No Retrogrades

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January 25, 2023- When I’ve been asked how my day has gone, over the past week or so, I can honestly say very well. Work has been good and while I have seen only a few friends lately, in person, the vibes I get, even online, are of high positivity. In a “hero to zero, and back again” society, that strikes me very well, as giving the present lack of planetary retrogrades a fair amount of significance. This may be attributed to the air of forward thinking, of not going over old ground, that seems to happen when all planets do not appear in retrograde, with respect to Earth.

I actually am not rehashing old conflicts right now, for what it’s worth. Rather, the energy that is coming from within right now is concerned with helping a small group of students advance and being of more help to those who ask my views or for my help, without second-guessing myself. So, there does seem to be a fair amount of truth to this planetary retrograde phenomenon, recognized by cosmologists and astrologists, but discounted by those whose worldview is more rooted in tangible, earth-bound practicality.

It also helps that there is slightly more daylight now, as is usual for late January. Personal energy, though, begets solutions to long-standing problems, large and small, and generates ready answers to questions from others that appeared intractable in the dead of winter/heart of retrogrades. Plans may now start to be made in earnest, for Spring through Autumn and long-standing issues actually get resolved. This feels, the cold aside, like an early Spring.

Suasion

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January 24, 2023-

The arguments seemed incessant, and there were people talking over each other. I can not follow that path. When a person speaks, about own health, at least the most reasonable of their ideas merit inclusion.

So today, a young man’s insistence on personal space was granted, and he went on to work hard. A gentleman who served his country well, asked for assistance in a health matter, that was less taxing on him, than what had been recommended to me by others. We did things his way, and all is better than it was.

Suasion works better than commanding.

Disgruntled

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January 23, 2023- I awoke this morning, preparing to head for the second of ten consecutive workdays. Opening the shades, after completing my early morning routine, I saw-a light blanket of snow! This led to a check of the website of the school district, where I am assigned this week, and revealed a two-hour delay in the school day, followed 30 minutes later by the school closure announcement. We do not mix icy roads and school buses, whenever it can be avoided.

I thus had ample time to reflect on the events of the weekend-four sets of mass shootings: Two in Louisiana and one each in California and in Arizona, causing a total of 21 innocent deaths and at least 20 more injuries. Today brought 9 more dead- Seven in Half Moon Bay, CA and two in Des Moines, IA. The Half Moon Bay shooter was said to be “disgruntled”.

In all the back and forth between “sides”, as to how to address the mass killings, there are salient points made about the ease with which firearms may be obtained, by someone with a deadly agenda-which is almost always of fairly long standing. There are equally salient points made about mental illness attending these events. No one who is right of mind is going to shoot, stab, poison or run over another human being. There are few points being made about the spiritual aspects of the problem.

Most of us have been disgruntled with others, or with the “system”, at one time or another. Those who have been disgruntled with me, of late, have chosen to either use their words or distance themselves. Ditto for my being upset at other people. Fair enough; who among us can please everyone, all the time. There is a reasonable expectation that being upset at another person does NOT mean that person should forfeit life and limb. Those of us with a spiritual grounding, a belief in the Eternal, tend to pull back from our worst impulses-to the extent we entertain them at all.

Motor vehicles, firearms, ordnance, bladed implements and toxins are all readily available in our society. Regulating them, especially hand-held weaponry, would likely help some, in reducing the death toll-as it has in Australia and some European countries. More fully focusing on the many aspects of the mental health issue will take a plethora of resources-and if done correctly will vindicate those expenditures.

Yet, one thing and one thing only will put our society over the barrier that keeps matters uncivil: There must be encouragement of spiritual education-as parents, children and communities see fit, so that each human life is viewed in the manner with which it is endowed by the Eternal. Emotional release that is achieved by ad hominem or heterogeneous attacks needs to be discouraged. This does not mean a Kumbaya Nation; it means that, despite how some people aggravate one another, it does not end in death or dismemberment.

It means a retreat from fatalism.

