Niners

2

April 18, 2019-

Age nine found me whimsical,

lost ever in my own thoughts,

save when it came to lessons,

in Mrs. Kimball’s class.

Age nineteen found me lackadaisical,

flitting in and out of other people’s lives,

with no thought as to my effect on them.

Age twenty-nine found me desultory,

often lost in the bottle,

floating along Arizona’s highways,

or the backroads of the  wider West,

yet making a stab at conveying math,

to myself and my students.

Age thirty-nine found me devoted,

to my wife and toddler son.

The fragrance of Jeju,

and the progress of my English-teacher candidates,

filled out my world.

Age forty-nine found me wary,

of any and all politicians,

of a wayward shaman,

whose stated goal was

to bring about my ruin.

Age fifty-nine found me crumbling,

about to lose the most important

person in my life,

to the dis-ease that had

stalked her,

for over fifty years.

Age sixty-nine is seven months off,

yet it may well find me

in a state of flux.

Regardless,

I know my life is aimed

towards wholeness,

towards growth,

ever looking past

mere survival.

 

The Spirit of Connection

7

April 17, 2019-

Have you ever felt drawn to someone,

beyond any physical sense,

but as if  s(he) had been in

your energy field,

forever?

There are, and have been,

in my experiential existence,

dozens of such souls.

It’s easy to confuse,

to conflate,

an intense psychic bond,

with some level

of physical,

or even sexual,

attraction.

I’ve been there.

After all,

Penny and I

began our time together,

knowing we had

seen each other,

in dreams

and in waking visions.

The proof,

for me,

that such bonds

transcend the physical,

is that I have them

with people much younger,

much older,

female and male, alike.

I have encountered

children,

even infants,

who recognized me

from some other realm,

even though we’d

never seen one another,

on this plane.

Clarity:

I don’t believe

our spirits

get recycled,

into physical bodies,

again and again.

I believe

there is a boundless

energy field

and that we connect

somewhere in that field,

of which this physical plane

is but a small part.

I believe there are

souls to whom we

are drawn,

wordlessly,

and there

at least two dozen,

both here, and

in various parts

of the world,

to whom I am so drawn.

These thoughts came into my consciousness, as I woke this morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Z’s, the Alphas and Evolution

6

April 16, 2019-

Yesterday was a bear, for many.  The damage to Notre Dame Cathedral (which I have only seen from outside) and to Al Aqsa Mosque (in which I had the honour of praying with the Imam, in 1982) was serious, but in both cases, not irreparable.

For me, it was a productive day- visiting the new Cuppers Coffee House location, attending a Baha’i study circle and getting in another exercise session were pluses.  A new online acquaintance asked me what I was doing for the day, and my response was “Tending to my personal affairs”, which at the time was weighing on me and not what I wanted to detail, to a relative stranger.  Turns out, the whole process took less than ten minutes, and all’s as well as it can be, for the time being.

I was brought further out of my shyness and awkwardness, at Cuppers, when several young people chose to sit down on either side of me.  Something refreshing about Millennials, and more so about Gen Z people, is their overall forthrightness.  Growing up always questioning my worth as a human being was a real pain.  The younger generations see no reason why anyone should do that, though I’m sure they have their moments of insecurity. Nonetheless, Gen Z’s mantra, “I got you”, obviating any lengthy explanation of one’s feelings or opinions, is actually a treasure.

I see intuition becoming a hard-wired thing.  Yesterday, there was a post about five teenagers who helped an elderly man get up from the sidewalk, where he’d fallen, walking home with him and cleaning his wounds.  Goodness prevails here, and is more common than its opposite.  The media has a label ready for those born since 2010:  Generation Alpha.  I haven’t had much contact with younger kids lately, but judging from the intuition levels and cooperative spirit of my grandnieces and nephews, and online friends’ children, I would say the label, as contrived as it sounds, is actually spot on.  They, with their immediate elders, will be the ones working to reverse a host of problems that foolishness and greed have bestowed on the human race.  All this makes New York’s recently enacted “nonmedical abortionist” law that much more ludicrous, besides being downright menacing.  The world needs its rising generations, even those who have some physical or mental flaws.

So, on we go, and I feel more confidence than at this time last week.

Desiderata- Part II

6

April 12, 2019-

In the last post, I looked at the first half of Max Ehrmann’s 1927 prose- poem, which attained wide popularity in the 1960’s, due to a mass, unattributed distribution of the verses, the result of the author’s having not copyrighted the work.

In this post, the second five lines are the focus.

“Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

I have yet to pretend to like someone, much less to love them.  I have had friendships which turned sour, because one or both of us failed to meet pre-conceived expectations.  I have learned, in very ingrained fashion, to approach friendships more carefully. Cynicism about love, though, is out of the question.  It is as perennial as the grass.

