Lessons from Flubs

6

April 2, 2020-

Never let it be said that I have it all together.  Each day brings its share of little victories, but there are also those times when I’m all thumbs.  Each flub, though, brings a lesson.

This morning, I found myself in front of my laptop screen, trying to take part in an online Yoga class, while keeping myself visible on the Zoom screen AND Keeping the laptop plugged in.  It was a comedy of errors, which I’m glad the instructor could not see.

SOLUTION:  For the next session, whenever that is, I will simply bring the laptop and power cord over to my floor-based power strip, and make myself both visible and ready to roll.

I was up until midnight, waiting for a Facebook Live, which never showed, so my equilibrium was a bit off, and I napped longer, mid-afternoon, than I had planned, thus missing a Zoom call that WAS showing.

SOLUTION:  Don’t stay up until midnight, for a definite maybe.  Find someone who was on the call, OTHER THAN the host, and get an update.

I kept forgetting what Zoom call was going to be when.

SOLUTION:  The big whiteboard that I had bought in December, for travel planning, is now my Zoom Calendar board.  I also keep a Google calendar, for good measure.

Small matters, but they do impart lessons, for what may become larger events, when one has to be “on-game” much of the time.

 

Thirty Days In

2

March 29, 2020-

I began serious application of Coronavirus Disease 19 response planning, on Leap Day, February 29.  In the past thirty days, these have happened:

Work stopped, on March 6, at 3 p.m.  Part of that was Spring Break, but my employer stopped assigning people on March 11.  I got some pay, this past Friday.

I said “see you soon” to friends who have since closed their businesses, moved away from college dorms, stopped playing gigs in local clubs and are generally sequestered.

Prayed, incessantly.

Learned a  lot about navigating Zoom and opened an account with that medium.  Hosted my first meeting on it, today.

Have been catching up with reading, journaling and, yes, Netflix.

Have made plans for “journeys in place”-studying various topics.

Kept in touch with people across the planet, to see how things are going.

Have done take-out orders, just so some support is going their way.  Same with food boxes  from the Farmers Market and groceries for a pop-up food bank at the Toyota dealership.

It’s standard stuff, and part of being a member of society.  Would do it all over again, no questions asked.

Brighter days are ahead.

 

 

 

Membership in Groups

14

March 24, 2020-

I’ve historically had it tough, when being part of a group.  That hasn’t stopped me from trying.  I showed up every day, as a child, to take part the best way I could, in what ever game was being played.  In high school, I had friends with whom I could sit in the library and at lunch, and hang out on weekends.  Many are still connected-at least online.

I didn’t fare so well in the Army, or in college, but my purpose during those years was much different-and so, the work became most important.  The same was true of my first four years of teaching-never an insider, but connected with my students.  So it continued, over the next four decades, but family was my bedrock, and the kids were always the foundation.

I say this, in thinking about the groups with which I’ve been involved over the past nine years.  My Faith community is the strongest connection, followed by the mostly senior crowd at the American Legion, and my younger friends at Prescott College, both groups now in abeyance, until the virus runs its course.  Permaculture groups, like Slow Food and the Farmers Market have warmed to me, over the years.

I have personally committed to helping the Red Cross in the present crisis, only to find there is an “age-ism” rising.  The mentality seems to be that those of us over 65 are “at risk” and therefore ought to keep our distance, even beyond the current social distancing.  It may be that this is an attitude meant to keep us safe, but I find it patronizing-and more than a little cliquish.  I know my limits and would relegate myself to the background, if at all feeling ill.  I also am very tuned into the dynamics of small groups, and having seldom been an insider, can see when a situation is being manipulated to exclude all but the favoured few.

In the event there is a much larger calamity, I have become certified in FEMA’s Points of Distribution.  I am committed to helping my community, whether being welcomed by the elite, or not.  May it all just turn out to be unnecessary.

 

Stop the Squeeze

8

March 23, 2020-

I watched a video last night, which, while not made by a Baha’i, explains Baha’u’llah’s vision of a unified planet, perfectly.  The part that is most relevant for what we are seeing now is this:  Earth is in the beginning stages of cleansing, with simultaneous earth quakes and a huge humanitarian crisis forming the physical manifestations of that cleansing.  What is most needed, for us to build out of these calamities, is true unity of the human race.   This is starting to appear in several countries, with the United States conspicuous in its absence from their number.

Instead, what we are seeing is the same intense squabbling over details of  a national response that has been part of the American scene since the Constitutional Convention of 1781-88.  Back then, there was no real nation, so the states and territories had time to sit and hash things out. The governors and legislators, back home, had matters pretty much in hand.

Governors and legislatures have things in hand today, as well, to varying degrees.  At the Federal level, though, no such luck.  The two “sides” have pretty much continued throwing bones to their bases, forgetting that, in a pinch, liberals and conservatives  left to themselves, without being poked and prodded from above, can get along quite nicely.  I have friends on all points along the spectrum, and do not think of any of them as worthless or a waste of DNA.  Everyone has a piece of the truth.