The Colour of Fear

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January 18, 2023– There is no such thing as a “White Nation”. Caucasians, by my humble count, consist of no fewer than 67 ethnic groups-if one counts Arabs, Berbers and Jews, along with the ethnic groups of Europe and the Caucasus. Most, if not all, of those groups are represented in the populations of settled countries, like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Immigrants from most, if not all, of the other nations of the world are also represented in the settler populations of these countries.

I had the privilege, this evening, of watching much of a film called “The Colour of Fear”. In it, eight men, representing the White, Black, Hispanic and Asian communities, spent a weekend sharing their thoughts about race and about their perceptions of their roles in American society. As one might expect, there were some very strong statements made, by each of the participants. The messages were instructive: The men of colour stating all the occasions when they felt invisible, unheard or infantilized; the white men stating their contention that people should “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”. One of the Hispanic men retorted, “There are plenty of times that those ‘bootstraps’ break off. Then, what are we supposed to do?”

I have mentioned before that I am not given to fear of other people. Perhaps it is because those of colour have not physically harmed me and in moments of tension between us (long ago, actually), the communication has been direct-almost searingly so. As I sat in the room and watched the discourse, I almost wished Wayne Jefferson, Lavern Bartley, Larry Grinston, Lionel Emilien and my buddy Anthony Banks could have been there-and said, with one voice, “Remember the time…..”. I thought of Lynwood Nichols, and his cogent, very early assessment of “White Privilege”, and of Clinton Bird Hat, who taught me how to carefully and sensitively interact with Native Americans. That those life lessons occurred early on has come to be an eternal blessing.

I am proud of my heritage- the German, French, Penobscot, English, Irish and whatever other ethnicities who have contributed to my whole. I am equally proud, and honoured, by the presence of all those who have helped refine that whole person.

Thirteeners

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January 13, 2023- The usually rough and tumble boys were a lot more subdued and looking towards the mostly female staff for guidance today. The roughest of the bunch was a lot more sensitive. The sassiest of the girls were very quiet all day. This all made more sense to me, when contemplating the feminine energy of Friday, combined with the number thirteen. Friday is named for the German goddess Freya. Thirteen is said to have a feminine flow, according to numerologists, because of the thirteen phases of the Moon.

The day itself has been transmogrified into some sort of a culturally freakish day of misfortune. I, personally, have never had a bad day on Friday the 13th. Those few that I’ve heard of who have wished they had spent the day in bed are no more likely to suffer on this combination of weekday and day of the month, than on any other day.

Nor are people in their first full year of teenage necessarily more difficult to get along with than those who are at other stages of adolescence, or at any other time of change. For me, twelve was probably the hard adolescent year, with twenty-five and fifty-nine the other rough personal years of change. Thirteen, though I was going through the heart of puberty, was a year of emergence from awkwardness.

The contrived bad luck associated with the thirteenth floor of a multistory building seems to be just that, contrived. I have not heard of any such particular association, in reality. Some people feel the whole bad luck association with the number-and the numerodiurnal combination, was a ploy to curb feminine power. I’m not sure it’s all that organized, but it makes as much sense as anything else.

In any case, any day when energy is nurturing and healing is a good day, in my book-and so it was.

Possibilities

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December 21, 2022- On a lark, I spent a little time this evening, watching a show about the misadventures of a young woman in a place for which she was ill-prepared. It had a bit of an “I Love Lucy” meets “Anna and The King” air about it. She was, though, making it work, day to day, when I signed off and went on to other activities for the evening. The gist was that, though she seemed a bit flighty, there was a very strong sense of self-and a pluckiness that brought her eventual success. She was nobody’s fool.

We each face similar situations, even when we stay in place and try to adhere to a certain basic routine. I’ve heard from friends whose lives are rather cut and dried, who have recently been facing challenges they had only vaguely expected. These range from weather that is so cold, that even an Alaska-style battery-warmer would be hard put to keep a vehicle working, to health challenges facing multiple members of a family, at once, and I’m not talking about viruses.

