Points Taken

9

October 15, 2018, Prescott-

Every day, there is a lesson to be drawn,

and most days, there are several,

for those who are awake,

even awake in spite of themselves.

I am far from being a saint,

and most definitely am not  a prophet.

So, the lessons I need to draw,

have sometimes been put off

or ignored.

Among the points I have taken,

from recent days,

are practical:

When meeting someone,

know the road the person is using,

and focus on it-

not on the nearby road

that I took.

When with a person,

who is speaking

with intensity,

even about seemingly

light matters,

give total attention.

Put the watch away,

and leave the cell phone

in the car.

Shut out everything

in the field of vision,

or the range of hearing,

except the person speaking.

For that matter,

DO NOT assess,

or base your response on,

the  level of gravity

of what someone is saying.

If it seems frivolous,

treat it with the same

degree of respect,

that you would

a discourse

on nuclear fusion.

We live in a very hard age.

We live in a fragmented society.

Each person I encounter,

each person

who pulls away

from me,

imparts a lesson.

Active listening

was  a huge part of my life,

from the 1980’s through the 2000’s.

I am sorry I let it go.

I am not sorry that I am

bringing it back.

Godpseed, and forever peace, to my teacher.

 

 

 

Burning the Mask of Overactivity

4

October 142018, Prescott-

No, I did not mean hyperactivity.  My day is fairly well balanced and more focused than some of my recently-made friends have perceived.  I did not mean overextended, though there are days when I have to snip the cord on one activity or another.

Overactivity (my term) means having more options to which to be committed than some feel is healthy.  One person even got an insight that my current level of social involvement amounts to a safety net, a cocoon, if you will, through which I can escape confronting my pain.

In truth, each night and for a good part of my weekends, I am indeed alone with my state of being.  There was a period of time, about three years, when travel eased my pain at losing my wife of 29 years. The first year, 2011, saw me going about with clouded judgement, for about four months.  Some family members were angry with me, for not “getting it together and moving on”.  I believe these people have come to see things differently.  Now, largely being in one community, I am building a sense of personal power.  I am glad to share my energy with groups like the American Legion, Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott-and I do not find it overwhelming, nor do I find it a means of escaping pain.

Those in pain themselves will likely call “bullshit”, but that is their individual mirror.   I have not been shy about opting out of an event or an activity, when I feel the need to rest or when someone’s personal needs arise.   I know where I am inside, emotionally- and physically.

Spiritually, I believe in Baha’u’llah, as the Manifestation of God for this Day.  I believe in the Oneness of Mankind, as do many people of various Faiths-and many of no Faith.  I  believe in the continuity of spiritual revelation.  Some even think they know where mankind is going, after the completion of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation (at least 825 more years). Maybe they are right.  I can only say, it is time now to bring about the end to needless suffering, and if you have ideas that can help in that regard, bring them to the fore!  It is not overactive, hyperactive or even being overwrought, to have a passion that belongs on the table, that needs to be shared and enkindled.

Let us keep an open hand to one another, an open mind to the ideas of others and an even temper, when dealing with each other’s foibles, weaknesses and areas in which one needs to grow.  If that is difficult for someone, let he or she point the area out-preferably in a loving way, leaving the offending party to themselves, and,as Baha’u’llah wrote, “Beseech God to guide them”.  It’s time to burn the masks which limit us.

The Most Important Relationship Skill: Do You Have It? — phicklephilly

3

I found this article the other day and thought I’d share it here. Enjoy! For years I prided myself on being an excellent communicator. I built a previous career on an ability to express my feelings and be vulnerable with the people around me. While I was gaining recognition in the field for my […]

via The Most Important Relationship Skill: Do You Have It? — phicklephilly

Burning the Mask of Self-Disdain

6

October 14, 2018, Prescott-

I have revealed much of myself, recently, to a person who, to the best of my intuition, wishes the best for me, albeit through instilling a very high standard of discipline in our interactions.  What this soul doesn’t know is that, for much of my life, the very same words, angry reactions to some deeply ingrained behaviours (which I, admittedly, need to, and have a specific plan to, root out) and putdowns which I hear now, have been used by far less well-meaning people, earlier in my life.

What I have been doing, and what I need to accelerate doing now, is to destroy the self-loathing that also was deeply ingrained on me, by the words and actions of certain people in my youth, and throughout my career in education.