The jigsaw puzzle, though, is being kept unfinished by perfectionist wire-pullers, for whom a solution would be like poison. For them, being in positions of power is the most critical state of affairs.  Unity, in their view, would lead to wisdom among the populace, who would then cease to follow the leaders.

More’s the pity.  Unity among the people would only enhance the grand national economy, cherished by conservatives.  Unity would decrease, drastically, the number of marginalized people, a major concern  of liberals and progressives.  It would show that “white nationalism” is a myth made up out of whole cloth and would also diminish the need for a the trappings of a Nanny State-so counterproductive to human dignity.

It can be accomplished in either of two ways:  Leaders showing the resolve to put the country ahead of any personal or partisan ambitions, and encouraging people to work together OR fed-up groups taking matters into their own hands, with a possibly long and bloody conflict, that would make the Civil War look like childsplay.

It is time, past time, to stop squeezing the bases.  Let it be known that love of country and its people, at long last trumps ambition.

The Tide

8

March 20, 2020-

I awoke today to a sky that was mixed, in its promises for the day.  As it happened, clouds came and went, allowing a basically sunny day.  I spent much of the day reflecting on a piece that I had written in 1996, which my brother forwarded me, early this morning.

The day stayed mixed. I was not surprised to learn that work is delayed until April 13, at the earliest.  Swinging by Raven Cafe, one of my hangouts, I ordered delectable mushroom soup and a lamb burger with sweet potato fries, as a take-out meal.  Enjoying the soup, sitting outside, whilst watching the antics of a trio of dogs and talking with some of my mates, was arguably the high point of the day.  I took the lamb burger and SPF home, so as not to be a canine tormentor.  It tasted every bit at home,as it would have in public.

After catching up with my photo scanning project, on behalf of a longtime friend, I got a call to head out on a project for a revitalized Yavapai County Angels, delivering food boxes to an elder, picking up more supplies for further deliveries, over the next several days and visiting one of our local grocery stores, as my teammate was hoping against hope for paper products and loaves of bread to give to other elders.  I found three fresh-baked loaves (packaged loaves went the way of toilet paper and most other items.  These will go to some fortunate senior citizen.

The matter of the near future arose, as it always does of late.  There is an ominous feeling, among many of the people I encountered.  Everyone was rattled, to some extent or another, so I kept a low profile, though my saying that grocery stores were still open in states that were on lock-down provoked a furious response.

The tide is roiling.  We can perform random acts of kindness, as many are choosing to do, or we can sequester ourselves in racism and intolerance of any divergent opinions, as even some close to me are starting to do.  This is not a “Chinese” virus, or even an Asian virus, as the president and a few others keep claiming.  It is a worldwide threat, no matter who, or what malevolent force, unleashed it.  The whole of humanity has to move, in unison, to fight it.

I will continue to help in any way I can, for as long as my 69-year-old self is allowed, and as long as those who are committed to  forcing drastic measures, such as martial law, are not allowed to hold sway, we will make progress, acting as a community.

 

Again, The Rising

5

March 19, 2020- 

I crossed a personal watershed this evening, with the quiet conclusion of my last obligatory 19- Day Fast.  Spring and Autumn have taken their places, in North and South, respectively.  The Persian, and by extension, Baha’i, holiday of Naw-Ruz began at sunset and I will joyfully observe the occasion, tomorrow, in a way not yet determined.  I will not have to get up at 5 a.m., but may anyway, just to greet the New Year properly.  Yes, Naw-Ruz is Persian for another trip around the Sun.

I have joined a social group called Earth Rising, and sat in on a Zoom call, for the first time, doing a guided meditation along with dozens of others.  I was asked, by the moderator, what led me to this choice.  It goes back to my childhood.  I have felt a sense of unity with everyone, and with all Creation, since I was three.  That hasn’t always been easily understood by those around me, but it’s easier these days.

People, regardless of their political beliefs or personal Faith, tend to at least see some aspects of a Bigger Picture.  There are limits, though, to what each of us can understand. There are several in Earth Rising, to whom my grasp of the reality of the Universe seems sophomoric and pedestrian.  There are many others, whose understanding is limited to their immediate present, who see an extended view as living in a dream world.  I wish only for a bridge between the two.

There will be a revitalization, after COVID-19, which will likely incorporate a much greater sense of the Oneness of Humanity, a concept that figures prominently in Baha’i teachings and in the modern day focus of thinkers from traditions as old as Hindu to the newest of New Age.  It will be, again, mankind’s Rising.

Converging

6

March 18, 2020-

We are, so to speak, in the process of in-gathering, even as it seems we are in a distancing process.  The political arguments of the two major American political parties are increasingly hollow. The leading candidate of one party offered his solutions to the COVID-19 induced crisis to his opposite number, carte-blanche. Who sits in the White House, come next January, is less important than pulling together and stopping the virus, to the extent possible.

Events,in situ, are being canceled,  with digital means being found to replace many of them.  This will very likely work for the duration of the crisis (2 months-18 months, depending on who is making the assessment).  It is likely to become an alternative, but not a permanent replacement, to on-site meetings, in the way that e-books are an alternative to books in print.

