P.C.

6

June 25, 2017, Bellemont, AZ-

We’ve undergone a wealth of name-changes, relative to how people see various groups, into which we classify ourselves, and others, since the early 1960’s.  It’s almost become so that many are almost paralyzed, when it come sot referencing people who “fall into categories of ‘the other’.”

I’ve spent the past 48 hours at a Baha’i camp, 1 1/2 miles west of this small village, itself 12 miles west of Flagstaff.  Several new friends, of different ages, were made, as is always the case.  One beautiful family of seven is “racially-blended”, if we are to believe the doctrine of political correctness.  The father of this family was one of the presenters at our Summer School.  He addressed racial identity and political correctness.  He is not a fan of P.C., insofar as it allows us to dance around the subject of racial relations.

When I was growing up, my parents told us never to use racial,  ethnic, or sexual epithets.  I was taught to address people by the name which they used to introduce themselves.  It was fine to call a person of colour a Negro, until people of colour themselves preferred Black, then African-American.  Using the pejorative form of Negro would have earned me an oral cleansing, and not with candy-flavoured mouth wash.

We Baha’is believe, as one of the central tenets of our Faith, that there is, as Baha’u’llah wrote. “but one race, the human race.”  Having said that, it is NOT WRONG, to stand firm against discrimination of any kind.  This runs the gamut- from denying people their basic human rights, based on pigmentation, height, gender, change of gender, economic status, or personal creed/religion.  It is also imperative to acknowledge someone’s basic goodness, in any area of endeavour or character feature.

“One race, the human race”, does not exclude people of colour, people of intense faith, people who hail from  desert wastes or from an urban wasteland, who eat mainly fast food or who eat raw food. It safeguards the human rights of people who adhere to our Faith, to previously-revealed Faiths or to no Faith at all.

So, political correctness has its limits.  These are tantamount to over-tightening a nut, on a wheel.  The nut becomes stripped, useless.  Not being able to describe a person, in terms perfectly acceptable to that individual and her peers, is a paralysis of denial.  My new African-American friend, his European-American wife, their four creative, lovely daughters and vibrant, disabled son should never have to endure the embarrassment of having to watch as someone, who claims to be their well-wisher, is tongue-tied, when it comes to describing any of them, to someone else.

This weekend was time well-spent.

His Social Contract

11

June 22, 2017, Prescott- 

Dad left us, thirty-one years ago, today.  He sometimes told others, but not me, that he couldn’t quite figure me out, but that he was sure I’d end up okay.  I heard all this, from my less-reticent father-in-law, a few years after Dad had passed.

He did teach us all about the social contract.  His tenets were succinct:

  1.  Your word is bond.  The few times I caught Hell from him were mainly centered on not doing what I had promised.  I’ve made it a priority, as an adult, to keep my promises.
  2. Individual relationships are the cornerstone of all else.  His take was,  “What good is the ‘greater good’, if it’s based on everything bad?”  This was in reaction to both the left-wing excesses of the late 1960’s, and to the conservative backlash of the Nixon years.  Dad held court, each weekday evening before supper, in the screened front porch, during late spring, summer and early fall, while switching to his recliner, in the living room, during the colder months.  One or two men, either relatives, or guys from work, would show up and kibbitz, over a can of beer.
  3.  Women “did best” by tending to home and hearth; though he saw it as  good, that  Mom earned money of her own, by styling hair, in the kitchen.  She was a top flight cosmetologist and hair dresser, so it was a marvelous arrangement.  I also got to hear very interesting commentary, on a variety of topics, from the women who came for her services, whilst doing my homework or hand-writing my little “newspaper”.  He also forbade us from making messes or asking for clothes to be washed, on weekends.  His view was that Mom worked five days a week, on housework, and that was enough.  We learned, early on, to make our own beds, put our clothes away, carry anything that was on the stairs up to the appropriate room, and fix our own breakfasts and lunches. (I never did subscribe to the idea that a woman was best off staying home, but it was the reality, in the 1950’s, for many.)
  4.  A real man could party late into the night, (he seldom did), but would dutifully get up the next day and do a full day’s work.  I took that one to heart, even in my lowest days of drunken excess.  It was, to my mind, the best cure for a hangover, anyway.  Many a Saturday morning would find me out in the yard, making myself useful, after having come home a useless wretch.  He liked the first, as much as loathed the second.
  5. Don’t spend more than you take in.  He’d have been apoplectic, had he lived to see us go over the financial edge, in the 2000’s.  Then again, he’d have seen it coming, and raised his voice, well before we bought the house, while Penny was struggling with her health issues.  It would have been, “Stay the damned course!”.  He’d be happier with me now.  Some lessons are just that way.

