Loving the Balance

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June 18, 2022, Kingston, ON- I found myself here, near the shore of Lake Ontario, an underrated gem of a Great Lake, which I will visit briefly tomorrow, before driving to Montreal. It was a choice: Visit Kingston and get some down time tonight or plow on to Ottawa, have maybe three hours max in the capital city and “enjoy” what would eventually feel like a hamster wheel.

There is always a short-term financial balance to keep, and I at least have that down. I spent some time in London, this morning and early afternoon, in both business and sending out positive energy. Changing currency is a chore for many. I consider it an act of respect for the host country, for as long as we humans need to have different currency in each nation-or region (Euro Zone).

Another “business” action is joining online Baha’i gatherings. If I can do this, even from a distant location, and while maintaining silence, as is necessary in a public space, such as a coffee shop. then the energy shared across the space between locations is worth it.

Whenever I am off on one of these quests, suggestions come from well-intending friends and family. Invariably, unless the hint is close to my itinerary, either distance-wise or time-wise, I file it in the “later” sleeve. Ottawa will wait until another time; as will two or three days in Toronto, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and Quebec City (both of which I have visited), the Gaspe, Prince Edward Island (been there, also), the southern part of the Avalon Peninsula on Newfoundland, and St. Pierre & Miquelon, France’s last bit of “mainland” North America.

Time and spiritual energy determine the balance, and it is a many-splendoured thing.

Here are a few scenes from London’s marvelous Covent Garden Market- worthy of a place alongside Boston’s Faneuil Hall/Durgin Park, Seattle’s Pike Place and Chicago’s Navy Pier. I am sure many of you could add a dozen others to this list. Remember, I am referring here to London, Ontario. The Market was recommended to me by a bookseller, whose shop, City Lights. is across the street. He also suggested Saga Coffee House, just west of his shop. Both recommendations are spot on-as is the book store.

As I was working on my laptop, a little girl pointed out the lanterns and flowers, which she found “astonishing”. Yes, they certainly are!

Anna Turkiewicz is a Polish emigre, who runs this excellent old style delicatessen. She seemed a bit worn down, and shortly after I took my lunch order to the table, she took a break for herself. It is a hard row to hoe, this food business. Ontario apparently also has a coin shortage, and supply chain issues, much like on the American side of the border. I did what i could to be supportive.

The grounds are given some thought, by the City, as well. Here is a decorated lamp post.

There is much joy in keeping a balance.

Heat Haze

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June 11, 2022- As I walked around the Farmers’ Market today, I was struck by the fact that people I’ve known for eleven years seemed oddly disconnected. A friend who was with it figured the others were just struggling with the heat, which always seems worse, just before the monsoons hit. As a nearby community had rain in buckets, yesterday, this makes a fair amount of sense.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest of days, then it is forecast that the area will see a slight decrease in temperature. I would not be surprised if I drive into rain, tomorrow afternoon, on the first leg of a journey east and north. There are many who either have, or are, embarking on journeys of this type. One said he is doing this to stick it to the “Big Dogs”, who he sees as simultaneously jacking up gas prices and selling off large amounts of stock. That seems a bit simplistic, but nothing surprises me anymore.

I do agree with him, that we need not ask permission of anyone, before following our inner promptings. At the same time, one has to keep an eye on reality and be happy with as much of those inner promptings as may be successfully realized. There is always a reason why some goals must be left for a later date. For example, my original plan to visit Newfoundland was made in 2013, but other concerns took precedence, that summer. I had a plan to try again to visit that island, in 2020, and we all know what got in everyone’s way then. This year seems like the right time, and I will still be happy with wherever I manage to get.

The Universe and spirit guides point us in a certain direction, but it is our own purity of motive that will get us there and back. I pray to not be misdirected by the haze of a hot temper or foggy logic.

“Why Are You Here?”

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June 9, 2022- The security official was asking this question, that was legitimate to his job, as I entered the Border Station, in Sidney, BC, seven years ago. He added an odd second question to the “purpose of travel” query: “Why would someone from Arizona be on the West Coast?” My answer to both was “Visiting Victoria”, which was indeed the purpose of my short stay-as there was a First Nations Festival that day, and I was prompted to go there for that.

This comes to mind because, in setting the course of my upcoming cross-continental journey, I have been asked “Why are you coming HERE?”, with regard to a couple of places. Truth be known, I can’t always articulate, in tangible terms, why I follow spirit prompts. Often, it is not clear even to me, until I arrive in a place. I understand that not everyone is that in touch with inner vision or spirit guides- so many dear souls have all they can do to make sense of their physical reality. No one is under any obligation to greet me, and I think no less of them if they don’t-it just means that the time is not right.

Conversely, though, there is enough restriction put on us, for various reasons. We need not place additional shackles on one another. So, I will only ask, if I call on people and the time is not right-leave it at that and do what you need to do for self and loved ones. I will do better at sharing my inner promptings, than perhaps has been done in the past, so maybe these journeys will be better understood, but I will not ignore them.

