The Z’s, the Alphas and Evolution

6

April 16, 2019-

Yesterday was a bear, for many.  The damage to Notre Dame Cathedral (which I have only seen from outside) and to Al Aqsa Mosque (in which I had the honour of praying with the Imam, in 1982) was serious, but in both cases, not irreparable.

For me, it was a productive day- visiting the new Cuppers Coffee House location, attending a Baha’i study circle and getting in another exercise session were pluses.  A new online acquaintance asked me what I was doing for the day, and my response was “Tending to my personal affairs”, which at the time was weighing on me and not what I wanted to detail, to a relative stranger.  Turns out, the whole process took less than ten minutes, and all’s as well as it can be, for the time being.

I was brought further out of my shyness and awkwardness, at Cuppers, when several young people chose to sit down on either side of me.  Something refreshing about Millennials, and more so about Gen Z people, is their overall forthrightness.  Growing up always questioning my worth as a human being was a real pain.  The younger generations see no reason why anyone should do that, though I’m sure they have their moments of insecurity. Nonetheless, Gen Z’s mantra, “I got you”, obviating any lengthy explanation of one’s feelings or opinions, is actually a treasure.

I see intuition becoming a hard-wired thing.  Yesterday, there was a post about five teenagers who helped an elderly man get up from the sidewalk, where he’d fallen, walking home with him and cleaning his wounds.  Goodness prevails here, and is more common than its opposite.  The media has a label ready for those born since 2010:  Generation Alpha.  I haven’t had much contact with younger kids lately, but judging from the intuition levels and cooperative spirit of my grandnieces and nephews, and online friends’ children, I would say the label, as contrived as it sounds, is actually spot on.  They, with their immediate elders, will be the ones working to reverse a host of problems that foolishness and greed have bestowed on the human race.  All this makes New York’s recently enacted “nonmedical abortionist” law that much more ludicrous, besides being downright menacing.  The world needs its rising generations, even those who have some physical or mental flaws.

So, on we go, and I feel more confidence than at this time last week.

All Those Meanwhiles

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March 26, 2019- 

For a good part of my time with my little family, in Korea, I was drawn away from anything to do with the wider world.  It felt only natural to narrow my focus, with only a relatively brief microburst of heavy rain, upon our return to Busan from Jeju, on March 15, to let the potential of havoc remind me that there was indeed “life’s mud and stone”, in the words of the great Kenny Rogers, of which to be ever mindful.

Nothing was more jarring than the shootings in Christchurch, something for which I ached, for days afterward, upon reading a digest of news in a copy of The Korea Herald.  Spiritual truth is one, continuous flow, throughout history and will remain so.  The wanton slaughter of 120 people in northern Nigeria, yet another episode in the back-and-forth atrocities between Christians and Muslims in that country and the ongoing bloodbath in Mali, orchestrated by the Islamic State and pitting the Peuhl people against IS’s Dogon opponents, have stayed on the back burner of the world’s awareness.  This is the wrong approach. At the very least, what happens in Africa, especially in the west and north of the continent, will spread to Europe, eventually, just as conflicts in the west of Asia are feared to do.  More essentially, the deaths of hundreds-anywhere- is a humanitarian crisis, worthy of the full attention of the wider world.

We seem to at least be paying closer attention to the horrific cyclone-caused damage and casualties in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.  Americans can identify with such events, especially when simultaneous horrors are ravaging the North American Great Plains and riparian areas of the Midwest.  Nature is in a highly-charged state right now.  Whether it is cyclical or the result of intense man-made climatic disruptions, unified responses are necessary.

Then, there were the more personal individual tragedies:  A young lady who had survived last year’s Parkland, FL shootings was overcome by her emotional pain, and took her life.  A week later, the esteemed economist, Paul Krueger, overcome by suffering of his own, followed suit.  Closer to home, two teen girls in our area and a Phoenix police officer were killed by inattentive drivers.

