Burning the Mask of Overactivity

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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 2018 Road: Honours, Learnings and Observations- Part 1

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September 2, 2018, Prescott-

The forty-day journey, whose chronicle I have just completed, is now well-past the reflection stage.  The longest trip I have undertaken, since 2015, has passed without controversy, among those of my family and friends who have viewed my travels in the past, with some consternation.

There were mostly good things that happened, this summer that is nearly passed.  I want to first note those who have honoured me with their presence, in the deepest of ways.  Then, I shall note the learnings I picked up from the trek. Finally, some observations are in order.

Honours-

The first of these always goes to my family: Being in Christ Church, Philadelphia, for the wedding of my beloved youngest niece; having my son, Aram, and his girlfriend next to me during the service, throughout the reception and for much of Father’s Day.  I’m grateful to her, for having given him much happiness; being with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and nearly all of my extended family.

My northern Nevada family has always been there for me, as well.  This year, over Memorial Day weekend, was no different.

My sister in spirit, Corina, drove an hour each way to visit with me a bit-once I got to Wilmette, but to no avail.  My arrival was way too late, so back she went, to spend Sunday afternoon with her beloved. I feel honoured, nevertheless.  Just being in the embrace of the Baha’i House of Worship is a singular honour, in itself.

Having dinner with friends in Mishawaka, IN, was a sublime blessing.  Thanks, Val and Sparky.

I cannot say enough, for the staff and fellow hostelers at Auberge Bishop, Montreal, for confirming my worth as a human being, in the aftermath of a serious loss.  I am also grateful to the agents at USAA, for mitigating that loss.  It was a joy to take lunch at one of  the restaurants of a friend’s establishment:  La Panthere Verte.  I would feel similarly honoured, again, at hostels in Baltimore and in Memphis.

One of the greatest honours is to connect with the spiritual energy of one’s ancestors. My maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plattsburgh, NY first welcomed me, and a few weeks later, my sister and a maternal cousin connected with some of Grama’s grandnieces and great grandnephews.

Penny’s family will always be my own, as well.  They helped me greatly, in the wake of Montreal.  A few days’ respite, in the family home, in Spring Hill, FL helped me rest before the home stretch, and reaffirmed our bond.  Paying my respects to her departed cousin, a few days before, in Maryland, was essential.

There are many, across the nation and world, who I regard as spiritual family. They are of all Faiths and of no Faith.  Connecting with a woman who is like a daughter to me, in Virginia Beach; an immigrant friend who is like a brother, in Salisbury, NC; and my Tennessee brother and sister of the heart, in Crossville, have made all the difference in healing a part of me that still grieves, somehow.

Being in Memphis, and feeling the pain that all of us who are of good heart experienced, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. died, was cathartic.  I had not cried in a good long while, and this overwhelming sadness brought out a lot.  Later in the day, walking along the banks of the Mississippi and along Beale Street, felt like a dirge was playing.  Dr. King honoured us all.

NEXT:  Learnings

 

The Fast: Day 11- Holistic Health

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March 12, 2018, Prescott-

I  went to Cornerstone Chiropractic, first thing this morning.  I remember the place, as the owners had accepted some donations from a friend, a few years back and I did the honours of carrying the boxes in.  The fact that here are husband, wife and three kids appealed to me.  People who run their business, with their children close at hand, seem very trustworthy to me.

Baha’u’llah tells us to consult a skillful physician.  Whatever that may mean to many, here’s what it means to me:  A trained medical professional, who also recognizes and promotes wellness, including diet, exercise and the use of essential oils.  So, I’ve signed on with Dr. Robert, will take 48 sessions, so as to secure my skeletal, muscular and nervous systems and will have my sore shoulder back, in relatively short order.

I have also reached out to many of my Prescott area friends and promoted this establishment.  Who knows just how many others can be made whole, by non-surgical means?

