The Thing of It Is

5

October 17, 2018, Prescott-

Through my life, I have learned things from friends, which have been very useful.  I have learned things from detractors and haters, which have also been very useful.  The most recent hater in my life has cut off all contact, but not before leaving these tips:

  1.  Presence is something in which I need to up my game, almost to the psychic level, if I want to live out the years I am intended to live.
  2.   Messages can be scrambled.  It is the duty of the reader or the hearer to unscramble them, if one’s true intent is to work for peace.
  3. Unintentionally, this person showed how to turn well-meaning people into adversaries, just by refusing to believe that any failure to provide assistance on demand, however small, was not subconsciously planned.

I could say that, in addition to Aspberger’s, I might have a touch of ADD.   I was raised, though, to not offer excuses.  I do need to make presence an up-game focus for the next 14.5 months, so that there are no more “G’s”, or if there are, that I will be less blameworthy, when things go sideways.

My priorities have been Faith, family and work, in that order.  Those who have none of the above, often cannot understand such logic, or to the extent they do understand it, they resent it.   There are more “hurting people” who hurt others, in spite of their original intent, than society wants to acknowledge.

These people on the margins are going to be part of a convergence, an in-gathering, that is coming, and sooner than we like to think.  Their perceptions will be skewed, their tempers will be frayed and many in the communities will want them to go back out on the fringes.  This will prove a serious mistake.   I already see this happening with people living in the national forests, around commercial structures- and in city parks.

Their anger is troublesome.  Their demands are highly vexing.  Their patience with the rest of us is shot.  I have spent a fair amount of time with homeless people, over the past four years.  In two significant cases, individuals looked at me as being very well off.  The two also saw my scattered attention as a severe sign of disrespect.   In a sense, they were right.  Communication between one who relies on a phone and a laptop, is mostly diurnal and holds down a job, with those who have spotty connectivity, are nocturnal and are unemployed or post-employed, is pretty much one-hand-tied-behind-the back.

It has to happen anyway.  Thinking out of the box,  seeing the skills of those on the edges and tapping in to those skills, from the get-go, is the only way the reluctant convergence will work.

Burning the Mask of Overactivity

4

October 142018, Prescott-

No, I did not mean hyperactivity.  My day is fairly well balanced and more focused than some of my recently-made friends have perceived.  I did not mean overextended, though there are days when I have to snip the cord on one activity or another.

Overactivity (my term) means having more options to which to be committed than some feel is healthy.  One person even got an insight that my current level of social involvement amounts to a safety net, a cocoon, if you will, through which I can escape confronting my pain.

In truth, each night and for a good part of my weekends, I am indeed alone with my state of being.  There was a period of time, about three years, when travel eased my pain at losing my wife of 29 years. The first year, 2011, saw me going about with clouded judgement, for about four months.  Some family members were angry with me, for not “getting it together and moving on”.  I believe these people have come to see things differently.  Now, largely being in one community, I am building a sense of personal power.  I am glad to share my energy with groups like the American Legion, Red Cross and Slow Food Prescott-and I do not find it overwhelming, nor do I find it a means of escaping pain.

Those in pain themselves will likely call “bullshit”, but that is their individual mirror.   I have not been shy about opting out of an event or an activity, when I feel the need to rest or when someone’s personal needs arise.   I know where I am inside, emotionally- and physically.

Spiritually, I believe in Baha’u’llah, as the Manifestation of God for this Day.  I believe in the Oneness of Mankind, as do many people of various Faiths-and many of no Faith.  I  believe in the continuity of spiritual revelation.  Some even think they know where mankind is going, after the completion of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation (at least 825 more years). Maybe they are right.  I can only say, it is time now to bring about the end to needless suffering, and if you have ideas that can help in that regard, bring them to the fore!  It is not overactive, hyperactive or even being overwrought, to have a passion that belongs on the table, that needs to be shared and enkindled.

Let us keep an open hand to one another, an open mind to the ideas of others and an even temper, when dealing with each other’s foibles, weaknesses and areas in which one needs to grow.  If that is difficult for someone, let he or she point the area out-preferably in a loving way, leaving the offending party to themselves, and,as Baha’u’llah wrote, “Beseech God to guide them”.  It’s time to burn the masks which limit us.

