Offense

11

June 8, 2019,Bellemont- 

A young woman I’ve known since she was a child will be married, in a few hours.  It’s a beautiful day here and, though I will be here at camp, rather than at the wedding, I absolutely wish the new couple every good thing.

One of the key aspects of married life, as well as of any relationship, is not taking offense at one another. Whether mannerisms, tone of voice, inattention to another’s feelings, not doing one’s fair share, or a host of other personal shortcomings, every person has challenges.

We are advised to neither ignore, nor take offense at, another person’s actions, on  a personal level.  If someone causes harm to another, it is  the aggrieved’s right to seek redress, at an institutional level..  It is not, however, the right of anyone to hold grudges, and to carry forward a resolved issue into one’s future dealings with someone.

One surely must protect self from a person, or group of people, who ACTIVELY  seek to degrade her/him.  Just living differently than the person taking offense, or not doing what the aggrieved thinks is one’s proper course of living, is not, in itself, cause for their bearing a grudge.  “Live and let live” has its merits, as a mantra, so long as innocents aren’t made to suffer as a result.

I say this, with regard to those who have taken umbrage at some recent decisions I’ve made-and hold myself to the same standard.  I can’t justify a “reverse grudge” at them, either.  This is one of the many true aspects of St. Francis D’Assisi’s admonition: “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

Believing Without Seeing

5

June 7, 2019, Bellemont-

So, you think if you can’t

see, hear, smell or touch

the love that flows,

it must not exist?

I feel very badly for you,

my hypercritical friend.

So many feel that way about

the Creator.

I learned, long ago,

not to depend

on the physical senses

alone.

If all there was

were the physical sensations,

then there would be

no ongoing purpose.

There would likely be no dreams.

There would be no unexplained events.

There would be no spiritual truths.

I will never leave you

to your own dark view  of the world.

While it saddens me,

that your life experiences

have led you to this point,

my life energy has led me to

a far different place.

I wish you a turnaround,

that you may know of what I speak.

Namaste.

 

Why We Fight

9

June 5, 2019-

I came back down to Prescott, to support a gathering of friends, being one of the few occasions I am allowing myself to be here, the next two months.  There is, simply put, much I feel I have to do elsewhere-starting with the Junior Youth (Middle-school age) gathering, this weekend, in which I will assist.  Understand that I am taking full ownership of my choices.

The title of the post came about largely in reaction to this week’s slow news item about an ongoing “high level” feud, which I will not dignify by mentioning its specifics.  I am not much of a fighter, for fighting’s sake.  Threats to children and other vulnerable beings are another matter.

I see, though, that there is fair amount of quarreling that takes place.  Fear seems to be the main driver- the old “fight or flight” choice is usually offered. Some fear not being taken seriously.  Others fear the loss of their position or dignity.  Still others fear even the loss of all they value.  I am not cowed by those who act out of fear; neither will I necessarily accede to their demands.  There are ways, through consultation, to remove fear-based decision making.

Ego is another impetus.  If one is given to think of self as some sort of master, then scolding, berating or being otherwise forceful with those around self is the order of the day.  I know of one person,no longer in my life, who has nonetheless recently tried to re-enter, with psychic threats of  otherwise making my life in Prescott so miserable, that I will flee.  None of it will work.  Baha’u’llah once is said to have written that, unless one is so firm in faith, that not even the presence of all one’s enemies, with drawn swords, would cause vacillation, then the soul can not truly call self a true believer.  I accept that, even without knowing the exact source.  Besides, Penny and the other angels in my life are around to see me safely along.

I also accept that my friends and family will only value me, as much as I value them.  The Universe operates on this principle.  Were it not so, the human race would be even more hamstrung by imbalance than we already are.

I want, by patience and remaining present, to eliminate as many of the conflicts in my life as is humanly possible.  Be back when I can, over the next few limited-Internet days.

 

Sacrifice

18

May 31, 2019-

I was mildly upbraided for my summer plans, with the person exhorting me to consider “sacrifice”, for the sake of those who might need me to be here.  Sacrifice does mean giving up something, for a larger good.  So, let me look at that.

I live in one of the most desirable communities I’ve ever known.  It would, actually, be the easiest thing in the world, to stay here through the summer, and be at the beck and call of a relative handful of people.  Summers in Prescott are laid back. I could walk down to Courthouse Square or over to one of the colleges that are within walking distance.  I could hang out at Ms. Natural’s or The Raven Cafe, in the morning hours, then get together with friends in the evening, for regular spiritual study or other elevated conversations.

I live, however, for the wider world-as well as for my Home Base.   My journeys are NOT “taking a break from routine”, as was suggested.  Perhaps the person making that statement sees self, and some others up here, as feeling trapped- perhaps.  In truth, none of us here are trapped, in the literal sense.  I use time that is not devoted to work, to connect with other friends and family- not to hang out in luxury accommodations or visit theme parks.

