Neophytes

2

November 17, 2018, Superior-

(I came back to this old mining town, to visit a friend who operates a unique cafe and to inquire as to the health of her husband, who has been seriously ill.  He’s doing much better and she is still doing a good business.)

So, people have, on occasion, asked

if this or that anomalous situation

is my first rodeo.

Most know better,

and are being sarcastic.

I don’t deal with new situations,

the same way the street warriors

of New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta

deal with such things.

Then again, I have not faced

very many life or death situations.

That said, few of us are neophytes,

to most of what life throws at us.

We need patience with one another;

the spring-loaded with the laid back,

and vice versa.

That patience is hard to come by,

and sometimes may not happen,

in this life.

It is, nevertheless, worth making an effort.

My life, at present, is peaceful.

I am thinking, more presently,

of a newly-elected official,

a steady-as-she -goes workhorse,

now being attacked by

a spring-loaded,conservative journalist,

for not living up to the letter of a promise

she made.

A variation on the letter of the matter

to which she made the promise,

took place this past week.

The rabble rouser pounced,

in the pages of our state’s largest newspaper.

This was a most transparent attack

on the integrity of a public servant,

whom I have followed closely,

for 19 years.

There was a promise of more to come,

and with this particular journalist,

I  take her at her word.

I will say this,

there is a learning curve,

in anything we do.

There will always be

someone who takes umbrage,

at even the most well-intentioned act.

Some people have just been hurt too often,

and see down as up.

Some people crave control,

and smell blood, from the tiniest cut.

Some people just enjoy chaos,

and fuel the spectacle.

Neophytes must learn fast,

these days.

Back On The Trail

15

November 12, 2018, Prescott-

I gave my knees a mild reality check, this afternoon, going to  the Centennial Trail, on the northwest side of town and hiking a small section that I had not previously explored. It was light, by my usual standards, but gave me the workout I needed, to confirm that I can handle more intensive fare.

Here are some scenes of that sector-and of the other end of the trail, now undergoing sewer pipe replacements, for the homes which abut the trail.

I would have gone up the usual north side of the trail, had it not been for the work being done.

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The road I had to use was Westridge, a street about 1.5 miles west southwest of this access point.  It was fine, as the trailhead led to the one area of Centennial that I had never hiked.   The 1.5 mile loop that I ended up taking was good, both time-wise and in terms of workout.  I now know my knees are back to normal, and can gradually build up to that which I am accustomed.

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The trail sticks to the side of Westridge, for about 500 yards, before veering off into the Boulder Preserve.

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We have a penchant for naming things after what they replace. My hope, having seen well-planned homes place in the wilderness, is that this will not be a mindless, chock-a-block  intrusion on a special place.

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Here, I rejoined more familiar parts of the Centennial, and continued on through the public section of the Preserve, for another .75 mile.

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I look forward to returning to the north side of the trail, once the sewer pipes are completed, sometime in the Spring.

Giving All

17

November 10, 2018, Prescott-

I woke up from a longer nap than usual, this afternoon.

Getting up this morning,

at my customary workday time of 4:30,

and going through my customary

workday morning routine,

I got going and made it

to Flagstaff,

in time to help a small crew

of firefighters and Red Cross workers,

in checking on homes,

for smoke detectors

and coaching residents

on fire safety and escape plans.

The proactivity in all this,

is not lost on the citizens

of that forested community.

We all watch our neighbour to the west,

and have friends or family,

in some cases in both north and south.

We see Paradise lost,  Malibu mangled

and the San Fernando , smoldering.

People are doing

what is necessary

to get out of harm’s way.

Teachers piled students

into their own vehicles,

and damning the torpedoes,

got their precious cargo

to safety.

This is what it looks like

to give all.

We watch, from Arizona,

and elsewhere,

and we remember.

North Carolina remembers,

the storm surge,

the rivers rising,

and people tending to one another.

Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts remember,

much the same,

and people tending to one another.