Fatherhood

6

June 18, 2017, Prescott-

The little girl told her father that she wanted to go over to an open area, at the memorial service for one of her school mates, so that she might do flips and somersaults.  “Go ahead”, said the man, while casting a wary eye about the grounds, “I’m watching you.”

This is among the fastest moving years I can remember.  Even staying closer to Home Base, for much of June, there has been no end to full days of activity, geared towards the betterment of the world.  That’s what we are expected to do, though- leave the world a better place than we found it.

I believe I have made a step in that direction, by raising a human being to adulthood, and pointing him in the direction that seemed most sensible to me- and most importantly, to him.  He has not disappointed me, once, since taking the vow of service to his country, and moving forward as an intelligent, hard-working young man.

My Dad saw me through some tough times, never giving up.  I miss him, yet I’m glad he didn’t have to see the difficulties through which we lived, in the first ten years of this century.  On the other hand, I will do all I can to support Aram, if trials and turbulence come again his way.

As to those hard ten years, 2001-11, commitment as a father means commitment as a husband.  I stayed true to Penny and did everything possible, to make sure she was in charge of her own life, to the end, no matter what pressures were brought on us by “experts” and well-meaning people, who just wanted to “get ‘er done”.  We honed our consultation skills, which were more something I, more than she, had to develop. It’s academic, as to whether we would have been better-served by using a debt reduction service, rather than filing for bankruptcy, but we chose the latter, and it’s all in the past, now.  Good life lessons were learned, late, and not lost on our son.

I see the vast majority of fathers, at least those with whom I have some contact, being wonderful, dedicated men.  None of us walks on water, yet we are producing fairly well-grounded young people.  Some are intensely vigilant; others, like the man mentioned above, are cautious, but relaxed enough to let their sons and daughters step out on their own, according to ability.

Fatherhood, even when children mature, and seem a million miles away, is an eternal blessing.  I look forward to many more years of that blessing and, if God wills, to its logical outgrowth:  Grandfatherhood.

 

Only In Indio

10

June 11, 2017, Indio-

Before leaving Prescott, this afternoon, I called my very inspirational youngest living brother, on the occasion of his birthday.  He’s legally blind, yet has never failed to work, steadily, over the past thirty-five years since his college graduation.  His work has always involved a high level of responsibility, and on he goes.

A nice little brunch party followed my conversation, this one in a lovely garden patio, in Prescott Valley.  The conversation there centered on the fine line between creative thought and following one’s own path, versus the “right” to be willfully disobedient to the institutions of one’s chosen Faith.  I am no one’s idea of a Yes Man, but breaking a covenant is as far from where I want to be, as the proverbial Hell  itself.  The person who conjured thoughts of having one’s own sect, gingerly retreated and hopefully will remain so.  The party continued, a pleasant, lovely affair.

I headed out, towards southern California, around 3:30 PM, successfully avoiding whatever back to LA traffic slog might have ensued.  Dinner at a fine, best-kept-secret place, Nichols West, in the tiny old mining town of Congress, certainly helped in that avoidance.  Run by an acerbic, but somewhat cordial, New Zealander, Nichols offers a variety of burgers with unusual toppings, intense salads, exquisite Mexican fare and a surprising variety of seafood.  I chose the brie & avocado burger, with a modest helping of shoestring fries.  The burger was fabulous, grass-fed beef, crispy bacon and moist, ripe avocado wedges, held together by a generous coating of melted brie.  A lovely, very pleasant team of waitresses didn’t hurt the occasion, either.

I digress, though.  I decided to stop here, at City Center Motel, given that what lies ahead of me is I-10, CA 57 & 22 to Highway 1.  At the end of that jaunt lies Palos Verdes Peninsula, where I will make the hike from a gorgeous overlook, down to the shore.  Then, it’ll be a fair drive, with stops at Long Beach’s pier, Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, before securing a spot in one of the state beach campgrounds, en route to Crystal Cove.

“Only in Indio”?  That is an ubiquitous sign, along Hwy. 111, and Business 10.  It alludes to the Coachella Music Festival, held in this area every April.  Then, this area fills to the brim with alt-rock lovers from all over.  Now, however, it’s a cool night in June.  Motel rooms cost less than $ 100 per night, and I gratefully parked my carcass in a nice one.

It happens, in Indio, that one can walk, safely, along the 111, for two miles, and not find anywhere, other than an AM/PM., to get a cup of coffee.  This is, as much as anywhere else in southern California, a city designed for the automobile, while those whose fortune, or whose choice, it is to be without wheels, manage to walk along wide and well-kept sidewalks, taking the time they need to get from A to B.  Somehow, I enjoy being among them, walking the flat surface of the Colorado Desert cityscape.