If

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November 14, 2017, Prescott-

If I am chosen to serve as a co-ordinator for international students,

I would work to make their time here a cornerstone of the rest of their lives.

If my son safely completes his time in service,

I know he will make a huge mark in the world,

in the time afterward.

If it be God’s Will, I shall not be moved aside

from generous acts of service,

both here and far afield.

If there be a clear sense of reality,

the good people of the world

will find a way,

to end imbalance,

for Puerto Rico,

Kurdistan,

Rakhine Province,

Sri Lanka,

Syria,

South Sudan,

Rockport- Port Aransas,

central Appalachia,

the Navajo Nation,

Uyuni,

Haiti,

Chicago.

If  justice prevails,

those being marginalized

will see solutions,

that honour their

creativity,

their intelligence,

their dignity.

Car, Man and Tribulation

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October 13, 2017, Prescott-

Car went through an ordeal, yesterday.

A wayward peace of cardboard,

in the road,

surrounded by loose gravel,

in the middle of a sharp curve,

sent car off into a small downgrade.

Car was pulled out,

by a gentle man,

in a powerful jeep.

Car is okay,

with a few screws

needing replacement.

Man woke up this morning,

noting that a long-standing

wound

on his face had faded.

Man is looking

more human.

Man and car went out,

and delivered flowers,

to people who are

being supportive

of a large community event,

tomorrow.

Man and car are fortunate.

Across California,

there are thousands

who face tribulation.

Single- Track Through Paradise

11

May 28, 2017, Cave Creek-

I have now gone from one point of angels to another, meaning from Superior to Cave Creek, via Globe and the Apache Trail.  This road (AZ Highway 88) is mostly single track, offering enough room for vehicles heading one way to pass, whilst those going in the opposite direction wait their turn.  It’s good for people to do this, at least a few times in their lives.  I last drove the AT, in 1983, with Penny in tow.  She was petrified and made me promise never to bring her there again. Today, she and my other spirit-minders made sure I paid close attention.  With scenes like the one below, it might not have been so easy, had my main focus not been on the well-being of everyone on the road, including yours truly.  Fortunately, there were also plenty of turn-outs.

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There are two lakes along the Apache trail, between Roosevelt Dam and Goldfield. Here is a view of Apache Lake.  When I taught at Villa-Oasis School, in the late 1970’s, this was one of the places groups of kids were sent for camping weekends.

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Imagine how the Salt River must have flowed, before these reclamation projects took root.

At Fish Creek Hill, I drove up a 10% grade, made doable by the dryness of the road, and the cautious courtesy of all comers.  One is rewarded at the top, by  amazing views of the Superstition Wilderness.

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Fish Creek Canyon looks like a fun place to hike and camp- in November.

I drove on, and found the pavement had resumed, about 1 1/2 miles west of the overlook.  So did one young man behind me, who chose to pass, on a double yellow line, in a 15-MPH curve zone.  The look on the face of the driver who had to stop and wait for him was classic.  I would not want to be on approaching driver’s bad side. Itchy Foot was the only one who broke courtesy, on the 44-mile drive.

I stopped at Tortilla Flat, a small tourist haven, close to Lost Dutchman State Park, in the heart of the Superstition Wilderness.  Siphon  Draw and Boulder Canyon are two popular hiking trails, accessible from Tortilla Flat.  Again, late Fall and early Spring are the best times for this area.  Tortilla Flat does offer a wide variety of cool treats, and I thoroughly enjoyed a sarsaparilla float.

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Back in  1900’s Arizona,, sidewalks, and even some roads, were made of planks.

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Having had a nice relaxing break, I headed on towards Apache Junction, then up through the Valley, to pay my Memorial Day respects to Penny.

There is one more attraction on the Apache Trail, before one gets to Goldfield (another, slightly more upgraded “ghost town”),  This is Canyon Lake.