As one in late middle age, I do not act like, or pretend to act like, the youth I once projected.  I still have energy and drive, and I also get arthritic aches, if I sit for too long.  I make regular use  of essential oil supplements, hydromassage and therapeutic exercise, as those are the counsels of age.

I have, with help from skilled financial planners, shielded myself from later distress.  Strength of spirit is there, to help keep distress, and any external threats, at bay.

Being gentle with myself, and recognizing my right to life, has come hard.  I went through a long period of self-loathing, which was mitigated, but not extinguished, by my late, beloved wife.  Only standing up to critics and challengers, including the most recent bunch, has given me the sense that gentleness with self is my due.

I know, finally, that all that is happening, for short-term good or ill, will result in what’s best for the Universe and for mankind.  I have, even recently, seen sham and broken dreams.  Those who jive others, or try to fool themselves, will learn the hard truth sooner or later.

Yes, it is still a beautiful world, and I intend to experience more of it.

Desiderata- Part 1

7

April 11, 2019-

Having woken this morning, in need of reassurance, I found myself looking at a copy of Desiderata, which I first present in its full text, before relating its words to my own state of being.

“GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

By Max Ehrmann © 1927
Original text

This past week, there has been little noise and even less haste, yet I recall being often viewed as too slow and benign, when there was commotion.  There is a lot of peace in my silence, especially when that silence pertains to inside my head, as well as in my surroundings.

I have done better, these past few years, at speaking my truth in a quiet manner-and at listening, even to the most insipid nonsense, without interrupting.  It most likely has to do with being more secure in myself.

There will always be greater and lesser persons than me, and I’ve felt this for a long time. Loud and aggressive people have never like me much, nor have I liked them.  This has always seemed to end up as my undoing, as such people are frequently favoured, at least outwardly, by many in our society.

I’ve enjoyed those achievements of mine that were genuine, and I have had more of them than my critics care to admit.  If I had it to do over, I’d have stayed a counselor, and not given in to the false ambition that brought me down.

I’ve learned to be careful in business, and with my generosity-as yes, the world is full of trickery.  This learning has been, a few times, accomplished through trial and error.  I’ve seen true heroism and practiced it myself, a few times.  The world is full of virtue.

Thus are the thoughts which come to mind, in reading the first half of Max Ehrmann’s inspired verse.  I will continue, with the second five paragraphs, in the next post.

Flex Schedule

4

April 6, 2019-

Insights into the wider implications of my being released from my most recent position seem to be coming to me, usually in the early morning- a time when I had been doubting my effectiveness at times, only to pull myself together-and usually do a credible job, on any given day.

There are always aspects of one’s day-to-day life that are not readily understood.  Why, for example, do crisis moments seem to happen, almost out of nowhere?  Why do some people seem to be keenly interested in one’s shortcomings, when they have no supervisory role of which to speak?  Why do processes come to an abrupt end?

I have chosen to not concern myself with any of that.  I will go back to what has sustained me, in times of trial before:  Working where I am most needed, from day to day.  There are nineteen months until I would, optimally, prefer to retire from education: November, 2020.  I would work through December,  if the need arises.

It also occurs to me that the needs of my Faith, and possibly other needs that have yet to reveal themselves, are the true reason for my newly resumed flexible schedule.  Another, younger person could do what I had been doing with my former charges, from one day to the next and do as well, if not better.  I see that there are already areas, in which having the freedom to determine my own work schedule will do more good than I’d been able to do, in those areas, over the past three years.

Everything happens for a reason, and usually for at least two or three.

A Step at a Time

2

March 31, 2019-

I made it to Planet Fitness, despite a sense of fatigue after a trip to Phoenix and back, having attended a worthwhile, but somewhat tiring, meeting.  I was glad to have not had to drive, with a competent friend at the wheel instead.

Tonight’s workout came after a twenty-minute catnap.  I feel better, having done the 30-minute express, followed by ten minutes on the hydrobed.  Bittersweet March has thus, in the end, affirmed that there is still quite a bit left in this sexagenarian frame.  I get appreciative glances from ladies, the younger among them knowing, as well as I do, that that is as far as it goes.  It feels nice, regardless.

It is now full-on Spring.  Tomorrow, we will see what practical jokes remain to be played.  Later in the month come Chalk-It-Up, Earth Day, Easter and the Twelve Days of Ridvan, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s Declaration of His Mission.  I will get my annual physical at the VA, sometime during the month, and will visit the Grand Canyon, on Good Friday.

April, as a wise colleague once remarked, cannot be the cruelest month.  Sorry, T.S. Eliot.

