Staying On Track

1

December 8, 2019, Scottsdale-

There was a lot on my plate today.

One item was taken off, temporarily,

as a gift expo was postponed,

due to illness.

It was,  mercifully, a short-lived

emergency for a family of friends.

I headed down to Scottsdale, and

attended a Human Rights Day gathering.

This event commemorates the signing

of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, in 1948.

My daughter-in-law arrived, on schedule,

at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Amazed at the size of the place, she nonetheless had

little trouble finding her way to Baggage Claim,

and we were at the hotel,

in short order.

Staying on track

never used to be my strong suit.

Now, however, I feel that

my guides are with me,

and the inner calendar

is well-oiled.

It also helps

to be responsible for family.

 

 

Indelible

5

December 7, 2019-

Three men remain alive, of the Americans who fought at Pearl Harbor.  It’s been 78 years, since that day that brought the United States into de jure  conflict with Imperial Japan. The de facto war had been going on for some time, with Lend Lease and with Americans enlisting in other nations’ military forces.

The conflict was both the second-worst war of the Twentieth Century, after its predecessor, and the scenario for the hardest choices this country’s leadership has ever had to make.  The contributions of our best service people, the sacrifices of our civilian populace and the courage of underground fighters, across the globe- and on every inhabited continent, all are part of what makes World War II indelible in the memory of a conscious citizen.

Earlier today, one of the last Pearl Harbor veterans was laid to rest, on the sunken remains of the USS Arizona, the prime memorial site of that horrific attack.  Next weekend, our memorials to fallen veterans continues, with the laying of wreaths in each National Cemetery, across the country.   We will maintain our tributes to those who fell, and to those who came back, continued to serve those they loved and, in many cases, struggled with their demons.

Their fight for the common good, however ongoing and difficult, is indelible.

No Quarter

7

December 6, 2019-

When one has an adult child serving in the military, there is a particular degree of attention paid to the circumstances surrounding that child’s safety and well-being, day to day.  My son entered the United States Navy in July, 2011.  He will finish his regular active duty, in January, 2020.  Then he will serve in the Naval Reserves, for several more years.  I will keep watch on his environment, throughout.

As his final weeks on active duty ensue, three attacks have been committed, on U.S. military property, within days of each other.  One, at Fort Story, VA, was an act of vehicular homicide.  The second, at Pearl Harbor, only days before the 78th Anniversary of the infamous attacks there, by the forces of Imperial Japan, was committed by someone who apparently snapped, after a disciplinary notice was issued him.  The third, which may also have been committed by someone who snapped, happened today, at Naval Air Station, Pensacola.  ended with four dead.

There is some speculation of terror ties, in the first and third incidents, but not-as yet- in the second.  There can be, simply put, no quarter given to any terrorist, regardless of ideology.  The whole subject of the origins of terrorism can fill several volumes.  It basically boils down to sustained inhumanity of one group against another, leading to ongoing acts of retaliation and revenge.

Yet, revenge just leads to more chaos, and the cycle goes on.  I read this morning of the summary executions of four men suspected of raping a female veterinarian and burning her corpse, near Hyderabad, India.  There is no less sympathetic criminal than a rapist.  I can understand the rage of the men who captured these four.  If anyone ever sexually assaulted, much less killed, any of the many women who are close to my heart, my emotions would boil over, privately.  I would then have to  leave the punishment to the authorities, expecting them to fulfill their duties.  In the event they didn’t, I would, following the law, be a broken record, until justice was served.

Vengeance, though, is not my way.  On the rare occasions when the woman I met 39 years ago today, later married,  and then laid to rest, after nearly 29 years of wedlock, was taunted or sexually harassed, I stood up to those who exhibited their animal instincts but never once did I feel the need to beat someone down.   This was fortunate, as I am perfectly capable of flying into a rage.  It just has become less of a potentially useful method of dealing with such matters.  Our society, many parts of which dabble in false equivalency, might too easily fall for sad origin stories of  rapists or other sexual predators.  In the ensuing judicial chaos, no justice is served.

I maintain that, in each case of assault on peaceful, law-abiding citizens, regardless of the assailant’s motive, there needs to be a doubling-down on adherence to the sanctity of human life and safety.  Those who commit acts of terrorism, including sexual terrorism, must face justice, in its fullness- without mindless vengeance.

