Walking in Place

3

September 23, 2017,Prescott- 

Several readers have, over the years, expressed a preference for my travel posts.  While I greatly enjoy visiting places old and new, there has been an increase in responsibilities and commitments, hereabouts, since my return from the East Coast, at the end of July.  Not the least of these is my work with autistic teens, a veritable payback to all who have guided me, over the past several decades.  There are also two major public events here in town, in October:  Hope Fest (October 14), a celebration of faith, which I will be assisting for the third consecutive year and, a week later, the Festival of Light and Unity- commemorating the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, on October 22.  As the Baha’i calendar is a lunar construct, the Birth of His Herald, al-Bab (The Gate), is observed the day prior to that of Baha’u’llah.  This year marks 198 years, since al-Bab was born and we will observe that event, as well, on October 21.

My friendships being wide-ranging these days, several events tend to converge on given days. So, today, largely devoted to Prescott Stand Down, an event dedicated to serving homeless veterans in our community, took up much of the day.  I was later able to make further progress on clearing my backyard and 3-4 more hours of concerted effort ought to get the job completed, for this year.  Tomorrow, two events at the American Legion, two Baha’i activities and an hour or two helping a good friend move, will keep me honest and productive.  This coming week, there is a gathering, of one sort or another, every night.  Looking ahead to October 14, that day will see me at two other events, in addition to Hope Fest.  Life is never dull.

With regard to travel, Fall Break will be here, in two weeks.  I am in between going to Joshua Tree and Lake Cachuma, California, or down to Superior, Globe and over to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, for 4-5 days (in which case, the California trip gets done over an extended Presidents’ Day weekend). My spirit guides will advise me, on this matter, as with so many others.

Yes, I do get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as well as a 30-minute power nap, most afternoons.  Stay tuned.

As Summer Ends

2

September 20, 2017, Prescott-

Almost as if on cue,

the triple digit temperatures

are leaving Phoenix,

and our nights, here,

are requiring a light blanket.

Soon, I will need a sleeping bag

for Fall and Winter camping,

that will provide comfort,

below forty degrees F.

I will finish pulling weeds,

in about ten days.

They won’t be back,

until next May.

I will be fully engaged,

in my daily work,

both faith-based and secular.

In such times,

it feels good to occasionally,

come up for air,

even when immersed,

in water and the Spirit.

In eleven days,

I will come up for air,

and I do not know,

as yet,

in which hyperbaric chamber,

I shall ensconce myself.

Sixty-Six, for Sixty Six, Part LXIII: My Dream Pack

10

September 18, 2017, Prescott-

A writer whom I recently began to follow has written, of late, about the concept of the Dream Pack- essentially, a way of life, place, group of close people which, collectively help each being realize the fullness of his/her particular dream.

The outpouring of love I have felt today, in person and online, brings me to reiterate what I have said on occasion, in the past.  People have come, gone and, in a few instances, returned.  I have found places, near and far, which bring me inspiration, for a time, and while some have lost their allure- others have drawn me close.  My way of life remains pretty much the same, though the accent, of late, has been on service, rather than a trail-side regimen.

My Dreampack , then, is large and varied:  My son, in Korea, is a phone call and an ocean away.  My siblings are a mere continent apart from me.  I have a nephew, in Los Angeles, who is a full schedule, or two, distant.  Mother is East Coast-bound, but will get a letter a week from me, and will respond, when she can, with reassurance that she is just fine, and inspirational comments.  My solid network of friends, in the Prescott area, and across Arizona, make it certain that, if I feel lonesome, it’s my own doing.  The same is true, all over North America.  I am never far, when in my car, from someone who at least has time for a cup of “joe”, or tea, or Jamba Juice.

There is a teen boy, who I am sponsoring, across the Pacific.  Someday, I will visit him.   My Dream Pack is large and varied, and includes kindred souls in the Philippines, South Korea, Australia, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Iran, Russia, Romania, Italy, Spain, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Scotland and beloved France.  Yes, that’s a lot of turf, for one who lives on a shoestring, but since when has that been an impediment?

My Dream Pack has been a series of Chinese boxes, opening up to yet another, and a series of amazements, (yes, I just made up a word), which will continue.  The Universe is endless in its provision of many kinds of wealth.

Medicine for the Soul

4

September 17, 2017, Prescott- 

The poor man is, no doubt, sitting with his head in his hands, wondering what his beloved will conjure next.  Rebecca spoke, sympathetically, of her husband’s reaction to her doing things like writing a song a week, for a year or writing a song and a related poem, plus painting a picture, each week, for so many weeks.  I would guess that a certain number of said works are about him.