Another One Out Like a Lamb

2

March 28, 2019-

There is one more work day and one more trading day left in March.  A quarter of my sixty-ninth year will end on Sunday.  March has been roiling, as we have seen, in the areas of weather-based crises and human conflict.  It has also been a time of great joy for me, personally.

As I get ready for the last two months of a fairly successful work year, and begin to ponder what life might be like, after I leave full time employment and devote my time to family and to several months of the year as a traveling writer, there may be a catch.

Having said, a few times, that I am likely to leave Prescott, and Arizona, after nearly thirty years straight and thirty-eight years, all told, in the Grand Canyon State, there is the matter of who might prevail on me to remain here.  Most of my friends here will wish me well, regardless of what path I choose to follow.  There are some, not  counted as friends, who will be glad to see me leave.  One or two special people, who will remain nameless, could yet get me to stick around.  In any case, I know my meanderings would bring me back here, time and again.

This is all conjecture, at present.  I have two very full and rewarding years left, before “retirement”.  The March Lion will bow out, and April will bring pesky standardized testing, the beauty of Ridvan and of Easter, and the Proms.  May will likely see the first 90-degree day for Prescott, and 100-degree day in Metro Phoenix.  The weekends seem to be fully-booked, but I could very well get in a day trip to Grand Canyon, on the Centenary of its National Park.  This one would be to the east side of the Park, and Desert View Tower.  That was my Dad’s favourite spot, when he and Mom visited, in 1985.

Enough meandering, word-wise; I had a busy day and rest is of the essence.  See many of you, tomorrow.

The Fox In The Cave, and The Peacocks Above, Part 2

4

March 15, 2019, Hallim, Jeju-do-

Emerging from Ssanyong-gul had, momentarily, an other-worldly ambiance.

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We were re-entering a place with the sense of Paradise, and one taking the shape of 2/3 of a heart.  This was appropriate, given the theme of this journey.

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Some observers liken this piece, at the entrance to the Stone and Bonsai Garden, to an eagle. To me, it seemed a mighty angel.

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This is so very true.

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A patient and long-suffering mother comforts a squawling child, just shy of the Gift Shop.

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I found myself looking at Dino, from “The Flintstones”.

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This wind-polished basalt presents several smug-looking likenesses, especially on the top front.

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Despite the chill and drizzle of the past several days, the cherry and apple trees are starting to fully bloom.

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So, too, are the camellia bushes.

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The incredible range of the sculptures in the Stone Collection could enchant a visitor for days.

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This piece evokes Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”.

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The superimposed basalt here reminds me of likenesses of Queen Nefirtiti, of ancient Egypt.

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As is common in water parks, koi have a considerable presence, here in Hallim Park

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As in Seong-eup, preserved thatched-roof homes of old Jeju are found here in Hallim.  There seems to be a tighter binding of the thatch, among those homes of the western part of the island.  This style is specific to Hallim, Hyop-jae and Aewol villages.

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Peacocks abound here, especially in the area designated Bird Park.

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Ostriches cap the offerings of Bird Park, and it is fascinating to watch the great birds eat.

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A faux waterfall invites visitors to consider going to Jeju’s authentic cataracts.

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This Peace Monument expresses the hope of the Korean people for eventual unification of the peninsula.

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Thus, we caught a snapshot of Hallim Park, which could easily have occupied a full eight hours.  There was, however, a plane to catch, back to Busan.  My final day in Korea, on this trip, will take in some of the port city’s highlights-around Marine City and Haeundae.

 

Jeju, Part 2: Jeju Stone Park in Fresh Eyes

4

March 13, 2019, Jeju-

My camera’s battery quit, midway through our Jeju Stone Park experience.  Fortunately, my son, Aram, who is also my co-host, had a fresh, new camera on hand. So, without further ado, here are twelve more photos of the park, chosen at random from those he shared with me.

I’d guess this is a frog-spirit, in prayer.

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Perhaps, this is a disconsolate basset hound.

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This could be a model of the lake, at the top of Mt. Halla.

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Here is a geode, turned into a globe.

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Paek Un-cheol had these mounted, back in Tamna Mokseokwon.

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This eerie scene features the Guardian Children, also brought from Mokseokwon.

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“Your turn to curtsy, my turn to bow.”

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Another dystopian scene-perhaps an anti-Stonehenge.

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The Museum, seen from the west.

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This great pile of boulders resembles a tumulus, particularly with the stone entrance way.

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This new institute for the furtherance of Jeju culture has several admirers, eagerly waiting for its 2020 opening.

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My daughter-in-law, a curator at the museum, and I are on our way off the grounds.

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Needless to say, I will be back in a few years, as Korea is certainly part of my extensive travel itinerary, post-retirement.

NEXT: Songsan Ilchulbong, Where the Sun Greets Jeju.