 

 

Love’s Many Labours

2

December 5, 2019-

The Shepherd mix, with tan spots on a white coat, sauntered into the room where I was preparing for my biweekly chiropractic appointment.  He’s done this, the past few times I have been there, settling down in front of me, for a few minutes of petting and scratching.  He’s a rescue dog, so I don’t roughhouse with him, the way I did with my Rottweilers, back in the ’90’s.  It’s all very gentle and reassuring.  His labour, as it were, is to let those he trusts know that all is well with the world.

His master, the chiropractor, came in and did a quick, but thorough, adjustment, remarked on the nicety of my newly-purchased pair of Puma Soft Foams and dashed off to his next patient.  His quick and efficient session never gives the impression of being slip-shod.  Chiropractic, from a strong pair of hands, takes little time.

One of the late Bill Tracey’s namesake restaurants had a fund-raising event, this evening.  I went over, and found it was a packed house, despite the persistent rain.  Due to the dearth of  restaurant parking spaces and the vigilance of the landlord, in the adjoining office building (NO restaurant parking, even when the office tenants are not present), I parked across the street, in the lot of an empty building.  A two-seater table, which I often use, when dining there alone, was available.  I was pleasantly greeted by server “#88” (Bill never liked to name his servers, especially the young ladies, on a receipt. The family continues this practice.), and enjoyed the fare of the evening, knowing that a fair portion of the proceeds was going to a good cause.  With no dining companion, I observe how the workers are going about their efforts, as well as the camaraderie of surrounding parties.  Bill’s Grill is a cozy place, and comfortable, despite the enclosed porch structure of the main dining area.  “# 88”, as it happens is a cheerful, endearing young woman, with loving greetings and attention to every one of her guests.  I could see, though, that the heavy workload was starting to wear on her, just a bit.  I had no need of  dessert  and was just as glad when she  brought the bill, without the customary offer.  This woman, and the entire, all-female team, were working with intense, caring efficiency.  I tipped highly.

These are examples of love at work, the result of which keeps the world on an even keel, despite all that we see going on to the contrary.  Outside of the world of remunerated labour, there is what we do for one another, just because it’s right.  In a devotional meeting at a nearby college, after dinner, I consulted the two other participants, regarding a task that has landed on my lap, and which I sometimes find onerous.  They expressed the opinion that careful examination of the actual elements of the task would lend it less burdensome.  So it was, when I found the actual evening’s “workload” was a large amount, but one which could be skimmed, rather than considered line by line, I was able to remark on the most salient points being expressed.

Approaching any task with love makes its completion much easier.

A Bit About Happiness

4

December 4, 2019-

Yesterday, whilst enjoying a bowl of soup and slice of avocado toast, I was amused by a little girl running gingerly back and forth, from her father’s table to a small shelf that had toys and books.  Her happiness flowed outward-and was contagious.

There is some “back and forth”, on sites like Quora and other online places, as to the part that happiness plays in one’s life.  There are those who maintain that happiness is a goal, or rather, THE goal, of a person’s life.  Others say “No, it is triumph over suffering, that is THE goal of this life.”

I maintain that happiness is a baseline, not a goal, of life.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha would ask people “Are you happy?  If you are not happy today, for what day do you wait?”  Think of the dreariest of mornings-perhaps in the dark of winter, or on an early spring day, with cold drizzle and snow remnants, blackened by soot.  Chances are, you won’t know of this state of affairs until you get out of bed.   So, it is the mood that accompanies a person, when she or he awakes and gets up, which sets the tone.  The outward dreariness does not have to define one’s life.

Of course, physical ailments have much to do with the mood of the day, as well.  So do social circumstances.  These, however, do not have to circumvent basic happiness.  I think of my late wife, bedridden for most of her final year in this life.  Even when she was conveying her thoughts about her condition, her decline, there was an air of  contentment, that she felt caring and love coming her way-this, from a base of happiness.

There is a common theme, in many of the world’s Constitutions, that the pursuit of happiness is an inherent right of  every human being.  Happiness, though, is already latent within us.  It is obvious, in the eyes of an infant, or the joyful run of a toddler, that the state of being happy exists from the inside out.  It is much like love-and actually flows out from the love that also is basic to our existence.

