United and Independent

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January 16, 2021-

Today, my focus has been on two things: Sharing things I no longer need and attending to the unity of all life. I am presently reading Amalia Camateros’ “Spirit of the Stones”, an account of her life that focuses on her growth as an embodied soul and deep connection with the elements of Earth: Air, water, mineral and fire. Amalia is a native of Australia, whose primary connection with North America has been with Sedona, our sister city to the northeast.

In one chapter, she relates her most intense visit to Cathedral Rock, perhaps the most energy-laden of the Sedona area’s many vortices. She describes the promontory as appearing to be two souls, standing back to back-united and independent. The standing rocks are often described by those who have spent time on Cathedral Rock as representing a man and a woman- married, but also each their own person.

That set me to thinking: I was in such a marriage, and when one of us needed the other most, we were inseparable. No pun intended, we were one another’s rock. I am seeing more married adults, among my circle of friends, celebrating their spouses. This is a reverse of what I used to see, from the ’90s into the 2010s, though I know many will reply: “I’ve always been in love with my spouse.” There was more bickering, not so many years ago, and I sense that, with life hard enough as it is, people are realizing what matters most in life.

There is also a rise in the understanding that each human being is a unique soul and that there is no ownership of one by another. Even the use of “my”, in reference to a spouse, or even a child, is fading. Not that many years ago, I was taken to task for using the term “my wife”. The critic was right, though not for the reason he gave (“Only a misogynist would claim to own a woman”). No one owns anyone else, period. It has nothing to do with a person’s psychosexual baggage. Words do matter, though, and when rererring to one’s beloved, children or family members, it’s become my wont to use given names-as well as relationships- end of digression.

Getting back to the blend of unity and independence, the other revelation that came today was with regard to the process of global unity. It must come from the ground up. No downwardly imposed world order will last long. As a community is only as strong as its families, so a planetary order will depend on strong individual nations, each committed to work with the others. This will largely depend, at least initially, on the human race taking the wisdom of the ancients and blending it with the native adaptability of children, in solving novel problems. (I saw this ability, this past week, with a new focus).

The days and months ahead will likely see a clash, of sorts, between those who favour the present, conventional ways of doing things and those who favour such a blend of knowledge, as is described above. There is, though, a new energy taking root.

Sacred/Profane

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January 13, 2021-

The scene at the United States Capitol building today was, in terms of non-legislative presence, the opposite of what it was a week ago. Law enforcement, backed by a formidable National Guard presence, ensured that no one would interfere with the proceedings in the House of Representatives chamber. Capitol Police officers who may have shown questionable loyalty, last week, were nowhere in sight; their more resolute comrades held the front line- against adversaries who simply did not return.

I have read, and heard, several references to the Capitol as a sacred place, and as a repository of democratic values and practices, in many ways it is that. It is also a place where the most profane of deals have been struck. It was those unseemly affairs, done mostly in secret, which sparked a few (though not many) of the violent acts committed in the Capitol’s halls and chambers, on January 6.

Two wrongs, or a thousand, do not make a right. I approach grand public buildings and monuments, however, with respect, with reverence-even if there have been occasions when those in the buildings have committed acts worthy of reproach. Indeed, even when the initial premise behind the building’s construction has been questionable, I honour the larger context of its relevance to humanity. I am thinking here of The Alamo, the Spanish Missions, Yuma Territorial Prison and Forts McHenry & Sumter. Our grand Federal buildings and monuments, in the nation’s capital, were built largely with the labour of the enslaved. All, however, have elements of the sacred, which energy has served as a protection in the worst of times.

There is no human institution, no human being, who can reasonably claim to have never committed a profane act. Thus, it falls to each of us to find, and encourage, the angels of each other’s better nature-while bearing in mind the fallability that has shown its face, every so often.

The Joy of Underestimation

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January 3, 2021, Mayer,AZ- There are two kinds of stupid: The one is, sadly, unfixable. The other is the kind that the person exhibiting it can fix, and definitely should. Today, I set out to hike a new loop segment of Black Canyon National Recreation Trail. There are three measurements given for this loop: 8.3 miles, 13.2 miles and 15 miles. As I learned, to my eternal chagrin, the last measurement is correct.