I learned my lesson, that even during the most basic and intensely personal of life events, there is no separation from all that surrounds us.  Meanwhile, family thrives, near neighbours may struggle-and those who live in areas, where life’s larger problems seem intractable, continue to warrant our love and efforts to help, where possible.

The “meanwhiles” never take a vacation.

Quotidia Beget Adventure

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March 7, 2019, Los Angeles-

Among the phenomena which might be overlooked, when one is en route to a special destination, is the landscape below an airplane circling for a safe landing.  Such was the case this evening, as our Sky West flight from Phoenix got cleared for landing at LAX.

This was the first time in memory that I had a window seat, and thus could look at the vast expanse of  territory that is the Los Angeles Basin.  With all that has been written, bantered and felt about LA and its smog, congestion and excess, the place as a whole is a marvel, when seen from 8,000 feet-especially at night.  Some SoCal-phobes will reply that a mess can’t be a marvel, but we know better.  One does not have to approve of  what is the current situation, to be amazed at how much humanity is packed into even such a vast area.

Prior to this, I put in a full day at work and was glad to leave my charges with a sense of accomplishment, leading up to the ten-week homestretch that follows Spring Break,  The shuttle van down to Phoenix was an equally smooth and quotidian process, with us arriving at Sky Harbor with time to spare.  Barrio Avion provided tender and spicy beef for my farewell burrito.

Two three-year-old boys, meeting by chance and becoming fast friends, provided the after-dinner entertainment.  G., a new older brother, very much appreciated the presence of J., his new friend.  Watching them play with miniature cars and trucks, hide and seek and get lectured by their respective fathers, for shaking the line stantions, that are used to separate groups of boarding passengers.  There was no lack of spirit with these two.  Indeed, my first encounter with G was his running up the aisle, momentarily unbeknownst to his parents.  I kept my distance, but also kept an eye on him, in case he made it clear to the TSA  area.  Mom was on scene, 30 seconds later, and brought him safely back to the gate lobby.  Then J and father showed up and more localized activity took over.

We landed at LAX, about fifteen minutes late.  I then embarked on a 1 1/4-mile walk, from the United terminal to the Asiana booths, at Tom Bradley International (AKA Terminal B).  I am in the shape to undertake such a luggage lug, but I wonder how disabled people are accommodated, with the City of Cars expecting everyone to walk, with no electric sidewalks and only the occasional elevator, along the labyrinth.

I made it, with the loudspeaker calling my name, four times, as the Koreans wanted to verify my new passport.  I heard them and felt their pain, eventually getting to show the document to the chief of security at Asiana and receiving his swift assistance, in getting through the line, to the check-in booth and onto the shuttle bus that brought us to the plane.  It was an East Asian style shuttle, meaning that a packer was on hand, to shout at and cajole us into cramming as tightly as possible.  I actually kind of miss those days, in Seoul and Jeju, though I must say young men are less prone to grab all the seats and make women and older men stand for the ride.  That is the one thing about the old days that never failed to get me rankled, especially when Penny was pregnant with Aram.

I’m on the plane now, seated with an elegant woman from Colombia and a Korean student, on Spring Break from her school in Arizona.  It’ll be a long, and I sense, restful, journey to Seoul.

The Fix-Its

5

March 1, 2019-

I am now less than a week from being with family again.  It will be a tonic for my soul.  Work has become difficult in some respects, which have nothing to do with my co-workers, our students or, for that matter, with me.  That is a subject, though, for another time.  Besides, I have never signed up for “easy”.

I want to consider a recent social and legislative trend that is deeply troubling.  Those who style themselves “Progressives” have embarked on a social engineering project, allowing people with scant medical knowledge to determine which newborn babies can live and which should die.

I am referring, of course, to the recently-enacted law in New York, which, conceivably, will allow someone to beat a pregnant spouse, or significant other, kill the fetus and get off scot-free-for the baby’s death.  Similar legislation has been proposed by a more conservative administration in Virginia, but I digress.