Love brought us into being, sustains us through ordeals and is with us, in the end.  Happiness, whether from quotidian events or from grand experiences, is also enduringly present, if one chooses to recognize its presence.

The goal of life?  To me, that is developing one’s strengths, positive attributes, to the greatest of  one’s ability.

Knowing, and Doing

8

December 3, 2019-

I learned, at four, how to tie my shoes.

I learned, at eight, how to size my shoes.

I learned, at 66, that I’d been wearing shoes

two sizes too small,

for nearly two years.

My feet grew, when the rest of me

didn’t.

I learned, at five, how to read.

I learned, at ten, how to read

between the lines.

I learned, at thirty,

how to spot weasel words

in print.

People say what is not meant,

to avoid responsibility.

I learned, at age six,

how to add.

I learned, at age seven,

how to subtract, and

at eight,

how to multiply

and short-form divide.

I learned, at age nine,

how to do long division.

I learned, at age 20,

how to put two and two together.

Most people are more

than the sum of their parts.

On the Margins

2

December 2, 2019-

When cleaning,

do you look beyond the margins?

When examining the conscience,

do you make sure to

check for clutter

that might have been overlooked?

When calling self,

a champion of the People,

are there some,

whom you leave out?

When saying you only have

unconditional love,

are there some whom you’ve

cut loose,

and are you certain,

as to why?

Are you defined

by what lies

within your margins?

No Pause Button

4

December 1, 2019-

This holiday weekend, now drawing to a close, reminded me that even in the midst of a wonderful celebration, there may come the cry of the needy.  I tended to that, as best I could, without besmirching the kindness of one of my dearest friends and members of her family.  I was honoured, beyond measure, on Thursday afternoon and evening.  It doesn’t take much, anymore, for me to feel that.  I go forward, at age 69, with a continued sense of personal worth.  Thanksgiving, 2019 was the sixth straight year at table with this wonderful family that has found its way into my heart.

Friday was, of course, our first real bout of winter weather, one month ahead of the actual season.  Shoveling a path to the street was followed by a night manning a shelter, which no one needed.  That is beside the point, though, as shelters are, by definition, designed to be manned proactively.  I have to say, the large Arizona Republic Thanksgiving Crossword kept me  very well-occupied, nearly until morning.

Saturday, I finally answered the figurative tapping on the window, and hopefully have drawn the right attention to the issues that were raised by an online correspondent.  The rest of the day, though, was spent catching up on the sleep I forewent, whilst manning the shelter.  Being up most of Friday night, though, showed that I still have stamina.  The evening was graced by the megaton voice of one Jacqui Foreman, who showed both vocal range and mastery of two types of guitar, in a concert at The Raven Cafe. She and her two accompanists delivered a solid three hours of a range of music, from soft rock ballads to acoustic jazz; Ma Rainey, through Frank Sinatra, to The Cranberries and Metallica, all find a spot in Sister Jackson’s repertoire. Among the people who I encountered there were a veteran musical arranger, a little boy who was somehow fascinated by my presence and a young lady who waved at me, from across the room- a case of mistaken identity.  It’s always colourful at The Raven.

Today, the last month of a decade of growth launched itself.  I tidied up my driveway, which had still been laden with ice and snow.  The sun was a big helper, and now the driveway is mostly clear.  The breakfast meeting at the Legion was cancelled, so I went down to Cupper’s, for an order of skinny pancakes, with melon on the side.  Several transient men were there, warming themselves, waiting for a Salvation Army service, across the street.  They had a very sobering account of the snowstorm just passed.  At least, there was an active shelter-not the one I manned, but the regular overnight shelter that SA provides, on below-freezing nights.  The day ended with a short Baha’i meeting, and now I look forward to a fruitful December.

Work will likely still be slow, but I will be mainly concerned with my dear daughter-in-law, who arrives  next Sunday, for nearly a month.  Aram will be back, after New Year’s and his last days with the regular Navy.  It’ll give me a chance to introduce Yunhee to our fair state and to several of my dear friends.  Then, too, is everything that has to do with Christmas time in Prescott, and around the state.