Before showing you, dear readers, the delights of this segment, (There are many), let me share my take-aways from today’s adventure: 1. Make sure your phone is COMPLETELY charged, before leaving the car. Yes, I let people know, via Facebook, as to what I was doing, from the crest of one of Copper Mountain’s many satellite ridges. Sarcastically, I referred to the experience as “camping”. More on that in the next post. 2. Make sure there are fresh batteries in your auxiliary flashlight. Just because it worked well, on the most recent night hike, does not mean that is true in perpetuity. 3. Print off a PAPER copy of the trail map. Having AllTrails.com does not amount to much, when the phone dies, as it did when I needed it, towards the end of my hike. 4. Of course, if possible, hike with a buddy. That means ADVANCE PLANNING, which I do-but my tendency is to go it alone, and not want to bother other people. Postitive results, though, also came out of this: 1. Recognizing that any winter hikes need to either be started in the MORNING, or put off until they can be started in the a.m. Fitting in a long hike (more than 5 miles round trip) does not work, when begun only after a regular Zoom call is finished. Trust me, scenery at night, even in winter, is beautiful, especially under clear skies and with the Moon to help light one’s way. Still and all: It’s cold, people who know your whereabouts get worried and as, a local resident of this town observed, not all wild animals are either friendly or shy. He was referring to javelinas- not bears or mountain lions. I have seen and heard bears and mountain lions, on shorter hikes, but they’ve kept their distance-and I report those sightings on my phone, rather quickly.

So, there is the foolishness of complacency, rent asunder by the fact that every hike is different. Now, for the good news: Copper Mountain Loop, done properly, affords some exquisite geological wonders. It is a treasure trove of volcanic debris.

Here are five examples, and Mickey Mouse puts in an appeareance.

View of scattered igneous towers, southwest corner of Copper Mountain Loop
Igneous bench, top of southwest ridge
Igneous tower, top of southwest ridge
Igneous bench and tower, southwest ridge
Igneous benches, northwest ridge
Copper-infused slate-slabs and figurine-shaped rocks, northeast ridge.
Prickly Pear Mickey

As the light that provided these scenes faded, and I lost-then re-found the trail (Thanks to the Moon and my spirit guides, including Penny, I had enough sense to plod on, rather than try and tough it out at one spot. Smidgens of sense are better than none-but for the next hikes, things will change.

Working Towards The Inside

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January 2, 2021, Sedona-

I brought my Bear Drum to Synergy, once more, this evening. This time, there were no men my age and older to complain about the noise. That’s good, because in addition to my hand drum, there were two tube didgeridoos, one coiled didgeridoo, a French horn, three shakers, two acoustic guitars and a violin. There were people playing chess, but they were not the least bit bothered by the cacophony.

I don’t go over here often enough to be widely viewed as an insider, but I am starting to think that means little. I am one of the few people over the age of forty who sits in, but that doesn’t seem to matter much, either. No one is coming here to troll for a significant other. We are just making a space to relax and engage in some meaningful conversations, every so often.

When I spoke bit about plans for later in the year, there were the expected cautions about the chance that the pandemic will still keep us locked away. There was also the caution that some countries don’t allow people my age to stay in hostels. I will need to look into that, of course, but I see that more as the travel industry trying to squeeze money out of people who are seen as well-to-do. I have not had any trouble staying in hostles or pensions, in the past ten years of being a sixty-something.

One of the young men here this evening put it best: “Don’t act like an outsider, and you won’t be treated like one.” That was one of the biggest lessons I had to learn, all the way up into my fifties. It is comforting to take a place on the inside, every so often.

Transformation

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December 27, 2020-

Many in this country envision a sea change about to come, though there are sharp differences, as to the course the change will take. Some, seeing the only saving grace for the nation being a return to traditionally dominant Eurocentric rule, place their hopes on an eleventh hour series of moves, which would reverse the results of last month’s election. Others, wanting to honour last month’s recorded results, still want to hold the victors of record accountable to the nation as a whole, and not cave in to small special-interest groups. A third group is seeking to build on common ground across the perceived chasm between the first two groups. The fourth group is the special-interests, who live for the amassing of power.

For much of this afternoon, I listened to Dr. Todd Smith, a Canadian scholar, speak about “Transformational Habits of the Mind”. Essentially, he distinguished between negative habits, which prevent transformation and positive habits, which bring transformation about.

The first include: Reductionism (All must be based on physical reality, at its lowest denominator); Dichtomizing (Classifying, without purpose, and ‘othering’); Individualism, to excess (The Cult of Me); Relativism (No moral generalities; tolerance, at best, of diversity);and Dogmatism (Polarization, selective information-gathering and hyper-partisanship).