There are a host of alternatives to mass infanticide, with their bottom line being:  “All life is sacred, sanctified.  A fetus in late term, and a disabled, or otherwise “inconvenient” newborn, are just as entitled to life as any creature who walks the Earth.   Rather than open the door to unscrupulous medical entrepreneurs, consider:

Adoption is far preferable to butchery.  It may even be worthwhile to consider establishing nurturing centers, where the unwanted child could get a fair shake at life.  I am not talking about orphanages, in the conventional sense. A parent facing hard times would not have to relinquish all ties to a child.  I am talking about licensed facilities, carefully monitored and regulated, with staff who are highly trained in early child development, brain research and organic/plant-based/essential oils-based nutrition.  These are all things that many progressives, and more than a few conservatives, say they want to see in the world.   It is far preferable to fund such centers than to fund abortion clinics, whose “craft”, if you will, should be a very last resort-only in case of forcible incest or a severe health risk to the mother.  Rape victims, I would imagine, would be better served by a nurturing center, which could also be attached to a rape crisis center and thus provide services to the victimized mother.

I offer these thoughts, with a view towards stopping the stampede towards madness, which, sadly, even political moderates seem to be joining.

 

In The Blood

4

February 14, 2019-

It’s been a rough few days- with a dear friend falling and suffering some serious injuries, another friend diagnosed with cancer and still others with chronic illnesses, not getting any better. The weather here has been rambunctious- soaking rain, a good thing in the long run, has fallen steadily for the past thirteen hours.  More is on the way, followed by snow in the latter part of this weekend.

I have had much time to reflect on the nature of love, on this day of cards and chocolate.  I have to look at myself, as always. I don’t hold grudges; if a person who savaged me later comes to me in need, I find a way to help meet that need.  I have made terrible errors in judgement- and find it critical to make amends to the person, where possible.  I don’t always feel loved, and have to then look at what I am projecting outward.

Love shows itself in a myriad ways-the bottom line being that the beloved feels the goodness of heart.  Words alone are not one of those ways.  Neither is merely providing a place of residence: Slavemasters, after all, provided a home of sorts, for those who were frequently brutalized.  Constantly abusing another, and getting by with apologies, is NOT love.

Love is in the blood.  My parents’ love for us came naturally and never receded.  The same is true of my love for my late wife, and for our child.  Suffice it to say, any children coming from his own marriage will find three truly loving grandparents standing behind their mother and father.

Love is in the blood.  Any way I can help a suffering friend, I will.  Grand gestures, though, have to be kept to a minimum.  Those are the first things, upon which a hater or critic will seize, as evidence of one’s fecklessness.   I’ve had that thrown in my face, more than once, and sometimes rightfully.

Love is in the blood, and thus can’t be erased easily, if at all.

Honouring

7

February 3, 2019, Paulden, AZ-

Whilst many of my fellow humans were watching what started out as a Stupour Bowl, I chose a different route for a fine Sunday afternoon:  Revisiting friends at Dharma Farm, an unassuming, but loving little settlement, on the west side of this unincorporated community in northern Yavapai County.

The family’s older child decided I was a fun companion, so we built, and dismantled, several mud villages. This child is a true Shiva, great at building and destroying  items of wood and mud, alike.  When the digging got old, and child decided it was “cold”, we went inside and she regaled the lot of us with a very expressive series of dances, in her best party dress.  Then it was time for me to make a blanket fort, which she occupied very happily, for forty-five minutes. Finally, I became a blanket-covered creature, called Swaug-as the only sound it makes is a low, guttural “Swaug!”   This went on for another hour or so.

Such is the world of a bright, imaginative three-year-old.  The family lives, and the children are being raised on, a system of honouring: Honour each other’s space; each other’s work; each other’s presence; each other’s dignity and worth.  If time were taken, by anyone, to practice this code, how much higher would the state of peace be?

Life at Dharma is not letter perfect- The above-mentioned child has her life lessons to learn and there were fatigue-caused meltdowns, from both children.  The honour system will help address these concerns, as will the violence-free regimen of their parents.  The couple’s commitment to Permaculture, a work in progress, will also contribute greatly to the little farm’s thriving.

