Time Was…

2

September 8, 2017, Prescott-

Time was, when my friends mostly had blond hair, blue eyes and family names like Smith, Wolfe, Doyle, Burnham, Stocker, Hansen, Murphy, Hines. Italians and Greeks moved in, and my new friends had brown hair and eyes, and their families were the Belmontes, Chassis, Chrisoses, Serinos, Spinellis, Geotises and Statutos.

I still dearly love people who need sunblock, when outdoors, whose ethnic legends are based on the tales of the ancient Germans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Celts, Romans, Greeks and Slavs.  It hardly bothers me, that their politics are often rooted in survival and preservation.  They will adapt, survive and grow.  They are ever my siblings.

Time came, when my young adult self met people whose first names were Lutrell, Antonio, Luis, Angel, Devar, Wadous and Jesus.  Their skin was different, but otherwise, they were not.  I was, for the first time in my life, the one who had to win people’s trust.

I have come to dearly love people who relish collards and hamhocks, posole, menudo, hip hop, rhythm and blues, Salsa and mambo.  It started with Dr. King, who grew in my little white boy consciousness and became a source of pain in my  heart, when he was taken from us.  It has continued with some of the most essential people in my life, and some of them are in this nation, without papers.  They are ever my siblings.

Time moved on, and there came people whose mannerisms, dress, world view were entirely different from all who had come into this one’s life, beforehand.  They had names like Thanh, Ty Lanh, Jin-ho, Sook-ja, Tadies, Suhayl, Sohrab, Amal, Javidukt and Mohammad. Some had almond-shaped eyes, which protected them from the incessant blowing dust.  Others had tight curly hair, which guarded their scalp, from the blazing sun.  Still others wore turbans or kaftas, which served the same purpose.

I saw their presence in my life as a capstone, as a completion of my introduction to the full range of humanity.  They are ever my siblings.

Time was, when people my age were consumed with the Red Sox and the Bruins; when gathering around an 12″ television was a major weekend experience; when family trips to Cape Cod, Kingston State Park or Lynn Beach were de rigeur; when my hair length vacillated between “moddish” shoulder-length and buzz cut brevity.  Our battles were fought in VietNam, and on the streets of American cities.  They are ever my siblings.

Time came, when the next generations were consumed with making money; when our vinyl records were replaced by 8-Track tapes, then by compact discs, then by i-Pods. Birthday parties became occasions for gifting guests, as well as honorees.  My hair was like something out of the Middle Ages, then thin, then thinner. The battles of these generations shifted, to the Balkan Peninsula, to Mesoamerica, to collapsing buildings in New York and Arlington, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya.  Equality of colour and gender was seen as largely won.   The right to sexual identity became the cause of the age.  They are ever my younger siblings, my children and, most recently, my grandchildren.

It is a comfort, this inclusion.  I am guarded from those who shut me out, because of all who open the doors of their hearts.

Time is, a most encouraging and gratifying, state of being.

Whither and Whether

2

September 4, 2017, Prescott-

The boy, in “The Alchemist”, is a lot like me.

Searching for his treasure,

in the course of realizing his Personal Legend,

he left home, went far afield,

at the behest of several spirit guides.

He found true love,

won and lost three fortunes,

saw a grandiose sight,

and was told,

by his last tormentor,

where to find his signal fortune.

I left home,

seeking some semblance of peace,

and if a fortune came,

in the process,

so much the better.

I found true love,

a continent away,

and we earned, then lost,

three fortunes.

Unlike the boy’s true love,

mine has passed on,

and become a spirit guide.

I listen carefully,

watch closely,

for the signs that I need.

I have no tormentors,

save my own self,

and then,

he’s not very persistent,

at the negativity game.

There are two kinds

of people in my life:

The friendly and

the indifferent.

The latter still outnumber

the former,

but the first far outweigh

the last.

This year has seen me

go off on a tangent,

as I did, four years ago.

The difference now,

is that I learned a lesson then.

Going towards someone,

with a light, loving spirit,

brings nothing in return,

if there is nothing to be given.

I am in one of my prime safe places,

and will make a brief visit,

in a few days,

to see if another such,

is actually still safe,

or has reverted

to a place of indifference.

 

 

Sometimes The Heart Has A Hole In It

6

August 20, 2017, Prescott- 

NOTE:  I am not shying away from posting about my visits to Harrisonburg and Lexington, VA.  That post will be up, tonight (dated July 22).  Considering one of the people in the post, though, brought to mind the topic below.

So, I have a hole in my heart, right now.

I, who pride myself on letting those I love fly away,

knowing that if they are really meant to be here,

they will return.

If not, they will light elsewhere.

There are, though, people

whose absence,

or lack of communication,

or estrangement,

hurt like Hell.

I guess that’s part of the physical realm,

and my mentors, ever steadfast,

will admonish me to let go.

I will, in short order,

but for now,

I am massaging the soreness.

People who run,

or are in hiding,

or are just silent,

I wish you every measure

of love, dignity and solace.

It will be nice,

if I am in your good graces,

again.

Fly where you will,

and know this roost is being kept fresh.

