My parents’ love for us came naturally and never receded.  The same is true of my love for my late wife, and for our child.  Suffice it to say, any children coming from his own marriage will find three truly loving grandparents standing behind their mother and father.

Love is in the blood.  Any way I can help a suffering friend, I will.  Grand gestures, though, have to be kept to a minimum.  Those are the first things, upon which a hater or critic will seize, as evidence of one’s fecklessness.   I’ve had that thrown in my face, more than once, and sometimes rightfully.

Love is in the blood, and thus can’t be erased easily, if at all.

The Quiet Ones

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February 13, 2019-

My high school yearbook entry, in 1968, included “Silent, but always there”. So it has been for much of my life.  If I haven’t had anything I felt was meaningful to say, much of the time, I’ve kept still.  Those who need constant noise and chatter, so as to not feel insecure, have often drawn the conclusion that I am some sort of dolt.  My autism certainly has not done anything to change that view.  Only time and acquaintance have dispelled the dim view, in all but three instances.

Last night, a relatively brief gathering found me in a quiet, introspective, frame of mind, with little to say.  One person asked my thoughts about my current employer; his eyes glazing over, when my reply went in a different direction than what he had been thinking.  Others seemed to feel like I was snubbing them, but that was far from the case.

The thing about the quiet ones is that we are in constant thought, and observation, about what is going on in our midst.  I will ever be concerned with what is going on around me.  I may not have the same perspective as those who are seeking confirmation of their own views, and so the turnstile will continue to revolve, here in the blogosphere, as well as in real time.  That’s fine-as my first responsibility is to be true to my own heart.  The Infinite has set a course for each of us, in that direction:  “Go placidly amid the noise and haste….”.

The quiet ones will always have much to say, and much that is meaningful, regardless of the tenor of the times and regardless of what thoughts are current, trendy.  Listening to us does require that one’s own inner noise gets turned down a notch. Rest assured that is the case, with our listening to you.

 

Honest Abe and the First Nations

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February 12, 2019-

It is human nature to approach, and evaluate, other people by the same standards one holds to oneself.  It takes a lot of open-mindedness, and patience, for the average person to view people of different cultures as those of different cultures view themselves.  When  homogenization of cultural viewpoint takes deep root in a nation’s dominant culture, there is the appearance, if not the reality, of racism.

From thence, has risen the persistent assessment of people not of the dominant culture as being somehow inferior to those assimilated to said culture.  President Abraham Lincoln, on several occasions, hosted First Nations delegations, at the White House, during various points during his Presidency.  His purpose was to encourage them to assimilate into “the Christian culture of the majority of American citizens.” , as he regarded traditional ways of the nomadic among the indigenous peoples, and their non-Christian traditional Faith Communities, to be just shy of barbaric.

Not addressing the more than 200 years of atrocities committed by Europeans against both First Nations people and African-Americans, in the contiguous territory of the United States, and the nearly 200 earlier years of brutality against people of colour in other parts of the Americas, Mr. Lincoln, perhaps pre-occupied with the Civil War, found time to carefully evaluate, and dismiss all but 38 of the cases against 302 Lakota fighters, for alleged atrocities against the settlers of European descent, in the newly admitted State of Minnesota, during the six-week Dakota War of 1862.  Those 38 men were executed, in the largest non-combat execution act in U.S. History.

His record is far murkier, and less circumspect, with regard to the Sand Creek Massacre, in Colorado 1864 and the Long Walk, of Dineh and Inde (Navajo and Apache) people, from their traditional lands to Boque Redondo, in eastern New Mexico, beginning in 1863.  The Homestead Act and Pacific Railway Act of 1862 made settlement by European-Americans easier, and movement of goods far more efficient, but made no consideration, at all, of the needs of First Nations residents.

In fairness, Lincoln sincerely believed in the importance of  “civilizing” the First Nations people, which the leaders of those Nations, far from being ignorant or savage, viewed as both ironic and ludicrous, given the “brother against brother” reality of much of the “War Between the States”.  Cochise and, later, Geronimo,  saw the propensity for fighting among all groups in the Southwest as being pandemic:  Whites against whites, whites and Mexicans against each other, both groups against First Nations-and vice versa,

Lincoln espoused forward-looking policies towards southern slaves, primarily to ruin the economy of the Confederacy, whilst viewing people of African descent as being “legally” 3/5 of a free white man and viewing indigenous people as only worth the price of the land from which they might be removed-unless they became Christian. Abraham Lincoln was a man of his times, and can’t really be judged solely by the standards of our own imperfect era, however much more enlightened we might like to view ourselves.  He does not, however, deserve to be regarded as a universal emancipator of all those who were being persecuted during his tenure.