Florida remembers,

priceless communities leveled,

and people tending to one another.

We remember, here in Yavapai County,

the gaping maws,

of one fire after another,

consuming subdivisions

and forest dream houses,

and threatening to devour

the centers of thriving towns.

This has been the lot,

of man up against nature,

worldwide,

and from time immemorial.

Now, we see it in Real Time,

in places some of us have been,

and in places we can only see in our minds.

I recall visiting Malibu,

a few years back,

and standing on a ridge,

with a troubled young woman,

sobbing and smoking a cigarette,

nearby.

She put out that cigarette,

when she no longer needed solitude,

and walked, with the extinguished butt,

back to her car,

her emotional state somewhat calmed,

by a few minutes in silence,

looking out over the glorious expanse,

called Mulholland.

She barely noticed me,

but I recognized her immediately,

a public figure,

whose privacy was  honoured that day.

I hope she, and her neighbours and friends,

escaped harm, as this most recent

burst of wrath scours the land.

I visited the Martin Theater,

in Panama City, Florida,

nearly four years ago.

I see that it did not make it

through Hurricane Michael,

just as much of the community

that greeted me so warmly,

did not make it through

the Monster, unscathed.

The Martin will return, though,

and Panama City will rise again.

on more solid footing.

Malibu will rise again,

and the Mulholland wilderness

will remain a refuge

for the disconsolate and the world-weary.

Paradise will be regained.

We who love,

will give our all,

again and again,

for as long as it takes.

Today started out

as an homage to my late mother-in-law,

whose memorial service,

I was unable to attend.

It turned into a statement,

that we will stand

with our family,

with our neighbours

and with all of our children,

to keep this divine trust

called humanity,

in a sacred place,

called home.

 

 

 

 

 

Cocoon

16

November 5, 2018, Prescott-

Yesterday was another one of those days which found me out and about, helping others in their noble efforts.  Not long ago, someone challenged me, with regard to my involvement in the community. The point that this person made was that all these activities constituted a sort of cocoon, guarding me against connecting with my inner conflicts. I was then advised to drop all activities and sequester myself, as soon as possible.

Little does that individual know, but my real cocoon, if you will, is indeed being here, in this small apartment, away from anyone.  The reality is, and has been, that part of me is terrified of being around people who don’t really want me there.  I spent yesterday afternoon seated with strangers, two of whom were openly hostile to my presence at their table.  They were quiet about it, as the effusive person seated next to me was gracious and made sure I felt welcome.   I am quite intuitive, though, and pick up on both positive and negative feelings.

Being involved with community groups is hardly a cocoon, though it can feel quite dark at times.  I do these activities because in the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, it is written: “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”  We Baha’is are to be good in groups, not cloistered in virtue or hiding “our light under a bushel”, as it were.  I have always been one who has had to struggle, mightily, to be among people. Penny helped pull me out of the shell, to the extent that, to outward seeming, I am something of a social butterfly, with lots of friends.  I do feel the warmth of many, both online and in real time, especially among my Baha’i friends.  I also feel the grudging tolerance of several people, and take that for what is worth.

My point here is that being involved with the good of the community is not a  source of comfort, nor is it a protection against any inner turmoil.  That protection comes when I commune with the Creator, in the early hour before dawn, at midday and in the evening.  Then, alone, do I summon the energy to face the world, and the ravages that go along with the joys.

The Light of Abiding Love

9

November 4, 2018, Prescott-

Friday night, I headed down to Phoenix, and spent time with several old friends, at the Baha’i Center.  The occasion was a Launch Party Tour finale for  the latest album by a talented young artist, named Colby Jeffers, a rapper with a strong spiritual message.

One of the themes he raised was the importance, the abiding bond, with his wife, M.  They have been present for one another, for several years now, and the love is only getting deeper.