The positive, transformational habits, are listed as : Situating ourselves historically (Seeing the present as worthy of full attention, whilst also aiming that present towards the betterment of the future); Thinking to the end of a process (An extension of the first habit); Loving one another (In the fully agape sense of deeply wanting the best for each person in one’s life, and for all created things); Embracing a humble posture of learning (Starting with realizing how little one really knows, and being open to learning from everyone, and from every experience, no matter how small); Being able to embrace tribulation (Not in the masochistic sense, but in being able to see the silver lining, and to draw strength from any experience, no matter how hard it is while one is enduring it).

I pondered this lecture, for quite a while afterward, recalling four individuals who brought trial to my life, in the past two years. All are gone from my life now, though, as I’ve said before, it would not take much to bring them back-with, I have to say, as much humility on their part as on mine. Each actually left gifts, however inadvertently. From one, I learned to be more present, and to organize my possessions. From the second, I learned patience with unending repetition and looping. The third taught me to exercise more care in my written expression, lest I leave unintended impressions. The fourth showed me how to establish greater security in my electronic affairs. Each left, after indulging self in ridiculing me, or in one case, ridiculing my long-departed wife. Those acts of self-aggrandizement became their own rewards.

So, for me, Dr. Smith’s advice comes as a cautionary message. There is a clear path, of following five practices and stopping myself before following five others. This will certainly be more essential, if the pace of the coming nine years, and beyond, is as fast as my Cosmic Advisor says is likely. It is just sound advice, regardless.

Upholding the Timeless

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December 26, 2020- “Stand, there’s a cross for you to bear, things to go through if you’re going anywhere.”– Sylvester “Sly” Stone

Kwanzaa celebrates what its founder, Maulana Karenga, identified as seven traditional African values, with a day set aside to celebrate each of the values:

  1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as to create and speak for ourselves.
  3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  4. Ujamaa (Cooperative economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  7. Imani (Faith):  To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle. ” -Courtesy of Wikipedia.

One of the topics of discussion at our Christmas gathering, last night, was the underlying fear that people have of ideas that seem counter to American values. If one looks at what is celebrated during Kwanzaa, the festival is all about building up a community-without the taking advantage of the least among us, which, when one looks carefully at both the complaints of conservative small business owners and self-styled “socialists”,is a common concern of both groups.

No one in their right mind wants to be a “useful idiot’, the kind of dupe of which Vladimir Lenin bragged about having fooled, after the Bolshevik Revolution. Cooperative economics, which lends itself to ownership by the workers in an enterprise, rather than by the State, ought to be compatible with American entrepreneurship. I have visited a cafe, owned by a traditional conservative couple, for several years now. Their skills at consulting with their workers and the team that has been built, have established an admirable example of how even the busiest of enterprises may be managed in a climate of equanimity. I have seen the same, in another business, owned by cooperative socialists. This has been the strength of American workers, in the past, and there is no reason for that atmosphere to go away.

It is authoritarianism, regardless of social orientation, that presents the problem for people on both ends of the sociopolitical spectrum. The struggle, referred to as Imani, is primarily a shared experience, with both traditional conservatives and those wishing to alter our economic structure, for the good of the marginalized, wanting to hold back what they see as tyranny.

For both viewpoints, self-determination is a critical goal.

The Process of the Procession

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December 23, 2020-

Most of us are aware, by now, of the initial celestial and spiritual steps towards the establishment of a truly peaceful world, one based on universally-recognized principles, which may be equitably applied across a plethora of situations.

The process of that world’s unfoldment, however, will be both steady-and very slow. In a few days’ time, humanity will, to varying degrees, honour the Birth of Jesus the Christ-on the date arbitrarily chosen, ages ago, for its celebration. We will also be remembering the period of time when Nazi Germany, acting the part of wounded bear, struck back at its democratically-ruled foes, with deadly force.

The interplay of Light and Darkness, coming at one of the two periods of great discrepancy between North and South, in terms of daylight, is a unique reminder of the nature of both solar light and human decency. The Sun cannot light an entire planet all at once. Nearly eight billion people cannot move together in perfect harmony, all at once.

There needs to be a means for those whose portion of the globe is experiencing night, to remain safe and warm. There needs to be a mechanism for enlightening those whose recognition of change is either slower than others’, or both listening to and encouraging those whose mindset is rooted in the philosophies and dictates of the past.

