Treasures

4

February 15, 2020, Sedona-

I treasure you, the professional singer,

not for your sensuality or for your ferocity,

though both are formidable.

They do not define you.

It is that voice, which can transcend genres,

making bee-bop sound lilting and melodic,

bringing folk into the realm of whimsy,

making anyone’s standard your own.

I treasure you, the gracious host,

yourself bursting into glorious song,

whilst preparing a latte,

or a complex healthy beverage,

with ten ingredients.

It is your heart, though,

that makes the newest,

most casual visitor,

as important as

the regulars in the back room.

I treasure you,

the multi-genre guitarist

and songwriter,

welcoming all

to one of the finest jam sessions,

I’ve had the pleasure to join,

in quite a few months.

I treasure you,

the musical video-making

wanderer,

who, like me,

finds as much beauty

on the plains of Kansas,

as in the canyons of the Southwest,

the seacoasts of our nation’s periphery,

or the exquisite high mountain ranges.

This spirit brings your voice into focus,

and that lilting voice,

such a sublime counterpart

to the raw vocal power around you.

I treasure the place,

called Synergy,

where the little impromptu family,

has deigned not to build a wall around itself.

Love Means Energy

8

February 14, 2020-

It’s been quite a few years, since Valentine’s Day meant taking time for romance.  The last such day was in 2011, and it was to prove the last such day,ever,-at least as far as I know now.  Penny wasn’t so much connected with us, but on that day, she was home.  She would have about 1 1/2 more weeks, living in the house that we struggled to keep.  I got six carnations, placed them in a vase, and made sure she knew they were there.  I felt her happiness, at seeing her favourite flowers.  The last time I placed carnations in a vase, six months ago, it was at her grave.

The woman closest to me now is not huge on flowers in a vase.  She prefers things she can plant.  She is also more careful with romance, for good reason.  We are  the best of friends, and that works well for me.   The key is always to meet such of the needs of another person, with which s(he) entrusts you.  We are one another’s most fervent well-wisher, sounding board and healer.

There are many other friends in my life, as my readers know-many of you are among them, in real time.  In any case, you are friends in spirit, and that has made all the difference, in times of setback and low energy.  My friends are a good part of what keeps me going.

Then, there is the purpose-the driving force behind each day, for which I draw breath.  Now, it is the life skills development of  a young lady, who has spent her brief life working mightily to learn things which so many of us take for granted.  She reminds me of my youngest brother, gone these twenty-six years.  She is the primary reason for my work, from now until the third week in May.

Love is also putting stock in the Will of God-that things happen for a reason, or for several reasons, all having to do with relationships, with personal development.  Some things happen, or don’t happen, according to our human, finite plans-but they always happen for reasons found in the Cosmos.  I had planned to visit a friend, whose husband is seriously ill, at an event in her business, this evening.  Instead, whilst I was driving to an earlier event, a tire blew and I made it to said earlier event-barely.

Friends there helped me, and thanks to the AAA, my car is at the regular mechanic’s shop.  Tomorrow morning will thus be spent with the mechanic and getting the two new tires I seem to need.  The tax returns will wait until next week.  I will stop at the other friend’s business, tomorrow afternoon.  I’ve learned to see even  mishaps as blessings.

Love means putting energy into the betterment of those around you, as well as taking care of self.

Self Care and the Angels In Our Midst

2

February 13, 2020-

I  had what we knew, back in Saugus, as the gryppe, for five days.  The muscle aches that are the last thing to go, are being actively treated with essential oils, CBD cream and, just for an extra measure, Triflora.

I haven’t been ill in quite some time, before this episode.  As it wasn’t Coronavirus, or the flu, I count myself lucky.  Still, it’s an annoyance to have sore muscles.   We go on, though, and with the angels-both human and ethereal, who surround me, there is a likelihood of being back in full form, very shortly.

Yet, even human angels can fall victim to such illnesses.  I speak, in this case, of a dedicated community servant here, who came down with the flu- a day before being one of the leads at a Valentine’s Day event, for hospitalized veterans.  This person will recover, and there will be other events at which she will preside.  It may be the ignominy of “failing” the vets, but being a veteran myself, I can say that no one will attach any shame to her focusing on self-recovery.

A person, whom I regard as my best friend, has been there for me constantly, over the past six years.  I have reciprocated, several times, but neither of us are keeping score.  Others here have been similarly solicitous and helpful-and again, I am careful to pay it back-or forward.

It’s just what happens, with the angels in each other’s midst.

The Smallest of Things

6

February 12, 2020-

Sometimes, the smallest of tasks is the most difficult for people to solve.

The most ordinary, quotidian of quarrels can escape resolution.

The most mundane of household tasks can wait for days on end.

A quiet infant can be forgotten in the back seat.

So can a sleeping dog.

We are creatures of our senses.

We think that they need to be constantly

stimulated.

We are creatures of mind.

We think, and overthink.

The Big Picture is often

what we think matters most.

It has its place-

but it is as  nothing,

amounts to  naught,

unless the grunt work is done.