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Each of the lakes and vista points along the Apache Trail is worth a day or two, in comfortable weather.  People, nonetheless, go there, even in the heat of summer, at least where there is water.  Looking back, I spent most of my summer days in and around water, as a child and young adult, so the appeal is a no-brainer.  It beats being inside.

I stopped at the Cemetery, anchored Penny’s flag, and one other, and thought of how fortunate I’ve been, with her presence, since 1980, and since 2011.

As I pulled up to Local Jonny’s, a lovely young woman, who seemed to be an advanced medical or law student, given her heavy briefcase, was securing her dog’s leash to the gatepost.  There weren’t many inside, so  Alicia was  glad I stopped in, and in ten minutes, I had the last of her pitcher of iced tea and a cilantro chicken salad was placed in front of me.  Jonny’s salads are good for two meals, so I have Monday’s lunch in my cooler, as the drive back to Prescott begins.

Having angels surrounding me, in all directions, including above, is a comforting state of affairs.  Oh, and an e-mail from the chief of department leaves the door to my staying in Prescott ajar, at least.

 

 

 

 

Sixty-Six for Sixty Six, Part XX: Genuineness and Imposture

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April 1, 2017, Superior, AZ-  I returned, briefly, to this roughly beautiful little town, at the edge of central Arizona’s Queen Creek Gorge, to partake of the Gorge’s eastern flank, popularly known as Devil’s Canyon, (I prefer “Spirit Canyon”), and a sandwich, coffee and butterscotch brownie prepared by a friend, Kathy, at Sun Flour Market.

She and the market’s owner, Willa, are prime examples of people who make everyone entering their enterprise feel genuinely welcome, like royalty.  They work hard, as well, and their efforts show: The place was hopping, despite the relatively quiet Main Street.

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I have spoken before, of places where I feel safe.  This establishment is another such place.  I consider the ladies as friends, who love their spouses, AND have intensely caring hearts, when it comes to people in general.  The Easter Tree is a nod to the children, whose parents bring them in, regularly, on Saturdays.  You might note some Easter dresses, to the left of the tree.  While I was there, a little girl talked her parents into buying one of the dresses.  Needless to say, Sun Flour Market will see me, whenever I’m in the area.

I mention imposture, in the title, as well.  I pondered, a great deal, whilst hiking in the canyon, after lunch, as to my own state of being.  Friends will say that I am a genuine soul, and I am honoured by that.  There are plenty of others, including several family members, who would say otherwise, and I have to live with that.  My own personal jury is still out, on the matter.

Most such self-ambivalence stems from work.  Going back to when I first entered the workforce, there were supervisors, like Phil Mitchell, Bob Powers and Sgt. Dave Cummings (United States Army), who saw my rough edges and used whatever sand paper they had available, to turn me into a fairly decent worker.  Fast forward to the late seventies and early eighties, men like Peter Webb, Dr. Mike Duff, and the late Patrick Giovanditto also helped me hone my skills, often ignoring objections from less compassionate supervisors.  My colleagues at Jeju National University, in Korea, were uniformly supportive of my work, during the five years I served as a trainer of English teachers.  Back in the States, in the 1990’s, I got support and encouragement from Eugene Charley and A.T. Sinquah, whilst serving as a school counselor.  Truth be known, many students, teachers and parents also believed in my abilities- far more than I believed in myself.  The people with whom I worked last Spring, at Prescott High School, remain advocates, as well.  These were the people who could see inside my heart.

The people I mentioned above are counteracted, to a great degree, by the majority of those under whom I have worked, including my current supervisors.  Their negative opinions, unfortunately, only bring me back to a state of doubt.  None of them have been able to see inside my heart.  My own vision, often cloudy, requires constant cleansing and refocusing.  All I know is that the safe zones in my world are what make such recovery possible.  Perhaps some day, my work place will be a similar place.  For the next eight weeks, though, I do the best I can, with six of my eight students as beacons of light.