There have been several years in my life, when the wider world had to wait, precisely because responsibilities did occupy my life, 24/7.  Such circumstances could find me again.  In any of these cases, it is a labour of love.  I do not view time spent here as a sacrifice, in any way, shape or form.  Nor do I view time spent on the road as an extravagance.

Closure

15

May 22, 2019-

I was invited, by my former building principal, to attend an end-of -year barbecue.  I went, and he greeted me pleasantly at the door.  A few former co-workers exchanged small talk, and I had a nice lunch. Predictably, some of the elite in my former department turned their backs when I sat down.  That’s what they do.  I did not budge from my seat.

Closure, in a stratified environment, is often hard to achieve.  I give the principal, and my former team members credit, though, for having the integrity to not define me by the unfortunate misunderstandings that led to discretion being the better part of valour, last month.  The principal did what he had to do, and everyone else adjusted.  There was simply no time, or space, for a proper investigation into the false accusations.  I know this, from having been in his shoes.  There are some very fluid situations, on occasion, and time does not wait around.  The safety of students is what matters most.

Education will continue, and will hopefully continue to improve.  I will keep on going and, even if I find it difficult to remain in this community after this Fall, I will find peace wherever I am.  At least I have closure, with regard to leaving my post.

Lions, Lightning, and Lessons Learned

4

May 20, 2019-

A book of memories and reflections, written by my brother (5 years my junior), came in the mail today.  It set me thinking, again, about my own lessons learned, over the years.  My  book may well be written with the same tools he used, but it will wait until I have made a fair amount of progress in a good friend’s archival project, on which I embarked today.

Dave is one of the lions in my life, and seeing our childhood through his lens is a sublime treasure.  He’s gone after what he has wanted and not been deterred by setbacks-whether imposed from within or from outside forces.  He has also set me to thinking, hard at times, about the direction of my life- usually when I least wanted it, but always when I needed it.

My late father-in-law was another lion-and had a roar to prove it.  He nonetheless had a loyal and loving spirit.  Norm was made in the crucible of World War II, in a mixed Prisoner of War/Concentration Camp.  Those lessons left him at first shaking his head, at what Penny and I thought of as “life challenges”, then compelled him to stand behind us, when the life challenges became all too real.

As an educator, I have learned as much from the students who gave me comeuppances, as from those who were my cheering squad.  David B was a full-on lion, seeing exactly what needed to be done, who was keeping it from getting done and how to cause the riot necessary to get the human barriers out of the way.  In school, it got him in trouble-sometimes with yours truly and more often with the more conservative school principal,Peter Webb.  In life, David’s leonine bent eventually got him killed.

Mr. Webb was a lion in his own right-and arguably the only reason I was able to keep my job for a full two years, before Mr. Nixon’s ax cut Title I funds, in 1978.   He saw my work ethic, though, and when I took a job in rural southern Arizona, Mr. Webb was a key reference.

I had a rough and tumble time, whilst working in some of the neighbourhood schools in the barrios of Phoenix’s western suburbs- and in a few of the more “upscale” areas, as well.  Had it not been for Robert T., and his fiery tongue, I might have stumbled, unchanged, through the five years of balancing being Penny’s primary caretaker with earning money by substituting, and been a good deal less useful.

I was not the finest of classroom instructors.  My presentation was only a slight notch above Ben Stein’s character, in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.  Robert had seen the movie, and did not mince words about his needs as a student not being met.  I didn’t last long in that setting, but I drew the needed lesson.  I’ve often thought of Robert T, and would not be surprised if he has made a fair success of his life-learning difficulties aside.

Lightning enters our lives, when we don’t listen to the lions amongst us.  There were a few such strikes in my life: You have read of the worst of them, the last few years of Penny’s disease.  There were cars wrecked, all but one, by other people, and that one had been compromised by someone’s tampering, in the night.  There was a financial wreck, directly related to our struggles with dis-ease.  There were jobs lost, to political wrangling and my own stubbornness.

The lions, if we listen closely, can steer us away from the lightning.

 

Intensity and Isolation

8

May 15, 2019-

When I first awake, many mornings, I contemplate a feeling of increasing isolation here.  The Western states, especially the Southwest, have an ambiance of anonymity- or perhaps that is just the reality of apartment/ head for the garage and lower the door living, anywhere  This is what greets me, with the dawn.

Once up and at ’em, my social media shows that, from the safe distance of behind the screen, my  friends are with me.  Most have their own agendas and schedules, and I was raised to not intrude on anyone’s space.  I have to appreciate that I have friends at all, so our correspondence is much appreciated.

I tend to be quiet, but also very intense in my feelings.   I tend to care greatly, even about relative “strangers”, but do not often verbalize my caring.  This combination does not always serve me well,  particularly when in certain local restaurants.   Besides,older single men are not received well by everyone, when taking up a table.  This adds to a feeling of isolation, as I have indicated in past posts.  In my own case, though, it’s probably better for my physical health-as the establishments in question offer largely high-calorie fare.