Everyone has their share of bullies, and many turn around and bully others. “Hurting people hurt people”.  It gets us nowhere.  So, part of burning my mask of self-loathing will involve keeping a distance from those who view me as either a threat to their well-being (out of common courtesy) or as beneath their contempt (out of self-preservation). I have learned, through the period of caretaking for Penny and in the years since, that I am a far better person than ANY of my detractors, including those who have recently come into my life, can remotely imagine.  While I will strive to make specific changes in my living space, according to the better of the messages I have been getting, I will not abase myself again, ever.  Life and love go on.

NEXT:  The Mask of Overactivity

 

Burning the Mask of Obligation

6

October 13, 2018, Prescott-

Obligations are things one takes on, in order to please other people.  They could become passions, which are those things one takes on out of sincere spirit and pure love.   Parenthood, spouseship and a sane and intelligent patriotism are examples of the latter.

In this life, however, there are obligations each of us take on, which raise the person to whom we feel obliged to the status of superior, or master.  Unless one feels passionate about the activity  in which s(he) or he is involved, the obligation becomes a false one.  Many holiday celebrations, for example, become empty rote activities- none of them memorable.  Going to the place of employment, for all too many people, is an empty obligation.  Even having a conversation, if there is no passion, involves putting on the mask of caring, almost a political and vapid exercise.  It fools no one, except, perhaps, oneself.

I have been in the process of shedding obligations, for the past seven years.  Marriage was an act of living love, and never felt like an empty obligation.  There were plenty of moments of misunderstanding, but the passion did not disappear.   Fatherhood is an act of living love, even when miscommunication and physical distance seem to create a sense of discord.  The passion does not disappear.

Working with children and youth is an act of living love, even when their behaviour seems to be enough to drive one to the edge of insanity.  The passion cannot disappear.

Growing as a spiritual being is the greatest of passions- otherwise I would likely dissipate as a person. This means two things:  Do not filter communication, no matter how seemingly drawn out it may be.  Presence is a burden, when viewed in the least obligatorily.  It can only be viewed, from a passionate viewpoint, by not filtering the subject presenting self, in any way.  This requires being totally non-judgmental, as to what is worthy of one’s attention and to what is trifling or frivolous.  How many wars have been started, and fought, because of a perceived or real slight?

So, as I look at obligations, great and small, and bring those that matter to the level of passion-I must chance the burning of the masks of obligation, that I may show the real face that comes with passion.

NEXT:  The Mask of Self-Disdain

 

Burning the Masks-Prologue

8

October 11, 2018, Prescott-

This series of posts will look at my demon masks. Yes, how apropos for the advent of Halloween.  We all tend to wear one mask, or another, and it falls to the truth tellers of the world to either yank those masks off or get the wearers to take them off, themselves.

Penny was a Libra, and as such, one who suffered fools, not at all.  She accepted me, for who I was, because she saw that my heart was dedicated to truth. Yet, there were always the masks, and I did not get to discard all of them, before her passing.

Now, seven years later, I have to confront certain realities, on my own.  I will share some of the things I am finding, as some risk, but also in the hope that my readers might find the process beneficial to yourselves.

NEXT:  The Mask of Obligation

Dream Baths and Real Soap

15

October 10, 2018, Prescott-

The most surreal, yet most affirming, aspect of last weekend’s Convergence at Arcosanti was Sunday night’s “Dream Bath”.  A couple from Tucson offered spoken word and salsa music, which evoked Carlos Castaneda and what probably transpires at a peyote ceremony. I actually did fall asleep for an hour, whilst listening with my fellow convergers.

When I awoke, the pair were offering their farewells, and more New Age musicians appeared, calling for the group to find one or two people, with whom to snuggle.  My eyes almost did a roll at that one, as I have heard of this being an occasion for unwanted groping and worse.  To the group’s credit, there was none of that.  I was welcomed by a few young folks to be part of their hugging and gentle back and foot massages.  A couple did seem to bond during this time, and it felt beautiful to see them connect.  There was no sexual intercourse, or any other inappropriate contact, though, anywhere in the room.

It was actually refreshing, to have that many people in a room, and to just feel an honest, loving energy pervade.

I did not sweat profusely or get filthy during the weekend, thus escaping the need to do much more than sponge bathe.  It did feel good, though, to get back to Home Base and encounter real hot water and soap, come Monday afternoon.

Convergence and Re-emergence

6

October 9, 2018, Prescott-

It was a consummate joy to have been in Arcosanti, for 2 1/2 incredible days.  The social climate felt different to me than last year’s- in an incredibly beautiful way.  I think that is a continuance of the greater self-confidence I have felt this year, both at work and at leisure.