My own view is that people of various groups are more alike than different and that we, of each group, have more to learn from one another than we have to impart on others.  This, I have learned, consistently, from visiting many areas of this country-and some parts of other countries.

Terms of Endearment

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February 10, 2019-

For no apparent reason, I have been thinking of the ways in which I have tended to address people, over the years.  There is usually a tendency to call people my age or older by the name with which they introduce themselves, or honourifics (Sir, Mr. ______, Mrs. or Ms. ______________, Ma’am).  At work, I use names with titles, as an example for the students to follow.   Younger men are either called by their preferred name or “Bud”. Younger women are, more and more, called by their preferred name-but there is still “Sweetheart”, towards those with whom I feel a particular bond.  “Baby” is infantilizing, and “Honey” is a term best used by a significant other-so these have been sent to the Island of Shopworn Derogatives.  Profane names are not an option.

In any case, all people are entitled to be addressed in the manner that they choose, when in a dignified frame of mind.  I don’t take being corrected, personally, ever.  Now that that’s out of the bag, I wish one and all a fabulous Sunday evening-and a Happy Valentine’s Week.

A Desert Sort of Sway

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February 9, 2019, Chandler, AZ-

After my satisfying Saturday morning routine, I headed down here, to this bustling eastern suburb of Phoenix, to take in several hours of  Arizona Roots, a music and art festival that smashes the monotony of winter in the desert.  I was clued to this event by one of my friends from last Fall’s Convergence at Arcosanti.

I didn’t find her there, but I did find the sort of atmosphere that I experienced at Convergence, albeit a loving atmosphere, writ large.  Instead of dozens of gentle souls crammed into a room, there were several hundred crammed into the area in front of the Main Stage.

There were artisan ensembles, like The Clint Stevens Band, just getting together and having some laid-back fun.  Then, there was the mix of serious message and hakuna matata, from J-Boog and Rebelution, who did the Main Stage proud, while I was in its midst.

Although everyone there was a “total stranger” to me, it was easy to revert to Convergence dance form, and alternately bounce up and down, sway back and forth, and flash the Hawaiian thumb and pinky greeting at Jarell, whilst he was leading J-Boog, in a feisty 55-minute set of heartfelt reggae.

 

Here is one of their signature songs, about a lovely Hawaiian lady who makes J’s heart sing.

I felt none of the awkward “Really, old dude” self-talk that made me feel, initially, like a duck out of water, at Convergence. It helped to remember what a great time I had there, after letting that pointless crap go.  So, I enjoyed 3 1/2 hours of “anonymous camaraderie”,  that evokes what I probably missed at the great music festivals of the ’60’s and ’70’s.  I had a lovely time, without any recreationally-enhancing substances.  To be sure, these were flowing, and wafting, quite freely. I’m goofy enough on my own, and remember what a horror show I was, as a drunk and as a stoner, before 1981, and sobriety.  Here is the scene, as J-Boog worked their magic.

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As I was entering the grounds, Rebelution was in mid-set.  The mid-afternoon crowd wasn’t quite revved up, as yet.20190209_161757[1]

Next time, I know to check for Early-Bird ticket prices, in mid-November.  A scalper, in the parking lot, offered me a “two-days for one” deal, which showed desperation.  I did not have any intention of sharing my PI with him, or anyone else on the street, and I have other commitments for tomorrow, so I passed.  I hope to make it for both days, a year from now, as these sorts of gatherings are good for my soul-and this is, for good measure, the largest such event I have attended, without being spooked.  I’d say that’s a very good sign.

 

The Indissoluble Bond

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February 8, 2019, Chino Valley-

Every second and fourth Friday evening, God willing, a group of us gathers at the home of two dear friends, here in this town, 15 miles north of Prescott.  We share a meal, then indulge in drumming and chanting, with a flautist accompanying much of the music.