A review of an astrological concept:  The north node, its notion of “past lives” aside, did explain to me the basis for some difficulties and conflicts I’ve had in my actual past.  It is, in many ways, a spot-on psychological analysis.  It basically notes, in a largely accurate manner, that the Infinite, as the author refers to the Universe, will unfold life as it is intended to unfold, and that how one reacts to both challenges and triumphs alike, determines the degree of one’s happiness and feeling of satisfaction, or the lack thereof.  This gave rise to a discussion of just what the nature of successive lives might be.  I do not believe in continuous rebirths as human beings, and it turns out, neither do my friends.  We concur that there are different beings, or levels of being, which follow this one.

It was an interesting day, capped by roasted vegetables and a green/beet salad. I learned, soon enough, that the Super Bowl was a low-key affair, with a predictable ending.  On our lives go, as, for the most part, intended.

Primacy

7

January 23, 2019-

I have watched the aftermath of this past weekend’s dustup, involving White, Red and Black activists, talking at, and over, each other- with only a smidgen of understanding, and that coming solely from the Native American elders, who thought drumming and singing a prayer would defuse tension.

The whites started out marching on behalf of banning abortion.  The blacks were mainly stating their beliefs about their being descended from the 12 Tribes of Israel.  The Native Americans were in a sanctioned march for Peace on Earth. The whites and blacks began berating one another, and it is academic as to who started what.  There have been all manner of comments, on all sides and from the sidelines, suggesting that, once again, no one was listening to the others- except the silent, grinning Nick Sandmann who, depending on who was watching, was either standing still out of respect to Nathan Phillips or was grinning in contempt of “an other”.

In reality, it IS disrespectful in Native American culture, to speak to someone who is chanting, praying or dancing in a spiritual manner.  Nick would know this, as, likewise, no  Catholic churchgoer engages a priest in conversation, when the prelate is saying Mass or giving a sermon.

It is also reality for some to stand, often with arms folded, grinning while their eyes flash hatred, as I have often seen when disparate groups of people confront one another.

I saw no hatred in the eyes of Nick Sandmann.  I saw a boy who didn’t want to speak, for whatever reason.  I saw his face momentarily turn serious, and what was going through his mind, at that moment, is known only to him.

Commentators have interpreted the behaviours of various people in the situation, according to what they, the commentators, have witnessed in the past.  I could do the same thing, and note that when I was a teen, my schoolmates and I poked fun at one another, sometimes to the point of invoking anger and tears.  We had one another’s backs when real adversaries attacked us.  Thus, the solidarity, the other day, when the whites, the reds and the  blacks felt threatened by one another.

Gradually, as will likely happen with the Covington kids, many of my contemporaries and I expanded our social circles, to include people of various groups.  Primacy of one group over another does not hold water.  Nick Sandmann, and those of his friends who join in, will start learning this WHEN they sit down with Nathan Phillips, and hear his story.  I hope they listen with both ears-and I hope Mr. Phillips remembers what it was like to be male and sixteen.  In answer to his question: “THIS is our future?”, I can only say:  Yes, sir, and it is also our past.  Intemperance and ignorance give way to open-mindedness and awareness, when the latter are brought to bear, in a loving way.  We are, in the end, one human race.

Rainy Day Reflections

11

January 15, 2019-

Yesterday, I rushed about, in the morning, to get  an essential oil blend to a young friend suffering from a health ailment not normally associated with the young.  I hope the oil will help.  More potentially problematic was getting to my own appointment, halfway across the Salt River Valley.   I was twenty minutes late, but had been able to message the office, as to my predicament.  No worries and I emerged with a clean bill of dental health, for another four months.

On the way up to the cemetery where Penny is laid to rest, I was obliged to stop, as the funeral procession of another soul passed.  I could hear the proceedings of the person’s ceremony, as I communed with my beloved, some fifteen minutes later.  Each one of us ought to be able to expect a dignified send-off, and someone to keep us in loving memory.  Of course, what one gets in that regard, depends on what one has given.