In one sense, the trials that come along have sparked incidents that have actually augmented the lessons which the trials themselves are meant to impart.  The vandalism to my Elantra, in Montreal, was followed by an evening of healing and joy, at Auberge Bishop, a visit to my Grandma’s hometown and the incredible celebratory weekend in Philadelphia.  A solemn, but blessed, visit with my mother-in-law, was followed by an affirming day with an old Baha’i friend in North Carolina and two days in the sun, with two other friends, in eastern Tennessee.

I felt my rhythm come back, that Sunday night in Montreal, explode in Philadelphia and flow like heaven, this past weekend.  A powerful new friend helped greatly in that regard, and more than she may realize.  Then, too, the music we enjoyed and in which we reveled, was a huge part of this flow.  There were academic presentations as well,  plus I served in the kitchen and in the Monday morning transition to another workshop week.

Insightful, talented men and women brought us to our feet, engaging body and soul.

Most powerful of all was Daniel Hirtz, whose love of the drum, as a sacred instrument of healing, imparted several affirmations of my own growing love of this instrument.  While a few sad, misguided people tried to interrupt Daniel’s session with us, it continued, until the group felt fulfilled.  Drumming and breathing are keys to healing.

Returning to Prescott, I resumed work with another  friend of power, who needed help with getting a safe living situation. That work has partly been achieved, and will continue, albeit around my other endeavours, until it reaches a sense of permanence.

As for my trip to California, it has been delayed by two days, so that the above-mentioned work will see a few more steps achieved, and that a dental procedure can be completed. More details about the coming Thursday-Sunday, in the next post.

For now, I am grateful to Daniel, Pam, Eliana, Tom, Jess, Nick, Conor, Beth Ann, Dave, Ray and all the kids-of-all-ages who made Convergence 2018 such a surging beginning to Autumn.

The Flow of Consciousness River

16

October 6, 2018, Prescott-

Today, and for the eight days that follow, I will be on Fall Break from my place of work.  As ever, much of this break will be spent in service (today, tomorrow and Monday), dealing with the details of life (Tuesday) and focused travel (Wednesday-next Sunday).

I woke this morning, in a focused, but rather detached state.  Going through the regular grooming routine and dealing with news of the outside (more of the same back-and-forth, between right and left; the stock market, once again, dealing with good economic news by imagining future bad stuff; the Navajo Nation dealing with yet another collapse of its western lifeline road).

Nothing earthshaking has happened in my little world, overnight, and I have much to get done in the next hour, before a long, freely-chosen, day of service activities, so I will be brief about this:  I am now in a very detached, almost surreal state of consciousness. No substances have been involved, I just woke up this way and am still in a very aware, but unusually calm, state of being.

This will work in my favour, through a Baha’i gathering, two hours hence and the Convergence at Arcosanti, where I am serving for the second year, at a gathering of various groups to ponder and discuss the direction of society.  Hopefully, there will be no disruption of a meditation session, which I hope to join. Last year’s session was obliterated by a loud and pushy group, who represented the antithesis of meditation.

I will have more to say, in snippets, over the next few days, but will be mostly offline, until Monday night.

Love to all.

So, What Does This Make Me?

29

October 2, 2018, Prescott-

As a teenager, and as a twenty-something, I touched a few women, without their prior consent, though not in a compromising area.  Something inside of me recoiled at my own behaviour, and each case lasted less than a minute.  I can only hope the people, none of whom I knew by name, or ever saw again, have had good lives and have been treated well, over all.

The Kavanaugh case has brought me to a place of circumspection. I know that no one is perfect, yet one of the two people with whom I have spoken, about one of the incidents, was almost apoplectic in lecturing me about what my twenty-something self should never have done.  He is an older man, who prides himself on his manners, yet regularly curses in the presence of women his age.  The other person, a woman slightly older than me, simply noted that this sort of behaviour is something I appear to have long outgrown.

None of us walks on on water, yet we each have the capacity, and therefore the duty, to grow emotionally.  I have never sexually assaulted, or coerced, anyone.  Indeed, I have only made love to two women in my life, the second of whom became my wife. I am hardly ashamed of that track record, as brief as it is.

The last thing I did, before writing this, was to remove myself from the readership of a man who laid all blame, for the issue that has dominated the national debate, on the woman who belatedly reported it.  Consensual sex is not rape, and rape is never good.  To conflate the two, even in an “intellectual” environment, is reprehensible.

Now, what do the incidents I mentioned above, make me?  If you wish to say I am a hypocrite, you may.  For any of us, especially men, our purity towards other people is one of degree.