Last night, Rebecca Folsom and Sally Barris offered two hours of rapturous song, interspersed with the kind of banter indicated above.  They came to us from Boulder and Nashville, respectively, and offered “medicine for the soul”.  The repertoire ran from Rebecca’s songs of her beloved Colorado;  an homage to Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Carole King (see below); and a bluesy paean to what women can do, to Sally’s  impromptu “Halloween Love Song”; a tribute to those who accomplish much, with a “Little Voice”; and her signature “Let The Wind Chase You”, which earned a Grammy nomination, in 2009, when it was recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Keith Urban.

The ladies captivated the vast majority of the audience, including me in my box seat, just to the right of the stage.  We joined in, on cue, for the choruses of the Halloween Love Song and “Wilder Girl”.  Their nearly matching red dresses were a sign of the slight ache in their hearts, at not being with their sweethearts, on a Saturday night.  The loving audience at Prescott’s Elks Theater did what we could to make up for it, and like so many of us who have traveled far, in the line of work, they carry on.

There was a bit of personal resonance in the ladies’ presence.  Rebecca’s voice resembles that of my mother, in her prime.  Sally both looks and sings like my late wife did. Both  despite, and because of, that eeriness, I was all in with their performances.  Their work speaks of liberation and trusting love.  They stood, solidly, for the achievement that is in every woman’s soul and by extension, in the soul of the person she loves.

I’m sure I’d be fast friends with either one of them, should I encounter her in a more casual setting.  Perking up a visibly tired Sally, by thanking her for a lovely evening, was enough for last night.  I wish them, and all women, full progress towards that sense of attainment.  In the end, it will serve to benefit us men, as well.

Harry Dean Stanton and Henry Barnwell

4

September 16, 2017, Prescott-

Yesterday, the Divine called back two very different souls, whose influence on me was indirect, (I never met either man), but extraordinary. Harry Dean Stanton was a party animal, a singer and character actor, par excellence.  Henry Barnwell was a man of the cloth, and a family man, as well as a community bulwark, par excellence.

Harry Dean was someone people saw in movies, for nearly six decades,  and while many couldn’t remember his name, the man was ever familiar.  He had a Festival, as well as an award, named in his honour, by the City of Lexington, Kentucky, near the town where he was born and raised.  Harry Dean was the first winner of the Harry Dean Stanton Award, in October of last year.

He influenced me, by confirming that it is alright to have friends of even the youngest generation, and that it was not disrespectful to be a friend, but not a  worshipper, of one’s elders.  He pointed out that, while having a relationship with someone many years one’s junior was okay, it was even money as to how the romance would end.  He learned this from direct experience.  I’ve found his assessment to be absolutely on point, as well.  Harry Dean’s party-heartiness is not something I chose to continue, past the age of thirty.  It didn’t hurt him much, but I was not born to be a booze hound.  Nonetheless, the cool cat ruled, over much of the Hollywood scene.

Henry Barnwell was a Bishop, a nonstop social activist, and a man committed to breaking the cycle of broken families, especially in the Black community of Phoenix.   He was a child of broken marriage and made sure that he and his devoted wife did not follow suit.  Their four children are lasting beneficiaries of their parents’ insistence on Family Night and regular dinners together.

Phoenix, and all Arizona, are the lasting beneficiaries of Bishop Barnwell’s constancy, in the matters closest to obtaining and maintaining a codified and de facto equality of all people.  He met with the most reactionary public figures, on the same level as with those who agreed with him on civil rights matters.  He would call people whom he wanted to bring together for the public good, and sometimes as early as 5 a.m.  Few, if any, hung up on him.  None were viewed, by Henry, as strangers.

His influence on me was to affirm that reaching out to those with whom one disagreed was the most correct and most natural thing that could happen, in a truly civilized society.  He would never write anyone off, in perpetuity, and that remains my goal.   He would also never write off a desired outcome.  The work continued, despite a struggle with dementia, until Henry breathed his last.

I continue to strive to be as relaxed and nurturing around others as Harry  Dean Dean; as caring and dedicated to helping others, as Reverend Mr.  Henry Barnwell.  May they both be victory-bound!

Handling Things

6

September 15, 2017, Prescott-

After a moving project,

this afternoon,

I offered to help a friend,

with a huge task,

this coming weekend.

Her response was:

“You work hard enough,

during the week.   It’s

my mess, and I’ll clean it up.”

This person believes that

grown people take care

of grown people’s matters.

I go along with that, in general.

I also believe that there are times

when people of all ages

can bring truth to the adage,

“Many hands make light work.”

We did, this afternoon,

and in the event my friend does

feel overwhelmed,

she has my phone number.

Speaking of grown people

handling grown people’s matters,

I have a pile of work left,

in my back yard.

This weekend looks to be a full one.