I saw several examples of the light of abiding love, that night, and over the weekend.  Another young couple showed both the firmness of their bond, by holding one another, at moments when Colby’s words hit just the right tone of everlasting love, then having the strength to go about their individual tasks of the evening, knowing that each would be there for the other, when needed.

Penny and I were like that, so my heart is always warmed by a man who takes good care of his beautiful wife-and vice versa.  I feel much the same towards couples who are not quite married, but who are committed to one another.  Having so many friends who are at one point on the commitment continuum, or another, their ties generate light in the world, and I feel reassured.

This was further cemented today, when I attended an honorarium, at a lovely equestrian ranch northwest of here, and saw a couple being honoured, for their service to the Prescott community.  They have suffered unimaginable losses, these past two years, and while I am not her favourite person, by any stretch, I feel very much appreciative of both all they have done and for the depth of their suffering.  Their light shines, intensely, through all the shadows.

Marriage is an affirmation of light, when it is real.

Back to Light

22

November 3, 2018, Prescott-

It’s no secret that there was a fair amount of darkness in my life, a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but I had to go through having my ego tested, to see whether I deserved to have the goodness that has been increasing, over the past four months, to continue.

The dark consisted of a number of anomalous situations, involving limited communication means and quickly changing circumstances.  This is how darkness works: Obfuscate, confuse and deflect.  Gaslighting is the name of its game.

Darkness, though, is the absence of light.   Once sunshine re-enters, the confusion gets dispersed, Hopefulness, never completely gone, reclaims its share of the heart.  The commonalities, between seemingly disparate anomalous situations, appear-even to my mind, that can be so slow on the uptake.

So, now, my left knee is functioning just fine again.  A serious impediment to my finishing this academic year has been removed.  A person, who had abruptly left my circle of friends, sent me a conciliatory note and I was reassured, by a mutual friend, that a small but important matter, involving said soul, had indeed been resolved.

My schedule can still be maddening, at times, and I realize I am the one who ultimately drives that bus.  Compromises and occasionally saying “No” are arising, as things get more intense, during this holiday season.  I have also figured out how to more effectively use the time I do have available.

There are only two non-negotiables, in that respect.  I will attend my mother-in-law’s interment, sometime in the next few months, and my son’s nuptials, in the early Spring.  Everything else is a matter of timing and of urgency.  There are good reasons for synchronicity in the Universe, and we do well to not be afraid to prioritize.

There is another aspect to Light, which I am glad to be seeing more often these days:  The importance of marriage and the family.  I will discuss that further, in the next post.

Wait Just A Minute

11

October 31, 2018, Prescott-

Halloween was low key, at least tonight.

Twenty people happened by my solitary, if well-lit, table on our quiet street.

It was full-blast, over the weekend, though

I went to one party, with my co-workers,

and it was the most heartfelt event.

My appreciation goes to friends in Phoenix and Scottsdale,

whose parties I missed.

See you next October, as things stand now.

That brings me to the main point of this piece.

I no longer rank order my friends.

I no longer have most favourite restaurants,

coffee shops, places to visit.

I am finding too much of merit,

in too many places,

and with too many people.

Someone asked me,

not long ago,

who my best friend was,

and why I didn’t speak to that best friend,

on a daily basis?

In truth, I have many friends

and I may speak to them,

as needed.

My friends are,

quite frankly,

both human and spirit.

Usually, it is the spirit friends

who tell me I need to be

nicer to the humans.

I take that admonition seriously.

Back to the idea of favourites.

We rank order, in this life,

for reasons particular to the person

doing the ranking.

We want to have reliable people,

on whom we might call,

in a time of need.

We enjoy a certain barrista’s latte

or a given baker’s quiche or breads,

or a pasta chef’s lovingly made spaghetti bolognese.

We love how the vegan lady downtown

makes such delectable soups.

I might miss the teasing of a cerebral friend, uptown,

or my brother’s sometimes caustic, but always on-point, admonitions.

I might just need the affirmations of a devout Christian friend,

who understands me, better than most.