With that, I will go down to Phoenix, where it is hotter than blazes, this afternoon, to visit Penny’s graveside and join a friend at a coffee house endeavour he is making. Those are my spirit promptings for the day.

The Walls We Build

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June 1, 2022- It took a bit of processing, as I joined a meeting and was greeted with: “Someone else (meaning me) is on the space now. I don’t want to keep talking about this.” I had met one of the people in person, a few days ago, and found her to be the opposite of the individual who was now bemoaning my presence and forgotten my name. As it transpired, the topic of their conversation was nothing confidential, though I kept to the sidelines, out of courtesy.

A few hours ago, I read a post by another friend, talking about Avoidant Personality Disorder. It rang very true to who I was, as recently as 1982. Back then, it didn’t take much for me to leave a gathering, or sit silently, alone in the presence of a crowd, having made the assumption that I was not altogether welcome.

Too much has happened, during the time of my marriage and in the years since Penny’s death, for such an attitude to hold much cachet. Yes, there are times, like this evening, when some people would rather I not be present, but that happens to just about everyone, at one point or another.

There is far more to be lost, through shutting others out, building imaginary walls or by running from those who we see as hostile or overly critical, than there is by standing our ground and making an extra effort to connect with others. I stayed on the call, until it was time for me to leave and join another one. It has to be so. I can’t go back to running and hiding.

Progress

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May 31, 2022- After six months of diligent care for my body’s largest organ, the dermatologist gave me a clean bill of health. Safe sun screen, head covering and being sensible about time in the sun, including while driving a car, has apparently made a fair degree of difference.

I got my act together and greatly tidied up the kitchen and dining area. Three other areas remain, before my next journey begins in mid-June. Having less compunction about getting rid of stuff makes a great deal of difference, in this task. So, the bedroom, closet and storage unit remain. Many garden tools will go to Dharma Farm, this weekend, and there are several items that can be donated to the Disabled American Veterans.

I am opening up with suggestions to people who pose seemingly intractable problems-after listening to them for a time, instead of jumping right in with solutions. The latter approach just gives the plaintiff the sense that they are being brushed off. In the long run, there are no really intractable problems, but there are plenty which are very, very hard to resolve.

The other thing, which occurred to me this morning, during the running of an errand, is that my fretting over going to one clerk’s window, instead of another, is a bit on the egocentric side. This was a thing, for quite a few years-and it finally came into my consciousness that the only one who cared about such things, was me. Silly stuff like that was much more front and center, not that many years ago. I am learning to let go.

May June only hasten this sort of progress.

Not So Hard to Handle

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May 26, 2022- The truth should not be so hard to handle. There are times when it is not exciting, when it doesn’t fit the narrative that’s in our heads and when it challenges us to rethink our worldviews.

It should not be so hard to comprehend that a living being in the womb, is not a creature whose existence depends on being convenient to others. How much more does that extend to a child who has come into being, breathing on on his/her own! How much more does that apply to a woman who has to make the most difficult decision of her life, without necessarily enjoying the support of those around her! How much more does that apply to a young man who is told, time and again, that he is a worthless piece of crap-but he can still buy a weapon and prove himself that way! It should not be hard to handle the truth, that every being put on this Earth-or sent out into the Universe, is here for a valid reason.

A United States Senator today observed that there is a lack of spirituality behind much of what is going on around us. He is not wrong, in that respect. There can, and must, be a balance between loving our Creator and valuing all that has been given us to enjoy, to treasure. Indeed, it is because the Creator gave us raw materials, intelligence, health and the means to live, in this training ground of the human spirit, that we are free to place value on all that is in, and of, this world-in a balanced way. We are free to value the people around us. We are free to value what has been incorporated in ourselves.

I cannot look upon the faces of those departed on May 24, 2022, without aching for the strength that shines out of their faces, any more than I can look upon the faces of everyone departed on December 14, 2012, February 14, 2018, April 20, 1999 and every.other.date that is etched in infamy. That slaughter, that waste, is what is hard to handle.

It all happens because too many cannot handle the truth.

Admonitions

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May 23, 2022- “No, you may NOT spray that girl with the fire extinguisher!”, I told the male student who cradled the device in his hands, whilst looking goofily at his female classmate. He dutifully put the tool back on its hook, and the two of them bantered a bit more, but there was no harm done.

That was the only hiccup, on this penultimate day of the academic year, in the small community north of here. Nonetheless, one never knows when it will fall to a voice of reason to take charge-even among adults, as it happens. Lord knows, there have been times when I have needed an admonition, or two, in moments of heedlessness, fatigue or the residual effects of mourning.

I am certainly grateful for those who have helped me stay on an even course. The admonition given with a steady tone of voice, and an air of confidence, certainly is more effective than one given with a shrill or frantic, screechy delivery. The first shows forethought and love; the second, insecurity and mistrust. I hope to continue to maintain steadiness and self-confidence, both of which came hard.

May all your steps be firm, as well.