The teeth need brushing,

the shoes, lacing and tying,

the floor needs sweeping

and the car needs a visual-

before the driver leaves it,

and goes inside.

There is good reason

that the Great Teachers

called attention to

care for the least among us.

So it is,

that my task,

most likely until May,

is helping to care

for one Special Needs child.

Life is full of

second, third and fourth chances.

 

Safeguarding One Another

6

February 9, 2020-

An older actor, Orson Bean, was struck by two cars, two days ago, as he walked to a community theater, near his home in Venice, CA.  I’ve been to Venice, a couple of times, most recently last November.  There are a number of homeless people living along Venice Boulevard, both north and south, and in a few pockets close to the beach.

Mr. Bean was not homeless, nor did he appear to suffer from dementia.  He was consciously walking to meet his wife, at the theater.  He was also looking forward to the showing of a play, in which he was involved, at the same theater.  He was following a Venice practice, of crossing the road at its most convenient spot-away from the crosswalk.  I daresay that is a rather widespread phenomenon, worldwide. It can work, on occasion, if drivers notice the pedestrian in time, but it is never inherently safe.

The larger issue here is, to what extent are we each other’s keepers?  I have stated, and maintain, that one cannot regard others as mere extensions of self.  The world is full of homeless people, dysfunctional families, troubled schools, fractured environment.  No one can resolve even one of these, in and of him/herself, but try we do, and must.

There are, as the death of Orson Bean underscores, more common occurrences, to which we can contribute mightily.  Los Angeles, of which Venice is a part, has an initiative to curb traffic-related deaths.  Phoenix, which is not all that far from here, has many of the same issues, relative to motor vehicle-pedestrian collisions.  Other cities are certainly in the same situation.  For any initiative to work, behavioural change has to be enacted-and before that, must come an attitudinal adjustment.

It would seem, then, that the mindset of consciously looking out for our fellows, continuously, daily, until it becomes second nature, will drastically curb much of the mayhem that brings grief to so many-unnecessarily.  It can’t just be of the New Year’s resolution variety.  It must become ingrained.

 

 

 

The Life We’ve Planned

11

February 8, 2020-

“We must let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”-Joseph Campbell

Over the years, I’ve learned that planning, while it offers the benefit of a loose framework, is both preferable to chaos and inferior to serendipity.  In 2014, I overplanned my European journey, day by day.  When the opportunity of joining an American troupe at Omaha Beach, in Normandy, presented itself-I found myself turning it down-as I had a hotel reservation in Rouen, and didn’t want to sacrifice the night’s lodging.  It’s academic, as to whether this would have been a worthwhile sacrifice, as the night in Rouen was uneventful.

Of late, I’ve been going more with my deeper feelings-turning down jobs, when I sense that taking them on would not do the students any good, and accepting them, when I feel that I have something definite to offer.  The same remains true of leisure pursuits.  I generally roll with my gut, or with my heart, when deciding which path to follow, of a weekend or day off.  There was a time, a few years back, when I was looking towards a three-year Trifecta of through-hikes:  Arizona Trail, Appalachian/East Coast Recreation Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.  A strong sense that I needed to stay put, during much of the year, has borne fruit, during this period-2017-19.  As we’ve seen, I was on the road, anyway-just on a route that proved more beneficial to self and others-and let me serve this community, for 8-10 months.

The life that’s waiting for me, after December, is a cipher.  In the meantime, there are several paths on which I may find myself-with the anchor of this Home Base, a small group of reliable friends, and  several more, who are a bit more mercurial.  I have confidence that Dr. Joe was right, and that accepting the life that is waiting will be just as rewarding, if not more so, than what I had planned.

The Ongoing Story

4

February 4, 2020-

As is my wont, I watched the State of the Union Address, and part of the “opposition response”.  I paid close attention to what was said, to the enthusiasm of the speakers’ supporters and to the reactions of the speakers’ critics.

President Trump’s speech was fairly good on specifics, with regard to what he considers his administration’s accomplishments and bullish on what he sees ahead-should he be re-elected.  There were fine moments: Carl and Marsha Mueller, from Prescott, honoured in the sacrifice of their daughter to the IS mayhem; Rush Limbaugh, with whom I often disagree, but who has been generous to the people of the Midwest and who is now in the fight of his life, against cancer, receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the mother and children from North Carolina, re-united with their soldier husband and father; the young man from here in Arizona, honoured for his interest in space exploration, alongside his great grandfather, a Tuskegee Airman,  who himself was promoted to Brigadier General, earlier in the day.  General McGee is 100 years of age.

There was also the hubris, which has been associated with this President, but has also been expressed by several of his predecessors, in their own detailing of accomplishments.  In the end, though, Donald Trump shared a thought with which few can realistically argue:  “America’s best days are yet to come.”  In truth, mankind’s best days are yet to come.

Both speakers, (Governor Whitmer, of Michigan, being the respondent), appealed to our sense of history and to a semblance of decency.  Both expressed pride and confidence in the ability of our nation’s youth.  Both faced rudeness from opponents, and ebullience from supporters.  More’s the pity.