Burning the Mask of Self-Disdain

6

October 14, 2018, Prescott-

I have revealed much of myself, recently, to a person who, to the best of my intuition, wishes the best for me, albeit through instilling a very high standard of discipline in our interactions.  What this soul doesn’t know is that, for much of my life, the very same words, angry reactions to some deeply ingrained behaviours (which I, admittedly, need to, and have a specific plan to, root out) and putdowns which I hear now, have been used by far less well-meaning people, earlier in my life.

What I have been doing, and what I need to accelerate doing now, is to destroy the self-loathing that also was deeply ingrained on me, by the words and actions of certain people in my youth, and throughout my career in education.

Everyone has their share of bullies, and many turn around and bully others. “Hurting people hurt people”.  It gets us nowhere.  So, part of burning my mask of self-loathing will involve keeping a distance from those who view me as either a threat to their well-being (out of common courtesy) or as beneath their contempt (out of self-preservation). I have learned, through the period of caretaking for Penny and in the years since, that I am a far better person than ANY of my detractors, including those who have recently come into my life, can remotely imagine.  While I will strive to make specific changes in my living space, according to the better of the messages I have been getting, I will not abase myself again, ever.  Life and love go on.

NEXT:  The Mask of Overactivity

 

Burning the Masks-Prologue

8

October 11, 2018, Prescott-

This series of posts will look at my demon masks. Yes, how apropos for the advent of Halloween.  We all tend to wear one mask, or another, and it falls to the truth tellers of the world to either yank those masks off or get the wearers to take them off, themselves.

Penny was a Libra, and as such, one who suffered fools, not at all.  She accepted me, for who I was, because she saw that my heart was dedicated to truth. Yet, there were always the masks, and I did not get to discard all of them, before her passing.

Now, seven years later, I have to confront certain realities, on my own.  I will share some of the things I am finding, as some risk, but also in the hope that my readers might find the process beneficial to yourselves.

NEXT:  The Mask of Obligation

Sponges and Rocks

10

October 2, 2018, Prescott-

Each of us has a wish list.

Each of us has a need list.

There are those who fancy themselves

as being totally ignored,

even if the people supposedly ignoring

have more than just the aggrieved party

on their plates.

I blame the ignored one’s parents,

in part, because mine considered it

their bounden duty to teach us

that there are two kinds of people

in the world:

Some are sponges,

who absorb all the hurt and pain

that comes their way,

until they can take no more.

Then, it all gets squeezed out,

flowing all over everything,

and everyone,

without any direction or purpose.

Some are rocks,

who absorb a measure of that pain and suffering,

but let the rest flow where it may,

usually downhill.

I have been a bit of both,

over the years.

The sponge will say:

“I am here for everyone else.

but no one is ever here for me”,

as the rock looks on,

and says to itself,

“Hello, I am not exactly

going anywhere.”

People tend to want

what they can’t necessarily have,

at the exact moment the want

comes into consciousness,

or on a schedule which

suits them,

but not the person or people

providing the service.

We are all islands in this big stream,

in need of bridges,

rather than the walls,

built of rock or sponge,

that the mind deludes itself

into thinking to be a solution.

Bridges require things like

deferred attention,

setting aside time,

and seeing oneself

as a builder,

not as a victim.

Walls are just fine

with victimhood

and adversary ties.

End of this series of digressions.

Mixed Blessings

15

September 29, 2018, Prescott-

I went to an annual event, this morning, with a full intention of serving, to the best of my ability.  The day started at Hope Fest with my joining the off-loading crew, that helped the vendors  of various merchandise transport their wares from vehicle to booth.  That part always goes fairly well, as there is a highly-motivated group, with no ego attachment to their work.

This year, I agreed to serve much of the day, as personal assistant to the headliner group, which, for propriety’s sake, I will not mention by name.  The group and their manager arrived, around 4:30 pm, and after introductions, I helped them settle in to the Green Room.  I took a seat,  in the meeting area, but far enough apart from the artists that they had no one looking over their shoulders, whilst they were practicing and discussing ideas about their music.