Now, it’s bedtime.  I pray for a little boy who didn’t survive a beat-down, allegedly at the hands of his stepfather.  It’ll take some time before I can pray for the stepfather, and all I can do right now is resolve to be ever better at being kind and loving to those children I, myself, encounter, every day.

Knowing When

13

June 8, 2017, Prescott-

My sister’s mother-in-law passed on, this morning, after putting up a good fight, for a good many years. It was just time for her to go on and re-join her husband.  She was one of those souls who walked her own path, without apology.  It was a loving path, but not one that was understood by many people.  I can identify with many elements of that road.

My son and his girlfriend have found themselves on a path, together, that has certainly brought affirmations to his life, and I am sure, to hers.  I’m glad to read of their being focused just on one another, when they are in each other’s presence. As an only child, he has struggled with loneliness, and coped by building hybrid families of peers, when we lived in Phoenix.  He has natural leadership abilities, which of course are more obvious to others, including yours truly, than to himself.  His beautiful friend sees these qualities, I’m certain.  It’s one of the things that gave her the sense of when it was right to walk by his side.

My work situation seems to have becalmed.  I have been assured of a position, come Fall. I am also closer to finishing my yard work- just two small sections remain in the back, and some maintenance work awaits, in the front.  I began gathering things , this afternoon, which can possibly be useful to the Women’s and Family Shelter, and a few things that might be useful to a day center for the homeless.  That work will continue, over the next several days.  It is obvious that it’s time to get rid of all clutter.

Knowing when is the key to a successful outcome.

 

 

Peacefulness Is Back

10

June 7, 2017, Prescott-

Questions of longevity are always in the background, as I think about what one might do, over the next three to five years. I just finished reading a book, Apocalypse, by Dr, Jim Richards, a Christian writer and broadcaster, and will have more to say about said book, a post or two from now.  The thing I wish to mention, here, is Dr. Richards’ trust in God is a true thing of beauty, and I have to say, I share just about all of it.  That gives me something on which to work.

Several things happened today, all of them good.  I pretty much am down to two large and two small sections of brush, to be cleared, after a mild, cool morning served as my incentive to get more done than I had planned.  I got more supportive e-mails from the District, including one I had never expected, from my recent supervisor.  Goes to show, I need to work on my reading of people’s cues.  Anyway, the job situation looks set for the coming year.

Housing is something about which I am still pondering.  I am also getting advice, mostly unsolicited, about my supplemental finances.  The final decisions about both will be made towards the end of this month.

Having spoken at length with Aram, last night, I reiterate as to how proud I am of what he has achieved, and how he is facing continuing challenges.  He has another person to support him in his efforts now, and that, as many of us know, will make all the difference.

The car will get serviced on Friday, I will continue downsizing and yard work, the rest of this week- and the latter part of next,  and in between, run an errand of mercy in southern California, as well as visiting a friend, or three, there.

Rough patches tend not to last long, if one pushes forward with, as Muhammad Ali said, “eyes on the prize”.

Thirty-fifth

10

June 6, 2017, Prescott- 

So, on this day, thirty-five years ago, I made the wisest move I have ever made, and took the vow of matrimony.  A Baha’i marital vow is simple:  “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.”  That divine will took the two of us to great heights:  Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Places, in Haifa and Akko’, with side visits to  Holy Places of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee; various journeys of service around North America, to Guyana and to Taiwan; many years of work with children and youth, on the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi Nations and perhaps, most consequentially, five and one-half years in Jeju, Korea, the birthplace of our son.  There were depths to be navigated, as well:  Penny’s debilitating disease, the worst effects of which were concurrent with the subprime mortgage crisis, the Madoff scandal and the “Great Recession”-each of which impacted us, directly or indirectly.  Standing by her side, until the end, was simply part and parcel of what my love called me to do.  Likewise, as I confronted my own demons, in the midst of all this, she supported me and her spirit has brought me through to the other side of the tunnel.

I am reminded of so much, this morning, after talking at length with our son, who, likewise, has stood by me, disagreeing with some family members, when they castigated what they saw as my irresponsibility and setting me straight, when he has seen the path veering off in an odd direction.  He’s been right, on both counts, showing that the one thing I have done right in this life has been to raise and guide an exemplary human being.  This morning, I looked at photos of Aram and his sweetheart, sensing that he continues to thrive and find his way along this marvelous, but often treacherous, road.

I have reached a minor crossroads, in my own life.  There is the option of staying the course, which would cause discomfort for my critics, as well as, initially, for me.  There is the option of moving to a more rustic part of Prescott, a place I visited yesterday, and find most salubrious.  There is the option of moving to a high desert community, close to the workplace of two of the most supportive souls I’ve ever known.  In each case, I know it’s time, as I’ve said repeatedly of late, to simplify, to downsize and to detach.