Thus do we find ourselves exploring possibilities. In this little corner, I will be talking with a couple of educators, tomorrow, about filling in at a position for the coming semester. This would make my own routine fairly basic, for the first time in four years. On the other hand, I could keep my present plan, which would have me covering different positions, for 3-5 days each, at certain points in the coming semester. If that plays out, I would still be available for some Red Cross activities and would head to the Northwest and Alaska, in late April, for 3 weeks or so. The other option would be none of the above, a misty, foggy scenario about which I haven’t a clue as to how things would play out. (2020 was THAT sort of year, and things got rather intense-but all ended fairly well.)

Even in “retirement”, the plight of the world, and all those I care about, settles deeply into my consciousness. The possibilities for responsible action remain endless.

Safeguarding

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December 8, 2022- A chirpy voice uttered a “complimentary” greeting to me, as I was leaving the building. I looked down to see a very short person, looking up at me with a radiant smile. This was either a ruse or a slightly disturbed individual, given the nature of the words-which I will not repeat here. Suffice it to say, a person my age is NOT someone who is usually the recipient of such comments. We both kept walking in opposite directions, and I did not look back; there was no reason to, unless I myself was disturbed. Making a big deal of it would have been evidence of the latter.

My charges and I had just had a good, honest talk, in which I reassured them, especially a young man, that they could opt out of a reportedly graphic information presentation on matters which used to be handled between father and son, or mother and daughter. Both the boy and his female classmates seemed relieved that they did not have to sit through someone else’s idea of valid information. (The individual mentioned above was not part of that class, and was not anyone I had ever seen before.)

We live in an age when there is both honesty about matters of the flesh and gross overkill as to how soon in life someone should make a determination about his/her gender identity and as to who is to help make that determination. (My own position is that no gender change should be made, until a person is at least 18, and then, only when armed with full information on all aspects of such a change,) We live in an age when entire generations have grown up with adulterated food, air and, in many cases, water. We have no clear idea what specific effects the substances, from GMOs to microplastics to heavy metals, have had on human beings and other living things. Hormonal imbalances, along with mental disorders and early onset diseases, may very well be a result of these substances being present.

We also live in an age when there is both free flowing commentary about once private matters and anonymity, in speech, and between even people living in close proximity to one another; sometimes, between people living in the same house. One by-product of these is a plethora of confused and frightened individuals. Thus, the highly intelligent young man who was all too vocal about what he regarded as institutional overkill, in trying to influence his decision-making, which he preferred be a matter between his father and himself,

It is no secret, in this community, and on the pages of this blog, that I love young people very deeply, in the true sense of the word. I recently watched a program, in which one of the characters said, “We safeguard those we love. We keep them from harm, coming from any source.” That has been my modus vivendi, since I was probably 9 years of age. Maybe being the oldest of five children had something to do with it; maybe realizing that life is tough, no matter what age one is, had its influence. In any case, I long ago decided my life’s work would be helping young people safely realize their dreams and to the extent possible, on their own terms. That is how our son was raised, and that is how I advise anyone else.

If I again encounter the child mentioned at the top of this post, my words will be the same as with others: “Walk carefully; speak thoughtfully; live authentically; dream fearlessly.”

The Next Needful Steps

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November 25, 2022, Grapevine- I). In mid-1984, while Penny and I were presenting on a Baha’i theme, at a diverse gathering of people, in Spring, TX, northwest of Houston, we were interrupted by an indignant person, who wanted to know by what authority any white people could recommend such simplistic actions as we were describing to a largely black audience.

The articulate, lovely Sharon made several valid points, not the least of which was that people become “schooled” in the experiences of their audience, before addressing issues through a lens that is not necessarily applicable to said audience. That we were taken aback by “hostility” to “a loving message” seems quaint now-after Rodney King, James Byrd, Jr., Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Breanna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other victims, beaten or killed while in various degrees of doing daily activities-and all because others were addressing issues through a lens not applicable to the presenting situation.