(This is for all my surrogate daughters,

who have disappeared and my friend,

who sped off, without a word.)

 

Tremors

11

July 9, 2017, Wilmette-

To reiterate, as I am drastically revamping the earlier version of this post:  I will recap the past several, enjoyable days, July 5-8, in my next several posts.

For now:

I was somewhat relieved, and gratified, to actually meet a person who had been rather skittish, with regard to such a handshake.  Turns out, she does seem overbooked.  It is either sink or swim, for most of us, so she is swimming, furiously.

I am still frightened by people who pretend to be friends, and exhort the rest of us, with intense, challenging inspirational rhetoric.  Someone posted online, about Mother Teresa.  I remember her as a rather somber, sad woman, not so comfortable with the adulation of an unskeptical public.  I mention this, because we do tend to move in on people who look shiny, on the surface.  Europeans look at Americans, and are stunned by the glad-handing and false promises that occupy many of us, who are out to get a leg up.  So, motivational speakers and preachers get caught with their pants down, some of them literally so.  That’s the thing that frightens me most:  Not traffic, not thugs, but the duplicitous.

I feel much better, this afternoon, having had an extended conversation with my online friend- far from duplicitous, and the epitome of real.  It could not have ended, any other way.  I look forward to continually learning from her, and other correspondents.  This is about purification, and strengthening- a process that lasts a lifetime.

Some tremors are necessary in life.

 

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XLI: Bubbles

7

June 30, 2017, Prescott- 

This was a day,

four years ago,

when the world fell in on us.

Nineteen men,

most of them young,

fell before Mother Nature.

The shelters,

to which they had fallen back,

served as their sepulchres.

Four years later,

I sit in another shelter,

dealing with the winding down,

of the fire this time.

It will not be anyone’s tomb.

I think, however,

of the bubbles,

in which many of us

take mental refuge.

They become suffocating,

limiting,

and enervating.

I fell into such a bubble,

over the past few days.

Seeing demon mirages,

letting my mind lead

to a few dark corners.

It’s nice to have a pin,

and pop the bubble.

 

Trust

9

June 29, 2017, Prescott-

Today went much better for me.  A smaller shelter, and a more closely-knit crew, made a lot of difference.  Still, when a member of the “inner circle” showed up, at the end of my shift, I just wanted to get out of the building, as soon as possible.

I realize this is rather irrational, but emotions generally are.  There are relatively few people I fully trust- my son,  mother, siblings,  six or seven cousins, about a dozen friends here in the Prescott area and about fifteen other friends in various parts of the country.  I’m sure those numbers would be higher, were I to have more contact with family and friends, than I do at present.

It has nothing to do with my love for people, but rather, my perception of how they really feel about me.   This goes back to childhood, to my wandering nature and to not having really stuck with one core group of friends, growing up.    It also has to do with the somewhat anonymous culture of bigger towns and cities in the West, and of apartment living in general.  My neighbours, on either side, are rather suspicious of me, and say little, beyond a curt “hello”.  I carry on, with a friendly countenance, anyway.

In the end, we leave the world, alone; yet in the meantime, as people in small towns remind the rest of us, time and again, it is a far better idea to work up some trust.  There have been times when I have let others down, and I’ve tried to make amends.  Lord knows, I am working on my own trust issues, but it’s just not easy.

Those are my thoughts, at the end of a long day.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Wheels On Fire

6

May 18, 2017, Prescott-

“The girl doesn’t want to be saved”,

said her lover’s brother to her lover.

That was from a TV show.

A girl who works

to save herself,

tells me, regularly,

“I’ve got this, Mr. B.”

So she does take care of herself,

and is the singular

real success story

of this year’s efforts.

I am close to

a woman who,

many years ago,

was in a car, which

burst into flame.

She survived,

and made a life

for herself,

and raised

a formidable

family.

She’s Nana to

several grandchildren.

The burning car

did not stop her.

My wife suffered

increasingly,

as years passed,

and kept on,

bearing and raising

the only child

she could have.

The wheels of

misfortune,

burned hotter,

yet she rose

higher,

and earned

three advanced degrees,

in her time.

The other women,

I have been honoured

to call friend,

in the years since,

got past the burning car,

and saved themselves.

That’s what makes them.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXX: Density

2

,May 2, 2017, Prescott-

The night sky seems denser than usual.

I’m walking home,

from the second of two meetings

held after work.

This one was spiritual, in tone,

so I was not worn down.

Spirituality can be dense,

also.

Yet, that density is what lifts us

to the light,

and sustains us,

in time of an even denser sorrow.

My heart aches for one

who lost her dearest,

a few days ago.

I have been there,

and felt the aloneness,

even when surrounded by friends.

She feels lost, at times,

this I know,

without ever having met her.

There is a fog,

as thick as pea soup,

that envelops the grieving.

Left behind, it seems,

one inches forward,

in the gloom.

Light breaks through,

however,

because that is the nature

of the Universe.

The density of light

is what sustains us.

We stand with you, Senora.

Let us, the friends you know,

and those you haven’t met,

be your light.