 

Matthew

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October 6, 2016, Prescott

Far from here,

mothers slog through the water-logged

streets of Les Cayes and Petit-Goave,

carrying their babies,

to shacks on higher ground.

Their own shanties are now home

to snakes and vermin,

which can better thrive

in a watery place.

An American expatriate,

yesterday lay on the beach

at West End, Grand Bahama.

Today, he sits on his cot,

in a Bahamian Red Cross shelter,

wondering about his faithful dog.

A Cuban woman, dazedly wandering

the streets of Baracoa,

remembers the day

when Pope Francis blessed her.

“What is he thinking”, she wonders,

“about the most powerful storm

to hit Cuba, in decades?”

In Fort Lauderdale,

the image of the Governor

appears on a TV screen.

“Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate”,

he says, as the storm of the century,

plods on- over Lake Wales and Apopka.

In Virginia’s Tidewater,

a young mother gathers her family’s

necessities, for the third time this year.

Matthew has brought water, debris and mud,

change agent that he is.

 

 

Interruption

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July 10, 2016, Newtown, CT-  In my subsequent posts, I will be doing a bit of time-reversal, focusing on stories of my journey, from last week.  Today, though, I found myself in the predicament of having to put my Nissan in the shop, here in this town that is associated with tragedy.  The engine was smoking, the radiator might have sprung a leak or two, and the coolant overflow tank definitely needs replacing.  I will deal with these things.  It may take two or three days, but I will handle it.

In the meantime, I will be in a hotel room, in nearby Bethel.  This will give me plenty of time to read and write.  I will reflect on the fact that, just three days ago, a mechanic at a Nissan dealership, in a town about 50 miles from here,  replaced the front exhaust pipe, which he said was clogged, with no mention of a radiator problem, or an oil leak. I will converse with one of my closest friends, about whatever cash flow system can be set up, to streamline the payment part of this whole process.  I will write about the things I’ve seen and people whose company I have enjoyed, up to this point.  I will catch up on my reading.

All the while, I will reflect on the lives of the 26 people who paid the ultimate sacrifice, four years ago, this December.  I might lose a car, and have to get another one, but it is a machine.  Most of those who died at Sandy Hook Elementary were just starting out in life.  Being actually killed was the furthest thing from their minds.  That is no longer the case, for many children and their loving adults- both familial and pedagogical.  They look over their shoulders, literally and figuratively, every day.

Ironically, I was going to stop at Sandy Hook, and pay my respects, after gassing up at the  Mobil station, in Newtown.  The consensus, while I was waiting for the tow truck, was that Nissan wasn’t going anywhere.  I, on the other hand, will go where this turn of events takes us;  Me, the car or its replacement, and any who appear in the meantime.

Nature’s Terror

2

May 7. 2016, Prescott- Today is a rare kick-back day.  I did saunter down to our Saturday market, which is now back in my neighbourhood, until October.  The fresh produce will go into a Spring soup, once I pick up some organic meat at Trader Joe’s.  I also met some of the market’s other regulars, from last year.  It’s a lot more relaxed around here, than it was then.

Thinking of taking a short hike, I encountered rain that was serious enough to send me back inside.  Studying maps and reading took up the time, instead.  I have an inkling to go down to Prescott Valley, this evening, and join a group of friends who are attending a spiritual rock concert.

Our little Drum Circle thumped and chanted, last night, for, among other things, relief for Fort McMurray, Alberta.  It is a city of about 85,000 people, now mostly evacuated, due to the worst forest fire in North America, since our own Indian Fire, of 2002.  The fact that people were evacuated northward, then they ran out of food, is especially frightening.  Now, they have to somehow be brought out of harm’s way, and there was no safe route, as of this morning.  With all the tar sands nearby, the place may be extra incendiary.

I know that Canada, as a nation, is up to the horrific challenge- and as a North American, I will offer any support that the people request.  This is why we do best not to quibble about the inconsequential.