There are people of goodwill, who simply cannot see the necessity for change in the way that mankind approaches the formidable tasks which lie ahead. There are others, similarly benevolent, who cannot see the value of adhering to ANY of the practices that are honoured by time. Only education, in a sincere and equitably applied system, can bridge the gap between these two camps. Only education can stem the human tendency to believe whatever notions and pronouncements come forth and verify even the most inane and fear-based of one’s own beliefs.

The procession will go on, but it may, of necessity, be a slow one.

Little Victories

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December 17, 2020-

Today, I restrung nineteen beads, which had fallen off when the original string broke. I learned to use a beading needle, kept very calm and focused, even when running out of original string, buying another spool, tying the two cords together and summoning my best hand-eye coordination to thread the beading needle and run it through the infinitessimal bead holes. Once again, I have an intact set of Prayer Beads.

As I mentioned yesterday, I completed and mailed off the Beta Version of my life story. It was something put off for at least five years. Seventy is a good place to end the first volume, at least. Maybe, there will be a second one.lse

Not sleeping in is actually a good thing. When asked whether I favour sunrise or sunset, I have to say I enjoy both,

The bottom line is that small things that I get myself to do are of special significance, just because so much has taken me so long to master, even if the task is “easy for everybody else.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is no “everybody else.”.

End of Humble Bragging.

Limits

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November 20, 2020-

I cut off all contact with an online magazine today, after about four months of reading sometimes disingenuous articles and abiding others that are perilously naive in their pronouncements.

Over these many years, some have told me that I have the patience of Job. This is largely true, when I am dealing with children or teenagers, and see that they are not hiding behind cunning or willful deceit. Some people just need what seems like forever to make changes. I know that it was true of me, so to penalize another soul for what I did wrong, seems worse than callow.

This was a day of turning aside from those who persist in deflecting attention from the legal maneuvers being conducted, relative to a recent election, by pointing to supposed crimes committed by someone who can barely get out of his own way. It was a day of leaving an online session which was degenerating into pointless argument. It was a day of me telling myself that I am going to limit my presence on Zoom still further, with only my promised hosted sessions, and a handful of others, keeping me tied to the chair, laptop and neck pillow. One could easily become a permanent resident of The Chair and Screen.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I have no time for the trivial and nitpicky-and even less use for those who are still harping about Barack Obama-or Ronald Reagan, for that matter. There are huge issues to be faced, which can ONLY be faced, and resolved, by a unified front. One would think that COVID-19 would have made that very clear, but no-it may take a whole lot more to bring the bickering fringes to a place of sensibility. When that happens, I’ll be hard at work on solutions-just give me a call, or even a Ping.

As for my critics, I have taken advice, from friend and foe alike, about cybersecurity-adding several passwords, facial recognition and two-step verification. I have some more work to do, in that regard. I am not, however, going to devote any attention to self-absorbed narcissists, nor do I care one iota about what Rudy Giuliani thinks that Hunter Biden did. Both are dysfunctional people, in need of help.

Keep the eyes front and center, people.

Progression

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November 19, 2020- I went home, this morning-to Prescott High School, my last place of fulltime employment. It was only for a couple of hours, covering for a friend who was tending to his family dog’s illness. Those who were my friends and well-wishers, back in earlier times, were glad that I came back. Those who were among ill-wishers were silent; they had no say in the matter, anyway. I genuinely feel that I have a place in that facility.

Facilitating small groups of people, in their self-directed study of the German language, was a pleasant way to spend the morning. I even picked up a few words in the tongue of my maternal ancestors. It made a difference to a few of the starfish on the beach, so to speak.

Afterwards, I ran a couple of papers, which had errantly remained in my possession yesterday, over to Liberty School, then dropped in to check on friends, one of whom is recovering from a deadly disease (not COVID).

During this time, thoughts came through about the progression of my life, and the themes that defined each decade. The 1950s and’60s were formative years. The 1970s and 2000s were years of faltering in the face of challenges and of making a fair number of mistakes. The 1980s and 2010s were times of spiritual growth, of falling down-but getting back up, and treasuring novel experiences. The 1990s were mostly a time of stability, and of finally shedding residual rough edges.

The 2020s are shaping up to be years of staying calm in the storm. I can see that the current pandemic may well be only the tip of the iceberg, and that it is extremely crucial to stay focused on the spiritual solutions to problems-not getting caught up in the tides of the moment. I am looking, at long last, of seeing a time of fruitio, much like the ’90s, but with the difference that now, I genuinely believe in myself.