There is, of course, conversation before, after and in between the musical selections.  One of the members of the group shared the traditions and teachings of the Cherokee of North Carolina, explaining that there has been some divergence within the tribe, with regard to dialect and certain customs, as a result of the Trail of Tears and its resulting geographic isolation, of one group from another.

He performed a traditional Cherokee blessing, prior to the meeting’s end.  This is shared below, as performed by another vocal group.  I see similarities with other cultures, from Keltic Irish to Zulu, in terms of blessings wished upon visitors and loved ones.  We each noted that there is an essential tie between humans, both regardless of physical distance and regardless of separation by time.

I can feel an almost palpable connection, with my maternal grandfather, who I never met and with paternal ancestors, who I have been assured are watching over me constantly, from the distance of several hundred years.  Likewise, among those who live hundreds, or thousands, of miles away, I feel an unbreakable bond-though we may see one another once, or not at all, in the course of this earthly life.  Whether through genetic memory or a spiritual envelope, the ties have been, and continue to be, unbreakable.

The bonds that some try to break, out of fear, narcissism or ignorance, can never really be broken.  We are at a stage, in our human evolution, when connections are, or are about to be, seen for their true nature:  Indissoluble.

Intensity

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February 7, 2019-

I’m still working on channeling my intensity, properly.  Most of my difficulties, as an autistic person, have come from not knowing when to dial back a bit.  Fortunately, the progress I have made on this issue has come, courtesy of supervisors, friends and family who have been direct with me, without the cruelty that has come from others with narcissistic agendas of their own.  I appreciate direct feedback, IF it is related to better doing the task at hand or concerned with my being a more whole human being.

I have, over the years since Penny passed, on occasion been drawn to women who befriended me, and, misreading their actions and statements, went off on  woefully wayward tangents.  Nowadays, I am supremely careful, along those lines. I remain a person of intense feelings, and these are more being channeled towards the well-being of my friends and family, as they define it.

So, my interest in the lives of people around me is less prescriptive, and more intuitive-a lot more measured, in the direction of empowerment.  Life is richer that way.

Nurturing the Basics

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February 6, 2019-

The title pretty much sums up what I do, from day to day, on my job.  It also sums up what I have experienced, in so many areas of life, especially since 2011.  Things that are second nature, or are taken for granted, by many others, have been huge for me-as they have happened for seemingly the first time.  I will treasure my journeys, completed hiking routes, accomplished volunteer projects, and each event at which I have been warmly greeted.

Of course, there have been moments when I’ve stumbled, in Paris, in Gera and in Corpus Christi,  I learned from those relatively minor errors in judgement.  There have been times when I’ve faced hostility, and I’ve learned from those times, as well.  There have been times when I’ve looked in the face of indifference, and have realized that this is to be expected- across the range of human interactions.  Friendships often ebb and flow.

My greatest satisfaction, though, is in seeing people I love rise above their own apprehensions and overcome their setbacks.  Nurturing one’s basic skills is ever a source of comfort and strength, on which to fall back.  I will continue to work on mine, and realize things about myself that have not even occurred to me. I hope the same for my many friends and loved ones.

Bedrock

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February 5, 2019-

The past couple of days have brought the kind of semi-wintry weather, not the least bit warm, but not cold enough for snow, for which our area is known, this time of year.

Prescott’s winter allows for business to be conducted as usual, for all but 3-4 days during the season- and then it is only interrupted in the morning.  Noon usually brings melting.

The whole reason for my continuing to work is based on the love that forms  the bedrock of my view of the world.  I have health that is good enough to keep me getting up, going in, paying attention to my charges and co-workers, and living the full life of a committed professional, until the day comes, most likely in May, 2021, that  it’s time for me to change direction.

I am finding that, with each passing day, my family, in the real sense of the word, is getting larger and stronger.  Being able to travel the length and breadth of the North American continent, and a good many places beyond, and never feel like a stranger, is a feeling that I would not have imagined for myself, even ten years ago.  Feeling that I am never really alone, even in the outwardly darkest of times, is a blessing that has only come with facing the tests and trials of what is never promised to be a charmed life.

I feel this, after an afternoon of learning more about handling job challenges in a different way and an evening of contemplating this bedrock of love that the Infinite, the Universe, has set for us.