The same will be true, in my humble opinion, to Take-Out and Delivery of items in restaurants and coffee shops, as opposed to dine-in experiences.  We are, in essence, social beings and those of us who live alone, in particular, will resume dining out, in addition to whatever private dinners to which we may be invited, or hold ourselves.

Phone calls are still important.  I called my mother this morning, and as I expected, she is well, lucid and concerned for my well-being.  The same is true of my son, who called me last night. This sort of convergence will never go out of fashion. Texting matters, as well, and social media, despite the flat-footed attempts at censorship, by some of its founders, will only become more crucial to keeping us connected.

As I mentioned earlier, despite being a peripatetic soul, the well-being of my fellows is vastly more important than what I might be inclined to do, if untethered by conscience.  I will be extremely cautious in venturing forth, for the duration of this crisis.  Besides, as I found out, these past two days, my presence is most definitely needed here at Home Base.  It will become even more so, of all of us, in different ways, in the next several months.

In many ways, humankind is converging.

Keeping It Together

0

March 17, 2020-

Hope all who wanted to have a festive St. Patrick’s Day, did so.  I was occupied with helping someone by giving him a safe space, for a day or so.  We ended up being among the relative few who enjoyed a meal at our local Texas Roadhouse.  That will be my last dine-in experience, for at least the next few months.  I will still use such take-out and delivery options as remain available,

There are lots of other changes.  My meetings with Baha’is, the Red Cross and Slow Food will be virtual.  My inchoate connection with Prescott College’s Sustainability Club will remain on hold, until some means are found to also connect online.  Work is suspended, though we may well be compensated, somehow.  Travel?  Only for family emergency, or to explore some of the Southwest’s wonders, in an unobtrusive manner.

I am approaching the end of my last physical Fast, ever.  Future Baha’i Fasts will find me praying for those who are abstaining, not eating or drinking in their presence and performing acts of service, as they present themselves.

I am finding that there are multiple requests for assistance, mostly emotional support, and that they come in clusters of two or three.  Thankfully, I have been able to meet the needs, with a minimum of difficulty.  My main job now is to keep myself together, physically and emotionally. With all that I’ve been given in this life, it has not been hard to do.

Stay focused, and be thankful for what is, and what will be again.

Certitude In A Time of Pestilence

10

March 16, 2020-

In the Turkish Netflix series, “The Protector”, the complex villain tells the title character how easy he made it for her to both subject the populace of Istanbul to an epidemic of plague and to subsequently present the people with a “cure”, which had consequences he couldn’t foresee.

The current reaction of many people to the menace of Coronavirus 19 is similar to that of the Turkish masses, in the SciFi drama.  Fear has led many to either abandon trust in the ability of government, medical professionals and humanitarian organizations or to cling even more tightly to shopworn ideologies and biases, vis-a-vis ANY intervention by those in authority, while confronting this pandemic.

Magical thinking, and trust in the platitudes of populists and demagogues, both in the TV series and in much of the American scene today, has replaced logic and fortitude.  See someone whose politics they dislike, and the bleats go up-and on.

I have to observe, and evaluate, the efforts being made by ALL responsible parties, and never mind their ideologies.  Any less, and the pandemic will not see its “curve flattened”; rather, it will continue to spike, again and again-like the Plagues of the Fourteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. The experience of Europeans, during the first plague, is instructive for us now.  Relying on the words of the ignorant will only reap horror.

Certitude, in this current time of pestilence, can only be found in placing trust in competent physicians and proactive government officials-regardless of one’s own ideology.

Stillness

2

March 15, 2020-

This is the midpoint of  Women’s History Month, the alleged date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated and another day in the continuing collective human response to Coronavirus 19.  Once one gets past the toilet paper hoarders, the nonsensical pandemic deniers claiming this is just a hoax by “the Liberals” (or Bill Gates, et al), and those who think closing the borders will, in and of itself, stop the virus in its tracks, it’s easy to see the big picture.

It is not hard to stay home, if that’s what it will take for the human race to recover.  It is not  too hard to conduct lessons for children, in small neighbourhood groups, if schools are closed (and I will be among those offering such a service, especially if the school where I am working now is closed).  It is not impossible to share what one has, in the way of food, cleaning supplies, etc., if others ask.  My grandparents’ generation raised families and kept their lives together, under far worse conditions, during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War Ii.

It begins with becoming still, with focusing and remembering just who we are and of what we are made.  Baha’u’llah, Whose life and Whose family’s lives were excruciating at times, calls the process being “dry in the ocean”.  I have sometimes been viewed as being too sanguine, but this is exactly what got my family through Penny’s long illness and her passing. It is what got my parents, long before that, through my youngest brother’s very long struggle and decline in health-and got our family through the passing of my father.

Those who stick together are the survivors of each crisis and the teachers, come the next subsequent calamity.

I’ve posted this song before, but it seems apropos once again.