They Also Dream

10

January 20, 2020-

In marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Prescott-an essentially conservative and largely White community, has permitted and conducted a march for social justice, from Prescott College, on the Near West Side, to and around Yavapai County Courthouse and  thence to Prescott United Methodist Church, about midway between the two sites.

Today was the fifth time I participated in this march, and attended its subsequent non-denominational service, hosted jointly by the Methodists, the Unitarian-Universalist congregation, the Ebony Christian Church and Prescott Peace-builders.  The message is that of building harmony and co-operation, among the people of Prescott and Yavapai County.

There is also grave concern, especially among the young people present, for seeing that justice is served to those who are apprehended, whilst crossing our nation’s southern border.  There is a sense among many of the college-, and high school, age people, as well as the more actively liberal senior citizens, around the county, that there needs to be a greater effort towards humanitarian treatment of the undocumented.

I have a lot of empathy for anyone who is suffering.  Some, I can help; others, I defer to those who are better-suited for doing what is needed.  There is also the need, as I see it, to NOT HATE those whose viewpoints on this, and other subjects, is different.  Some people who were present today did not seem to hear the words  spoken by a reader of Dr. King’s words:  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness.  Only light can  do that.  Hatred cannot drive out hatred.  Only love can do that.”

I have spoken with several people who fear the young, the liberals, and above all, those who hail from Mexico and points further south.  Theirs, whether the plaints of long-term residents, who see their way of life eroding, or those of  first-generation immigrants, who came here for the benefits of an orderly society-or to escape authoritarian regimes, is the cry for moving cautiously.  I know of only a few, among them, whose underpinning is that of White Supremacy.

That last is something I vehemently oppose.  There is no such thing as a superior race, or any race at all, for that matter, save the Human Race.  There is a key place in the world, for a sane and intelligent patriotism-which will acknowledge the legitimate rights of people in other nations to love their countries, without pitching for a jingoistic worldview, or for any nation’s hegemony over others.

With all that, I recognize that the vast majority of the world’s people have dreams-of a meaningful life, of being loved and appreciated and of finding a path to peace.  There are serious breakdowns in communication, in the distribution of resources and, for far too many-from the mentally ill to the chronically destitute- in the attainment of self-esteem. These issues will prove to have a variety of solutions, for which the prerequisite is the taking down of the walls of ideology-both on the Right and on the Left.

Those one fears, also have their legitimate dreams.

Anarchy

0

January 17, 2020-

This weekend is a respite from the urgent task I’ve accepted, albeit for probably not much more than the coming week, after all.  I spent the morning catching up on what’s happened here and further afield, over the past  several days.  I also spent an hour at Prescott College, reflecting the engaging presence of people who are on the cusp of adulthood.  I was there to offer a view of ordered life, that departs from the draconian and the decrepit.

When the small group of young women had left, I perused some of the literature which they had brought to the table.  Among the tracts was one on anarchy.  I was raised to think of anarchy as synonymous with chaos, and it can indeed be accompanied by such a state of affairs. Then again, chaos can also accompany too strict a social order, much as over-tightening the threads on a screw, or a fitted pipe, can strip the equipment.

Anarchy, as defined in this tract, eschews chaos.  It is, instead, defined as a state of complete internalization of responsibility for one’s actions. The advocates of such a community, while seemingly naive and idealistic, see a place where there is a total absence of egoism.  This is, of course, straight out of Thomas More’s “Utopia”, and would presage a complete transformation of the human spirit.

Baha’u’llah points out that there is no system, in the phenomenal world, where a need for order is obviated.  Order may be internally imposed, or be the result of external codes.  The goal, in any case, must be justice.

The anarchist will, of course, retort that externally-imposed codes fail to secure justice because, in the end, they serve one group of people over others.  Initially, that is difficult to avoid, with a truly equitable society coming only after a process of inclusivity, that requires a level of fairness to self and others, not seen on a wide social basis, as yet.