It occurred to me, this morning, that the problem is not so much that I am wearing out my welcome here, as that what I need is to end my own isolated living situation and find a small community of people who support one another, not by appointment or scheduled time, but intentionally, naturally.  This is what I miss about the little team of which I was a part, until April 3.  This is what I miss about the hostels where I stayed last summer; about being with friends and family  in Nevada, Philadelphia,  Florida and  Tennessee; about having been in Korea, a few months ago.  There is no easy answer on the horizon, but I know something will surface.

Vulnerability and Soothing Blend

4

May 11, 2019-

I just finished watching a TED Talk on “Shame”. This came about four hours after someone, with whom I was working as a volunteer, mildly upbraided me for not working at a paying job.  (This person is not working at a paying job, either.)

I am ever willing to stand outside and be vulnerable to criticism, knowing that a) I can’t live with myself, if I am not open and b) The critic is usually seeing, in  me, those things he or she dislikes about self.   That doesn’t mean the criticism never stings- and there are two people who I have banned from my life, in perpetuity, for barrages of that I consider unwarranted attacks. It does mean that those whom I trust, and who do not have hidden agendas, are to speak freely.

The presenter of the above-mentioned video spoke of shame as nearly always a prime impediment to a person being the true self.  Shame is imposed from within, though not always sans influence or instigation from someone else.  When I was younger, it was fairly easy, even for well-meaning people, to wreck my self-confidence and set in motion even false shame.

Since the days when my late wife was in my primary care, I have learned that there are unscrupulous people who will take to questioning even the most basic decisions a person can make- usually with a view towards financial benefit or other forms of power and control over the person they are questioning.  I have learned that there are those who will attack someone who is defending victims of crimes, almost always as a means of gaslighting or obfuscation.  Both of the people I mentioned above are gaslighters, and they came close to doing a good job of making me feel shamed.

There was just one difference, from the days of my youth:  Time, and hard lessons, have taught me the difference between acknowledging wrongdoing and buying into the script of a narcissist or tyrant.   So now, in an intervening period between jobs, I am not ashamed of not presently earning an income, outside of what I have already set aside for myself.  That situation will change- on my terms, not those of the retired critic.

I am not afraid to be vulnerable, or to experience life’s aches and pains.  The physical variety of these is relieved by what is called Soothing Blend (an oil-based ointment).  The spiritual variety is relieved by prayer, meditation and positive action.

The Shortest Distance, and The Longest

2

May 5, 2019-

“Civilization is precisely the human capacity to say no…….”- Rob Riemen, To Fight Against This Age

Viewing the film “Room”, this evening, I prepared myself for a variety of possible outcomes, none of them good.  Having worked for so long in child protection and recovery from abuse, I know the permutations that such cases can take.  I know that attorneys for the abuser will sometimes do their job all too well, and the cycle will repeat itself, ad nauseam.  I know that sometimes, the good guys win, and people like Erica Pratt, Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart go on to achieve at least a fair amount of normalcy and success, on their own terms.  I’ve seen a mix of the two outcomes, with identity mix-up and role confusion, only resolvable with the maximum amount of patience and sensitivity.

In a complex world, where everyone gets to jump in and have a say, many times with an agenda that has nothing to do with the recovering child, the cases can take  a long sideways route, often twisting like a corkscrew, until nothing is left.  In these cases, money is made, but no one wins.  Fame is achieved, sometimes for people who had nothing to do with the original case-and sometimes for those who did, but who have moved on, past the reality of the victim.

It’s been long enough, since the film was in theaters, that I can applaud how the story panned out.  “Jack” used native intelligence and common sense to save his mother twice- first from their captor, then from herself.  “Joy”, the mother, did well to keep both of them alive, and to recover, from both abandonment by her father and a misguided barrage of criticism from a sensation-seeking journalist.  The film is thus a cautionary tale, for several sectors of society.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  “Jack” was young enough to use that logic, in describing his former place of captivity to the police, and in avoiding the long, twisting, jagged-edged road to recovery faced by his mother.

I like to think that I prefer taking the short route, in my own life, but time has proven that sometimes, the long route has ended up being chosen.

He Wrote, Sang and Loved

6

May 3, 2019, Benson, AZ-

I spent the better part of the day honouring yet another long-time friend, who passed on this past week.  He was, like me, a member of the Baha’i Faith, but it wasn’t always so.  Like yours truly, he did things his way and it didn’t always turn out so well.

Baha’u’llah helped him, the way He helped me.  God’s Messengers do that, for those who pay attention.  People whose lives have been straightened out by their association with Christ can appreciate that.  Of course, there are those who will say they have been helped  solely by their own efforts, and good for them.

In my humble view, though, the efforts of a human being, to overcome insurmountable issues, are only catapulted by Celestial Energy.  So it is, that someone dependent on attraction to something material gets the best leg up, by letting go and letting God.

I invite you to give the video, by the late John Cook and his granddaughter, Britani.  Little by little, each of us can turn weakness into strength.