Thirty-five years after we took our vows, my love’s spirit urges me on.

Need v. Want

10

June 2, 2017, Prescott-

I postponed tomorrow’s scheduled drive north,

due to complications with finances.

It’ll all get straightened out,

a matter of need trumping want.

Several people have posted “Go Fund Me” blurbs,

some for making rent,

others for buying a plane ticket,

still others for medical care,

or meals.

I won’t do such a thing,

for myself,

as there is no NEED.

In my family,

Dad said “If you want it, earn it”.

I still go by that.

If I get extra, from the Universe,

beautiful.

Mostly, though, it’s what I have made.

Those waiting for their gifts from me,

will just have to wait a bit longer,

until the mess gets sorted out.

In the meantime,

my car payment goes out, tomorrow.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXVIII: It’s Not Heat That Hurts

7

June 1, 2017, Phoenix-

I came here to do two things.  First was to deliver a box of books and some food, to a loving, struggling young couple.  An entry error on WAZE  put me in central Phoenix, whilst their home was in a town several miles to the west.  A phone call, a corrected entry and some help from the staff of the apartment complex’s leasing office helped get the job done.  Husband is a mechanical innovator, and a true survivor.  Wife is a sweet lady, and works tirelessly, as well. I am glad to see how far they have come, as a unit.

My second task was easier:  Getting a document for my son.  Since that included stopping at Romanelli’s Deli, not far from his alma mater, I was in the best of graces.  A delectable sausage and peppers submarine sandwich and purified water set the rest of my afternoon on a good footing.  Promise to self:  Spinach and baby kale for dinner, tonight! The document was in hand, ten minutes after I filed my request, and the very professional Registrar gave me her business card, so that the process will be even more streamlined, still.

While tooling about my home city of ten years (2001-11), I felt a still aching pull on my spirit.  The area in which I spent most of my time was where most of the day-to-day heartache occurred, and the west side was where Penny spent her final days.  I know I have to root these feelings out, and not be shy about being in these parts of our blessed Home.  There are many good people in the Phoenix area, people who loved us, and were hurt that I moved away.  The pain, to me, comes from the anonymity of living in a large city, with so many people who came here to be anonymous.

Anonymity brings out the worst in many.  The mentality seems to be:  ” I don’t know anyone here, so why remember my manners?”  This mindset is hardly limited to Phoenix, or to the Southwest.  I’ve seen it elsewhere, wherever there are large numbers of “move-ins”. I tend to think of others, just because it gives meaning to my life.  I’d sooner let a headstrong, overwrought person have a small “victory”, or two, if it:  a) doesn’t cost me much, in terms of dignity and b) doesn’t give him/her a false sense of entitlement.  There are many things in one’s day which are best let happen, rather than having an equally entitled “arbiter” step in and unilaterally make things worse.  I trust in the conscience to kick into gear, more often than we give it credit for doing.

So, I feel pretty good about having come here, today, and it wasn’t all that hot outside.

 

 

 

Sixty Six for Sixty-Six,Part XXXVII: Three Couples and A Lone Wolf

10

May 27, 2017, Superior-   I adore strong couples.  I was surrounded, in childhood, by husbands and wives whom none of us could imagine being without one another.  Of course, there were the ones who just could not get along, and who went their separate ways; they were three, out of thirty six, or so.

I spent the afternoon at SunFlour Market, with two dear women friends, whose combined spirit could brighten the gloomiest of days.  Both are happily married, and in fact, I met the husband of SunFlour’s owner, and saw that he is very much involved with his wife’s success.  The younger couple could be my own children, and in fact, I feel like I’ve known the wife forever.  A musician was also present, playing a truncated guitar, produced by Go Guitars, of California.  His wife later came in, having just enjoyed a special health-related treat.

Four of us got onto the subject of keeping oneself healthy, in the face of aging.  Three of us are in our sixties and my young friend is forty-something, looking mid-thirty-ish.  We agreed that it is the blitheness of one’s spirit that keeps us going, as well as using the purest of foods and personal cleansing products.   I fully intend to keep on with that, for decades to come.  I want the same for everyone else, as long as their quality of life is intact.  No one should suffer, years on end.

I want to see married couples enjoy one another, also for decades to come, and to grow ever closer, not apart.  Someone dear to my heart will marry next year.  Someone else dear to me has found a person with whom to build a relationship.  As I write this, I see the face of my departed love, smiling brightly.  I may be a lone wolf, right now, but I know the full joy of being in a strong bond.