I’ve seen a few families, where child-rearing practices and relationships between adults are based on the true equitability and high level of personal responsibility advocated by the authors of this tract on anarchy.  These qualities are goals on which, I believe, anarchists of this school of thought and Baha’is can agree.  It will be a process that will take far longer to establish, however, than the time any of us now alive have left.  The initial steps, though, are well worth taking.  Internal codes of fairness, also known as conscientious mindsets, can be established.

“Be fair to yourself, and others”-Baha’u’llah

Different Home Fronts

0

January 16, 2020-

It was a productive day, for me and my charges, at Peach Springs School.  I will go back, on Tuesday, for at least next week’s instructional days.  Whatever happens, I feel a strong bond with a few students, right out the gate.  The Hualapai remind me, strongly, of the Hopi and Dineh- and there are people in Peach Springs who have, and always will have, my heart.

This Home Base of mine is similar, in that I have bonds with people here, too.  Like me, though, most of them come from somewhere else.  That is the difference between Native American communities and larger, more recently-settled towns and cities.  The friends here are no less precious, but they know the reality of  moving.

I have been scolded, in the past, for being too often on the move.  None of that irritability, strangely, has come from my Native American friends.  They sense that what occurs naturally, organically, is for the best.  Indeed, several of the students spoke fondly, of their own family trips- to Las Vegas, primarily.  It’s the nearest large city, so they do their Mall visits in the area south of the Strip.

This weekend, prior to  my landing the present assignment, I had planned on going up to Valley of Fire, east of the entertainment mecca.  I have an inclination to put that excursion on hold, and head over to a closer hiking destination, on Sunday and Monday.  Some home fires just tend to burn more evenly, when left smoldering for a few days.

Open Letter

6

January 11, 2020-

Dear Son,

I have watched you struggle with so much of life,

including matters which you should not have had to face,

at least not at the age at which life brought them to your doorstep.

I’ve done my level best, most of the time, to help you along.

There were times when that best was not sufficient.

There were the times when we both flailed,

and others, fortunately, came to our aid.

You made a wise choice,

as I did before you,

to seek the structure of the military,

in establishing a sense of priority,

and beginning to sort out a life plan.

That plan led you through the vagaries,

and sometimes disordered process,

of service to our country.

It also led you back to the land of your birth.

You found a home for your heart,

and brought your true love back,

to unite two families.

Now, you are back with our families,

and I trust you are being received well.

I also trust that,

whoever joins our family,

in the years ahead,

will also find a warm welcome,

with no conditions attached.

You have a bright future ahead,

my most precious son.

Choose carefully, and wisely,

never acting out of spite,

malice, or hurt feelings.

It is a tall order,

and you were raised

to stand tall.

I look forward

to many years

of standing wherever

you need me to stand.

You will always be treasured.

Salubrity

2

January 11, 2020-

There was snow on the ground, yesterday.

Now, it is only in the shadows,

with next Friday bringing a chance of more.

The air is fresh today.

Shortly,

free, fair and healthy

will be on the agenda,

as several of us consider

ways to better grow one’s own.

Soup is in the crockpot,

and will be ready

by this evening.

Yesterday evening,

two wildly divergent

forms of music

brought solace to our ears.

This evening,

we may  hear

even more sweet sounds.

There is salubrity,

in the air,

and in my heart.

A Gallery of Slivers

6

January 10, 2020- 

It is more common than some like to admit, to regard oneself as “well-rounded”, worldly, “Renaissance person”, or some other descriptor that accents a wide variety of experiences.
I’ve had many of those types of moments. Yet, in thinking about any given experience, how deep was any of it?  How broad?  Let me consider one example.

About five years ago, I visited Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  The size of that fine institution necessitated choosing one or two galleries.  I selected a Frida Kahlo exhibit, learning a fair amount about that astonishing artist and taking in a few of the adjoining works by Mexican and Central American painters, as well.  The other exhibit I chose featured Japanese and Korean silk calligraphy.  This was a refresher on what I had learned of the medium, whilst visiting Seoul, twenty years earlier.