I went up to Cave Creek, for lunch, with a trio of pleasant eateries on my short list:  Local Jonny’s, my favourite, was suitably packed; Big Earl’s, always offering a warm greeting, also offers food too heavy for my needs at that time; Divine Bakery was thus my choice, with no other customers when I walked in, but five people entering, as I left. In between, was the best quiche south of Rustic Pie Company (Prescott’s best) and a delectable cannoli.

Today the rain came down in buckets, as unusual as the snow that hit the central part of Arizona on Saturday night.  We can expect such moisture in July and August, but not so much in winter.  These are not “conventional” times, though.  Besides, there has been a lot of discussion about the fate of our larger reservoirs, with Lake Mead, which got a fair amount of rain today, also, being Ground Zero in the drought watch chronicles.

It mattered little to us, ensconced in the classroom and taking our post-lunch walk around the main building.  Our life today revolved around getting more familiar with talking electronic pads- giving voice to those without the  ability to speak, themselves.  I recognize the urgency of this, and am giving quick study to mastering the use of these devices.

My knee has been better, of late, with ongoing exercises and essential oil treatments. There are a few exercises in the adaptive P.E. class, to which we take our students, which will require more acclimating, but I am getting there.  Now it’s time to head over to Planet Fitness.

 

Sleight of Hand

2

January 6, 2019, Prescott-

From today, I will not write the name of the town in my dateline, unless it is somewhere other than Home Base.  Otherwise, the reader may assume I’m writing in Prescott.  I am moving away from redundancy.

Today’s post is so titled, as the weather pattern was a mix of the predicted snow and rain, courtesy of a west wind and clear sky, courtesy of the normal Sonoran Desert dry air flow.  The call had been for rain, heavy at times.  Cosmic legerdemain is the way of the Southwest-even when the forecast is “100% precipitation”.

I try to keep my own sleight of hand to a dull roar.  If I say I am going to do something, I usually get it done.  Only once, since 2011, have I not followed through and that was in 2013, when it was prudent for me to put off a photo-journey to Newfoundland, in favour of joining my brother on a Sail Blind excursion.  I can’t think of anyone, though, who was offended by that.  Prior to that, my pledges were those that meant being met, even if heaven and earth had to be moved. Such is the realm of the caretaker.

We go back to work tomorrow, entering the period of time when interruptions in the learning process are at a minimum:  There are no big holiday pageants; the weather-related interruptions are almost always limited to a two-hour delay, in the start of school, if they happen at all.  So, our attention is on the elements of the students’ individual education plans.  We refrain from sleight of hand.,

The Realm of Caring

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January 2, 2019, Prescott-

I sat in comfort, on New Year’s Eve, not knowing that a new friend was toughing it out, on snow shoes, of all things, headed to and from Courthouse Square.  When she finally shared this with me, this evening, I could only say:  “Next time, please call me and never mind the time.”

This is how I was raised and how the people in my circle of friends were for one another.  Even in the worst phases of my autism, I knew better than to ever leave a family member or friend in the lurch.  I wasn’t always so good at it, but I did make the effort.

A few minutes later, there came a post from another friend, elsewhere in the country, about a particularly nettlesome difficulty she was facing, due to other people’s inefficiency and lack of communication. I am furious on her behalf and could only say as much, whilst praying for resolution of the matter.

I have faced the harshest of communication and the most endearing that it can convey, over the past six decades and eight years.  I have also had good friends up and leave, without so much as a “Farewell”.  I will not chase after them, and if they come back, I will be as glad to see them, as if they never left.

Caring, in my view, does not mean patronizing or groveling.  In fact, it’s the opposite.  We are here to raise each other up, period.  Tomorrow, I will join my above-mentioned local friend in a leisurely activity, likely taking some children on an ice-skating venture.  This, from one who tried skating three times, as a child, and fell down each time I got up, should be interesting.