 

 

Inside, Outside

7

September 14, 2017, Prescott-

Perhaps my own wandering nature

and tendency to hang back,

in novel situations,

are partially to blame,

but all my life,

I have encountered situations,

mostly at work,

where a small group of insiders

has kept me out of the loop.

I can even recall one occasion,

where I confided in my wife,

that I was not sure that I could

trust the school district administration.

I was the principal of a one-school district,

unable to trust the people who hired me.

Frequently, here in town,

I have felt the same.

Valued by the students, parents, and my peers,

but seemingly held in disdain,

by a small, elite group,

who have been here way too long,

I’ve hung on.

The latest such situation ended, today,

and I will now be working with

members of the same, appreciative

and open-minded group,

with whom I happily worked in Spring, 2016.

I wonder what happened,

to the in-crowd,

who obviously love children,

at some level,

even if their “My Way or The Highway” mentality

sets the children off,

so unnecessarily.

Why are their wagons in a circle,

so that my job becomes

“do what you’re told and keep still”?

I’m grateful for my new/old team.

It’s not an age thing,

because, while the team lead is a Millennial,

there are others in their 40’s and 50’s,

and I will be 67, in two months’ time.

It’s not a gender thing,

because, while I am still the only male,

I am not excluded by these ladies,

from any aspect of the work day.

I’ve come to the conclusion

that insecurity breeds insularity.

Aggression: Macro,Micro, Nano

0

September 13, 2017, Prescott-

Of course, I endure aggression- macro and micro, on a daily basis.

Fortunate, I am, that macroaggression is rare,

and is usually the flailing of a frightened child,

or the blaring horn of a vehicle,

driven by someone in the throes of misdirected rage.

Microaggression is more common:

The supervisor who tells self

that control of subordinates is paramount;

the restaurant server who rushes a lone patron,

through a meal,

so that a hypothetical party of two or three

will not be inconvenienced;

the neighbour who walks about,

nose in the air,

lest the great unwashed might

deign to speak their peace.

Those who minimize the suffering

of victims of natural disasters,

as, after all, “it’s not happening here!”

Are there  nanoaggressions?

I hope not, as this might

smack of paranoia,

on the part of the beholder.

 

 

Dignity

2

September 12, 2017, Prescott-

How expensive is dignity?

Does it require the concealment of frustration,

or the savaging of one’s critics?

Does it require a modicum of intelligence,

or a neurotypical mind?

Is it a prize,

doled out to the favoured few,

or a birthright?

Is it the sole province of humans,

or something conferred,

upon all sentient beings?

A man’s man,

with whom I once had

the honour of working,

maintained that even

machines had dignity.

In his world,

Hal the Computer,

had every right

to tell Dave,

he could not accommodate him.

I ask this,

because my charges

cannot speak,

in conventional tones,

for themselves.

Yet, in my world,

they have every right,

to say, in their own way,

“I can’t do that.”

What Would I Do In Portugal?

4

September 11, 2017, Phoenix-

What would I do, if I went to Portugal?

I’d sit on a hilltop,

in Braga,

and ponder what made

the Bishop of that city,

issue a screed against the Guarani,

who stood between his country

and control of the Rio de la Plata Basin.

I’d visit the Fish Markets,

in Lisboa,

Porto,

and Coimbra,

and listen to the banter

of people who rise early,

and bring Omega 3

to the masses.

I would stand

in the grandeur of Evora,

and reflect on the

temporary nature,

of all save God.

What would I do, if I found myself in Zanzibar?

I would pay my respects

at memorials to those

who freed the people

from servitude.

I would befriend the common folk,

be they Waswahili, Arab or Indian.

I would book passage on a dhow,

from Unguja to Pemba,

spend three days on each island,

saving Stone Town for last.

What would I do, if called to China?

Macao would be first,

because of the School of Nations.

I’d not visit the casinos,

being averse to monetary gambling.

Shanghai- the Bund is being overshadowed,

by those great Chinese structures

and systems,

which Pu Yi envisioned,

when he turned the country over,

to Sun Yat-sen.

I would gladly walk,

from the Great Wall’s fastness,

in Beijng,

to the field of the terracotta warriors,

in X’ian,

if the authorities were inclined

to let such a thing happen.

I would stand at the Potala,

inside the Forbidden City,

and within the Stone Forest,

as my spirit soared,

from the energy

extant in each.

What will I do, in my forest town,

over the next two years?

I will serve those

who only seek

to meet each day,

with wonder and a smile.

I will follow the promptings

of  my Creator,

which are not found,

only in carefully arranged stones,

or  in the pronouncements

of this body of personages

or of that Enlightened Soul.

I will use this time,

to inculcate

the spirit-set

of making each act

a holy act.

I will love.