January 3, 2023– I spent three hours or so, this afternoon, watching the film, Babylon, which deals with the experiences of four main characters, who are all linked by way of the debauchery of early Hollywood and the transition from silent film to “talkies”. It has a long time span, stretching from 1926 to 1952, and by the time one of the main characters dispatches his listless wife and daughter back to their hotel, choosing to himself take in Gene Kelly’s “Singing In The Rain” in a crowded cinema, his head is spinning from the memories that one film generates-as he had had a hand in trying to promote a talkie that featured the title song, in the early Thirties.
Babylon does not skimp on details of the Bohemian culture of the Roaring Twenties, nor on the hardheaded business culture that funded the fun and games-especially the drug trade which, then as now, was the means to mindlessness. With that I was again mindful that, in every age, each human soul must choose whether to follow the promptings of the body or to center thoughts and actions on the guidance of the Spirit, a guidance based in genuine love.
A few days ago, a correspondent asked of my goals for spiritual and intellectual growth for this Gregorian year. Three main goals, in each area, come to mind.
Spiritually, I will first continue attending and facilitating study circles that focus on personal and community development, based on Baha’i principles. My second goal is to maintain and extend spiritual ties to those in my personal network. Thirdly, I will continue and expand studies of Baha’i and older Scriptural writings.
Intellectually, my first goal is to actively read each day, outside of Scriptural study. My current pile of books consists of :”The Lost World of the Old Ones”, a study of southwest anthropology by David Roberts; “Prairie Erth”, William Least Heat Moon’s lengthy study of life in Chase County, Kansas; “John Adams”, by David McCullough. As I finish each book, another is added to the pile-and immediately waiting are “EcoVillages”, by Karen Litfin; “The Four Agreements”, by Alberto Villoldo; and a re-reading of “The Fifth Sacred Thing”, by Star Hawk.
Secondly, increasing the quality of my dialogues and other conversations with those in my network is a key goal. I recall the tiredness implied in the 1980s book “What Do You Say, After You Say Hello”, and how I bought into the notion that, particularly in interactions between males and females, there is a short leash of sorts which, Eric Berne rightly pointed out, deserves to be severed and a saner appeal to wider shared interests and explorations be the modus operandi in its place. One of my greatest regrets is letting that one-dimensional outlook guide me in my teens and twenties-and re-emerge, in a sense, after Penny’s death. Thankfully, my present network of friends is way past that mentality.
Thirdly, I will focus more, in my activities both here and further afield, taking more interest in intellectual community events, in this area, and spending more time in selected places, when on the road. I am reading, in this month’s National Geographic Magazine, that increasing the quality of intellectual activity does have a positive effect on limiting, even counteracting, dementia and other cerebral impairments.
As with other aspects of my life, specifics will ensue, as the year rolls on. It’ll be a rich one, for sure.