When it comes to  these sorts of things, I am like Las Vegas.  What happens in the room, stays in the room.  At this point in time, I could not and would not tell you the things that were discussed, though there was only honourable and uplifting dialogue.

For whatever reason, however, as soon as two security guards showed up, and announced themselves as the band’s detail, one of the teens who was volunteering with hospitality showed up and said the band manager, who was on the other side of the event grounds, wanted all three of us to get out of the Green Room.  We went outside, but were readmitted by the band members, five minutes later. They apologized to us and said they saw no reason for us to be out of the room.  I wondered, though, how did the manager think to get rid of us, at that particular moment?

The rest of the run-up to their performance went fine.  I got them to select a restaurant and had them write down their selections.  The manager was included, of course, via text.  The performance was lovely, and I introduced a Christian friend to the band members.  They seemed to hit it off well enough. I even got my friend, her sister and nephew prime seats near the stage.  Then, I went and got the group’s dinners and set the table in the Green Room, waiting there with another hospitality crew member. When the band returned, I prepared to go outside, whilst they ate.  That was co-opted, though, by what appeared to be a private meeting, to which I was not invited, among the crew on the sidewalk outside, followed by  a loud, angry message from the manager (still elsewhere) to our crew chief:  “Get that guy out of the Green Room!”  Well, certainly- people are normally given privacy whilst they eat. There was no need for such anger, especially when he was not at the site.  Again, I wonder, were the band members being passive-aggressive and messaging their manager, letting him be an unnecessary heavy?

Needless to say, I left the area and went to help with the breakdown of the stage and artist’s row, as I had promised the event’s founders.   That was accomplished with a much larger crew than in past years.

My takeaway, from the behaviours of both the band and my fellow crew members, is simply to take part in the set-up and breakdown of the next such event, and leave the day to the small, self-contained group, which doesn’t seem to like newcomers.  That is, if I am even invited to participate, next year.

Opposite, No Attraction

20

September 26, 2018, Prescott-

The opposite of love is indifference.

Hate brings energy that can,

in turn, bring changes that

generate genuine love.

That is, if the fire of hatred

does not completely immolate

the object of its wrath.

Indifference stifles all in its path,

not with fire,

but with mold,

black or green,

and rapacious.

 

 

Embraces

9

September 22, 2018, Prescott-

This is probably the latest I’ve been up, in many weeks.  Yet, spending much of the day reading friends’ posts reminds me to get something of my own out.

I was not much for physical contact, when I was a child.  Teenage brought a sense that girls were to be touched, but only if they themselves wanted.  I was all over the place, in my twenties, but still rarely gave an unwanted hug- and backed way off when the person was resistant.  Years of a good marriage largely erased the discomfort with physical contact that was so much a part of living with Asperger’s.

With Penny gone, my tendency has been more to hug, when a person seems to need or want a hug.  That also comes naturally, working with children- and I have never adopted the “no contact” dictum that was the overreaction of the Politically Correct, to incidents of molestation.  It was up to the child, whether a hug was in order, and up to me, the adult, to honour reasonable rules of decorum- above all, that physical contact be in the presence of other adults, and that I never be alone with a child, with the door closed.

This is pretty much how it is between adults as well.  I have no significant other, yet have plenty of fine friends, of, as I have said several times, of all sorts.  What I embrace, above all, is the notion of dignity and worth, to be given all whose paths I cross.

Pain

19

September 18, 2018, Cave Creek-

A friend called me, a while back.  The message was that someone had been harassing her, leading to severe anxiety. We spoke for a time and I made the offer of a window of opportunity to put a good distance between her and the tormentor.   Tomorrow could be the first step in that direction.

I was raised to take action, when confronted with pain in my own life- be it physical or emotional.  Several times, I’ve had to pull myself together, and do the uncomfortable or the inconvenient, in resolving hard issues. Hey, we all have.  Life has never been mistaken, by anyone but the foolish, for a sweet bowl of cherries.