Penny later taught children several lessons that involved seeing through different coloured lenses. That was a good first step, and I have been left to take further steps in gaining increased awareness, applying lessons imparted in books to my daily life. As with any other aspect of life, through which I’ve stumbled, understanding and embracing people of colour is an exercise in mindfulness, translated to action.

II.) The good-natured, playful girls saw me watching their activity, in the afternoon classroom, and decided to teach a lesson of their own, by staging a staring contest. I “blinked” first, and gave them the “win”. A few weeks earlier, similar vigilance, at a different school, was described as discomfiting, by the young woman who was clearly trying to get out of doing her assignment, though for valid personal reasons.

A residual aspect of my autism leads me to observe people in a situation, often not speaking at first. This has, as indicated above, landed me in hot water, to a limited extent, over the years-with women, girls, interracial couples, gay people. I have set two goals, to be achieved sooner, rather than later: 1. Engage such people in conversation, immediately, rather than stare at them for even a few seconds. 2. Make my purpose in attending to them clear, in an articulate manner. There is nothing to be gained from being tentative or hesitant. People are not zoo animals.

Approaching the start of my seventy-third year, the next needful steps in improving my interactions with others are crystal clear. Everyone deserves to know my heart, not misinterpret my mind.

A Non-Starter

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November 21, 2022- Both of us are respectful of electricity and its power, being careful to avoid mishandling the pair of battery jumper cables. Friend was glad to hand off the task of attaching the cables cables to me. I did so, easily enough, but when I started Sportage and tried the same with the problem vehicle- crickets. As a “door is ajar” warning sound continued to ding, even when all doors were closed, I suspect a short in the wiring. I gave friend a ride to a place of lodging, and he will resume dealing with the matter tomorrow morning, hopefully with help from his insurance carrier.

This was nearly the last task to occupy me today, before my flight to Dallas, early Tuesday. The day mostly consisted of accompanying a 10-year-old student from one class to another. She is soft-spoken around adults, but is very much independent and seemingly in charge of her disability, rather than the other way around. The day went well, and her teacher asked me to consider taking on the task full-time. While it might be better for a younger, female paraprofessional to do the job day-to-day, I am not ruling it out for the second semester.

The last task was to conduct a Baha’i study of social action formulae. We came close to finishing the unit, but my purpose is to generate meaningful discourse, which indeed came out of our study of three sections. leaving two to examine, next Monday evening. This will mean my birthday dinner will be an early event, which I prefer anyway.

After a bit of packing for tomorrow, it was early to bed- with joy at a productive day.

Thunderbird

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November 20, 2022- As I sat with two young siblings, in a friend’s apartment, they began drawing and then painting, images on cloth canvas squares. The kids did marvelous depictions of Pokemon characters and yin/yang symbols. My friend asked if I wanted to do a canvas of my own, which sounded like fun. I did a free-style depiction of a prehistoric bird, using a few colours: Red torso, black beak and legs, yellow tuft and green head. I would be surprised if any actual bird looked like that, but it was a nice, light activity.

It did get me thinking about the thunderbird, a common mythological creature of North America, ascribed by Algonquian-speaking peoples in the Pacific Northwest, eastern Canada, the northeast United States and the Great Lakes region, with thunderous wing-flapping and the ability to hurl lightning at giant serpents and other underwater creatures. It was said that thunderbirds ruled the land and sky, whilst serpents and underwater panthers shared the underworld. I heard about thunderbirds, growing up, and while they remain fanciful, the colour scheme has a polyglot, rainbow quality (Northwest) or has blue-black feathers.

The mythological nature of the beast, in turn, reminded me of the superhuman powers that we sometimes ascribe to actual creatures-even to the microbial level. I have fought a hard, but somewhat manageable, cold, over the past four days. It is at the point now, where it is subsiding and there is only a smidgen of mucous, itself clear. This is what I refer to as change-of-seasonitis, and it has usually showed up, around late October. My ailment has none of the symptoms attributed to COVID-19, and does remind me, pure and simple , of other bad colds I’ve had this time of year. The thunder is subsiding now,thankfully, and with a good rest and hydration, I will be fine for Tuesday’s flight.