Our best days are yet to come.  This will happen, when we stop seeing our leaders as mere extensions of ourselves; indeed, when we stop seeing other people as mere extensions of ourselves, in terms of what we think they should think, say and do.  When the dreams of each person become worthy of consideration, when they are validated in their goodness, when they are challenged and lovingly corrected in their elements of error or destructiveness, then will Humanity realize its true greatness.  When we truly learn to listen to each other, to link arms and celebrate one another’s humanity, then will our nation,  and our planet, begin to truly shine.

Our best days are yet to come.

Sustainable

3

January 30, 2020-

I have long felt a connection with nature, in its deepest and purest forms.  This may be a matter of genetic memory.  The forest and the ocean have been places of comfort and affirmation, since I was a very young child.  That this connection should have been gradually extended to desert, prairie and alpine mountain is only a logical progression.

With such a tie to the natural world, connection with those who embrace an ethic of sustainable cultures, of various forms, also comes naturally.  I have been gradually moving away from “throwaway” living, since 1981. It has been a process fraught with fits and starts, but recycling-at least-has been ingrained in my life, for nearly that long.

This evening, I made good on a promise to myself and some members of the Baha’i community, and joined a small group at Prescott College:  The Sustainability Club.  I was the only person over 25, in that gathering-but found a genuine welcome. The group is finding its way, and plans a clean-up on Sunday, which I’ll join.  Other plans include improving the composting arrangement on the small campus, a clothing recycling effort and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, in mid-April.

My plan is to join the Sustainability Club’s efforts as often as possible, and to help them network with like-minded groups in the area, particularly Slow Food-Prescott and other environmental organizations.  There is much I can share with the youths and much that they have to impart to me, as well.  This semester, and next, will be a fine time for building a solid sustainable community.

Knife’s Edge

6

January 26, 2020-

I don’t have to live for adventure.  It finds me, in large and small ways-both close by and farther afield, nearly every day.  It’s likely that this happens because of my tendency, albeit fairly recent, to focus on what’s around me with intensity and alacrity.  The spiritual discussion we had this morning, for example, opened my mind to a much wider view of what constitutes meditation.  As many messages from my spirit guides come during intense meditation, it’ll be interesting to see which messages arise from some of the avenues that were suggested by participants in the group.

Jordan Peterson, in discussing the presence of hierarchy and of laws, in human society, points out that, with all the potential perils and thousands of stimuli that we face each day, multiplied over the lifespan of the human race, it would have been well nigh impossible for humanity to have achieved anything close to what we see in our historical-and “pre-historical” record, let alone what exists today, through human ingenuity, without some sort of organization.  It’s worth noting that most species of animals have some sort of hierarchy.

Life has, indeed, many aspects that play out on a knife’s edge, so to speak.  Just in my small sphere of existence- there is a 69-year-old body, that has remained quite healthy, give or take a few dental issues, some staph infections on my skin and a couple of joint inflammations, which have gone away, with treatment; there is my well-maintained car, which is likely to see me through local driving-and a long journey around North America, this summer-and more local driving next autumn, through winter.  My cars, when not the object of tampering, or abuse prior to my ownership, have lasted a very long time.  My work history has certainly played out, on a knife’s edge.  Each experience, though, has taught me a myriad life lessons-ditto, for my friendships, and other encounters.

So, the large and the small of it will likely long continue-relatively speaking.  20-30 years, if I have left what some have told me I have, is relatively short, but a lot can be packed into it.

 

 

Growing (Beyond) Pains

9

January 24, 2020-

Every community has its pain.  I saw lots in Peach Springs, just as I did so many years ago, in various communities of the Navajo (Dineh) and Hopi Nations-and I know the pain continues, even though life is better, in some parts of the old Home Base.  So, too, there was, and is, pain in Phoenix, in La Paz County and here in Prescott.  I heard of suffering in Seligman, which is en route to any point northwest of here, yesterday, when I stopped for an early dinner.

People have their concerns, their agonies and their setbacks.  What makes the difference in much of this, is the extent to which the suffering souls lay their woes at the feet of others.  I’ve done some of that, and have thankfully learned to put that mindset behind me.  Whine and cheese are not the stuff of social progress.

I have said a bit about what I’d like to see in Peach Springs, though my own skill sets may not do much, immediately, to help that community, on the ground.  Prescott does have a few programs in place, which can help those who are knocked down, in getting themselves upright.  Essentially, though, it falls to each person to determine his/her own course of action.  The Blame Game may be mildly salving, for a day or so, then the confusion sets in, as one sees no progress.

When I last found myself really foundering, I had to set concrete steps for my own recovery.  They involved a mix of travel, social media-journaling, exercise, photography and involvement in the community that I chose as Home Base.  That mix still suits me, and it will long continue.

My hopes for each community that matters in my heart is that strong and good-hearted people will take the lead and show their family, friends and neighbours the way forward.  I want to be there when these communities arise.