So, a week ago, yesterday, I had another tooth pulled, not because it was causing me pain, but because it was seriously infected and heart problems run in my family, on both sides. Dental issues are directly connected to heart issues. My own heart is physically in good shape, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Arrangements are being made for a replacement denture, which led me down to the office of my dentist of the past seventeen years, this evening, after work.  Then came the follow-up call to my above-mentioned friend.

Candice Bergen said, many years ago:  “Men are such jerks about beautiful women”.  To be sure, I have had a few periods of jerk-hood, and came to the conclusion that, if I didn’t have so many doubts about myself and my own worth, any obsession with beauty would not take hold. The physical frame is a fine gift of the Creator to mankind, but it is only part of the package.  Were that not so, then plain or homely people with exquisite spirit, personality and skill sets would never have a shot at much.  Were it not the case, ravishingly attractive people would never suffer pain, and we probably all know of at least one person who has suffered, either despite, or because of her/his comeliness.

My physically attractive, suffering friend (who, we both agree, is like a sibling, and no more than that) is enduring things that I, and many others in my circle, do not have to tolerate.  It happens that way, sometimes.  Life is an equal opportunity provider, of both good and ill.

I thought further of this, whilst in a small burger joint, Big Earl’s, in this, my favourite Phoenix-area town.  The very pretty teen girl who was serving me whacked her elbow, whilst loading a bucket of ice, and my paternal angst winced a bit.  She shook it off and kept on with her work.

So must we all.  I will do my darnedest to help sister-friend get through her current nightmare.  She will, eventually, find her own light.

 

Tangential, Part 1

15

September 8, 2018, Prescott- 

This morning, on a visit to Prescott Farmers Market, I spent a few minutes sitting on a bench, near where the  guest musician was playing an acoustic version of Outkast’s “Hey Ya”, accenting the powerful words of the sometime party tune.

I began to get caught up in the presence of his delightful little family, noting his daughter’s interaction with a another little girl, about her age.  As I smiled at a nearby vendor’s waving and goofing around with the singer’s infant son, the mother looked at me quizzically and I gave her the  proper explanation, as to what was happening, before excusing myself and going off to finish my purchases for the day.

I was challenged, earlier this morning, as to having been short and to the point, in my communications of late.  Simply put, I felt a lot of pressure this week, especially at work, with hard things happening to my team members, and a difficult person inserting herself into the classroom mix.  I have no problems, in particular, with the person who sent the message this morning.  We each are highly intuitive, but intuition, on a human level, is not foolproof.  One’s own fears and challenges get mixed in, invariably.  I take my own intuition with several grains of salt, and end up doing the same with other people’s observations, regarding my life.

Prescott Farmers Market, and the local Planet Fitness franchise, are places I frequent.  I notice that, with one or two exceptions, the management team in each of these places tend to keep me (though not their favoured few) at arm’s length, most likely for good reason-but what that reason has to do with me, specifically, I’m not sure.   Conversely, having the managers of a given establishment be my well-wishers is not why I avail myself of its services.  The Market does have several stalls, where I am on good terms with the vendors and can chat for several minutes, without the emotional door slamming in my face. The gym provides me with a reliable set of full-body machines and the incomparable Hydrobed, a next-gen version of the Ceragem massage bed that we had, in the Phoenix house.  Besides, the manager’s front desk assistants are uniformly more personable, and actually seem happy to see people come in, who are less than buff.

This leads me, again, to the whole culture of anonymity that seems to pervade the urban American West.  This puzzles me.  No one really seems to enjoy living as if under siege, but each of us does it, to some degree.  I have made some headway, walking to and from downtown and Yavapai College, and joining in more group activities, especially in the past two years.

I am approaching a crossroads, of sorts, which I had hoped would not be imminent until at least Autumn, 2020.  Still very much hoping to complete this academic year in one piece, the difficult academic specialist aside, I go to work each day and give it my best.  Still hoping to be of value to my Baha’i and other communities, I am a regular at scheduled and spontaneous events.  Still hoping to keep my head above water, I listen, carefully, to the voices of both support and of criticism, to glean the necessary lessons.

Part 2:  Affirmations and expectations