I may want to connect with friends in Alberta, Alaska,

or Alsace.

None really is superior to the others.

Maybe, I am reaching a point of true unity.

It has come hard, and I am still working

on my sticky point:

That consistency of presence thing.

It even happened this evening.

Little “S”, for whom I’d give my life,

snuck up to my Halloween table,

whilst I was bidding farewell

to a 9-year-old vampire.

“Trick or treat”,

followed by the world’s most beautiful

toothy smile, brought me back

to front and center.

She wanted to visit my table,

before putting on her witch’s hat.

“S” and her mother made my evening.

 

 

 

Radiating Outward,Absorbing Inward

11

October 29, 2018, Prescott-

I am now given to saying this personal prayer, in a quiet time of day, preferably at dawn.  This is not a revealed verse. It merely reflects my humble sentiments.

” O Creator of all,

Preserve this soul and protect its human host,

from all that is vile and treacherous,

whether within or outside.

Protect this humble home,

and all who shelter within it,

from those forces which mean harm.

Guard this community,

and guide its residents

to do right by themselves,

their families and their neighbours.

Bless this city, county,

state and nation,

and lead us to do right,

by one another and by those

who appeal to us for help.

Give them the strength

to do for themselves,

as dignity and justice

shall illustrate.

Radiate your blessings

upon this continent,

this hemisphere,

this planet.

May the hurt of one

truly be seen

and heard

as the hurt of all.

“Let deeds, not words,

be your adorning”-Baha’u’llah

 

Face The Lion

21

October 28, 2018, Prescott-

One month remains of my being 67.  October, thus far, has been another instance of what the forest rangers call “facing the lion”, the feline in this case being a mountain lion (aka cougar or puma).  The broader meaning of this, of course, is facing one’s trials, without flinching.

I stood for what I believe, earlier this month, was castigated for it by a troubled soul and am not sorry for standing my ground.  I have promised to not harp on this, so I won’t. The most important thing is that, if I am all but ordered to compromise who I am, under pain of disapproval- I will take the scratches and bite marks of disapproval.

Physically, I have recovered from a mild injury to my left knee and am maintaining a rehabilitative exercise regimen.  It was gratifying to have returned to our local Planet Fitness, this evening, and to have been able to complete my usual exercise regimen, with a few modifications.

Yesterday, I chose to stay close to home during the day, rather than go down to Phoenix for what would have been a mere hour, before returning to this area for a Halloween party.  The day was greatly satisfying, though, as I attended a Fall Festival, at the site of the chiropractic office which I use.  There were many raffles, and I won a plastic sled.  The sled ended up going to a five-year-old boy.  I believe every child ought to have the enjoyment of sledding on snow- and in his grandparents’ yard, to boot!

The Halloween party, at my lead teacher’s home, was a masterful blend of food and imaginative visual effects.   There were “talking” creepy ghouls and monsters and a fine variety of hot and cold buffet items.  The best part, though, were their three German shepherds, including a very vocal albino G.S., named Lloyd.  He and I got along just fine, as I would talk back to him, saying it’s all okay.

I got mesmerized by yet another replay of Bette Midler’s classic “Hocus Pocus”, which we used to play every Halloween, when Aram was a child.  It’s been a while, so looking back on how different child characters stood up to Bette’s character and her sisters was a treat.

Yes, some lions are more comical than others. Some are more problematic. All must be faced with confidence and courage.

Underscored

20

October 21, 2018, Prescott-

I get the celestial message,

“Cease and desist”.

There is to be no more contemplation,

remarks,

allusions to,

recent negative experiences.

I have people who love me,

who need me to be present,

at work

and at leisure.

A wonderful soul

called me

“sweet friend”.

There is no finer title.

From beyond the veil,

I do get direct messages,

with the caution,

to always weigh

the message carefully,

and not confuse it

with my own thoughts

and musings.

The caveat is underscored.

So is the love I have been getting,

this weekend.