Division Street, and The Bonsai That Unite

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May 16, 2022, San Clemente- The drunken man, professing White Supremacy, yelled at me to “Get lost”, as I walked along El Camino Real, in this Orange County beach town. I guess the t-shirt I’m wearing, with its Baha’i logo, set him off. I kept walking and he drove off.
Baha’u’llah does state that “Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education, however, hath deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess.”- Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259. Nowhere, of course, does He limit this bounty to any particular group of people.

Last night, at FOUND Hotel, in San Diego’s Little Italy, there were a few folks who were acting mighty lost, while saying they wished others-particularly the homeless who wanted to be let in, would get lost. No hostel, or residential hotel, is equipped to handle random homeless people wandering in off the streets. There has been progress made in sheltering, in many cities, but the task is looking Sisyphean. The number of units and condominia, catering to the uberwealthy are increasing at a rate outpacing those that provide for people in lower income brackets. Those who are experiencing homelessness, particularly in communities where housing costs are exorbitant-almost to an unconscionable level, are also finding their numbers increasing. Division Street, the nominal and actual social divider, of which Studs Terkel wrote in 1967, has become a metaphor for the country as a whole. Some hard decisions, regarding the accumulation of wealth, at the expense of a great many people, will need to be made in the not-too-distant future. Everyone will need to be at the table for this one.

I needed to change the channel in my head, after seeing so many people encamped in downtown San Diego, along Pacific Coast Highway and near Mission Beach. Revisiting Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden set the right tone. My focus was on the collection of bonsai, now at 18 and looking in on the koi, who were small when I was last there, in 2015.

Here are a few scenes from the Garden. The koi in the pond nearest the entrance have tripled in size, these past seven years.

Three types of bonsai: Pine, flowering and unflowered leafy are on display, in the Garden’s Bonsai Center.

My rejuvenation complete, it was an easy trip northward to Orange County, stopping briefly to complete some business at San Diego Baha’i Center, taking a detour to La Jolla’s sandy beach and another to La Cristianita Historic Site, in Camp Pendleton, which commemorates the first baptism in Alta California.

Tonight, I am comfortably at House of Trestles Hostel, amongst surfers and other lovers of the ocean. Here, everyone feels at home, even the dachshund-chihuahua mix.

Transitions

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May 9, 2022- The child kicked and screamed, at the moment that transport from school to home arrived. He had to be restrained, and carried bodily to the vehicle, all the while saying that school was his home now. The vehicle left, with him and his older sister in it, after the ten minute transition.

This raised more than a few red flags in my mind. Why would anyone, even a special needs child, so resist going home? There was one other occasion when a student refused to get on the bus, but that one looked at us, mischievously, and said “As long as I stay off the bus, YOU guys can’t leave, either!” His aunt came and got him, so it meant an extra thirty minutes of time on campus. This felt different, and will bear monitoring, when I go back there, later this week.

People tend to resist change, quite often. I have to wonder, though. What is so great about a particular situation, way of thinking or practice that ALL other possibilities are treated as “off the table”? I do have an understanding of inertia. To some extent, getting up in the morning requires a fair amount of resolve-especially during the months when it’s dark still, well into the morning. The understanding, that it’s not really good for my health to stay in bed too long, has helped-as well as the fact that I am in a warm home, and fairly comfortable.

Bigger changes, though, still have that aura of adventure, so I guess I am a bit of an outlier, in both enjoying routine activities while they run and being glad for even the most seismic of twists and turns as they happen. Maybe it’s a matter of seeing both as the means to personal growth.

The Tumble

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May 5, 2022- Hiking Buddy and I observed Cinco de Mayo by dining at Prescott’s sole Indian restaurant: Tai Mahal. The place has a good-sized dining room and a fair amount of South Asian decor. Its dishes trend towards North Indian, which is fine, as I favour dishes like tandoori and tikka masala. I also like vindaloo, from the west central city of Goa, so maybe next time…. We were among the first diners this evening, and for a while, it looked like the stampede to Mexican eateries, on this unofficial north of the border “holiday”, would impact Taj’s evening. Not so, though, as by the time we were ready to leave, the dining room was packed. Such is the allure of a quality establishment with a menu that is one-of-a-kind for the area.

Cinco de Mayo is a distant mirror of Ukraine’s struggle against a much larger foe. On May 5, 1862, the Mexican Army defeated the French Imperial Army, at Puebla. After some months, the French reoccupied Puebla and went on to occupy Ciudad Mexico. This only lasted three years, however, as once the American Civil War ended, President Andrew Johnson sent materiel aid to Mexico, and the resurgent Mexicans drove the French out. The French puppet Emperor, an Austrian named Maximilian, and his Mexican turncoat supporters, were captured and executed. We have no way of knowing how the present conflict will end, but esprit de corps goes a very long way towards building momentum. The mighty can tumble, as the United States itself has found.

After any tumble, however, comes humility and rebuilding. We’ve seen that with the spikes and crashes in the financial markets, in recent days. It’s the nature of wealth, however, to rebound and grow again-and if no artificial blocks come about, more people are brought into the aura of prosperity.

The same is true of peace. It will come back and be rebuilt, very likely on a more solid footing. All falls are stopped by a solid barrier, at some point.