Neither of these visits was in any way encyclopedic or exhaustive.  Indeed, in a two-hour stay, one is getting only a sliver of knowledge, about any given subject. That’s not a bad thing, in the least.  I would rather have a preliminary experience with a particular subject, or place, than none at all.

The fact, though, that there is vastly more to any particular person, place or thing, than we can fully appreciate, leaves me in awe.  That’s not even getting close to the topic of The Universe, which will always escape our attempts to contain it, in the realm of human consciousness.  Just considering one painting, by any given artist, can take several hours of focused contemplation.  The writer William Least Heat Moon, in “Prairy Erth” (Houghton Mifflin,Boston, 1991), took the sparsely-populated Chase County, Kansas, and delved into every aspect of the modest section of Flint Hills, until it “looms as large as the Universe”.

This is one of the true wonders of this life: No matter how many times one experiences even the most ordinary of things, it is, as another astute observer recently remarked, proof that you can’t have the same experience twice.  Life is a gallery of slivers.

Connectedness

8

January 7, 2020-

Having my little family here

is a perfect occasion

for cementing my own ties

and building a sense of extended family

between son and daughter-in-law

with the Baha’i friends whom he knew

as a youth,

and with other dear friends,

whom he met for the first time,

and she for the second time, today.

It reminds me, that I have

at least one indelible tie here,

regardless of where life takes me.

It reminds me, too, that  there are those

who will ever have my back,

and I, theirs,

for as long as we draw breath,

and beyond.

The Queue

4

January 6, 2020-

I have long been tagged as “an individual”, mostly in an admiring way.  The practice of setting one’s own course is often seen with adoring eyes, from a distance.  It is at the same time true, of many of those who look favourably upon the people who chart their own course, that there is a compelling need to follow the herd.

I have actually, in these later years, especially, found a fair amount of satisfaction in fitting in with society’s reasonable expectations.  I derive pleasure from honouring the queue, the sense that everyone else is just as entitled to respect, kindness and regard for their time, their hopes and dreams as I am.  Being a Bull in The China Shop stopped working for me, even before I met Penny.  Patience, indeed, has provided me with a keen sense of observing what is going on around me-things I’d have missed, in my late teens and twenties.

These thoughts came to mind, as I read Jordan Peterson’s notions on conformity.   It is true that the majority of things that society at large does, in a day, and the way in which these are done, is composed of what works.

Generations, though, will have their own take on matters, and the practice of the quotidian will change, with time.  I have found some of the methods put forth by the rising generations, in facing our day -to- day problems, actually make perfect sense-and so, I have adapted some of these in my own daily life.  I do so, knowing that I am not a Baby Boomer trying to be a copy cat, but a sentient being, gratefully adapting to a rather promising time.  My use of paper and plastics is down, for example, and I am maintaining a keen interest in the more organic foods and medicines that have emerged, over the past decade.

I do not sense the queue will disappear, nor will its underlying sense of order- but it will be accompanied by a stronger sense of inclusivity-not willy-nilly, but sensible, as we recognize a more unified order.

Plan A, 2020

10

January 3, 2020-

I spent several hours, with my daughter-in-law, waiting for Aram’s flight to arrive from Seattle.  We went to Phoenix in the evening, but not late enough to avoid  a stretch of sitting around at the Airport. I need to work on my downtime skills, especially when it involves a “captive audience.”

This is obliquely related to what lies ahead, during what is likely to be an extraordinary year.  Consultation needs to be consistently carried out, in matters great and small.  Towards that end, my best friend recently reminded me of the importance of a yearly plan-mindful that life can upend the best laid plans, at a moment’s notice, but attracting divine support for the plan, anyway.

So, here is what 2020 looks like, as of today.

Commitments and Givens:   Be mindful, yet stay creative. Work whenever possible,  from January-May and September-December.  Keep regular volunteer activities, during the above time frames.  Stay present, and communicate regularly, with all members of my Tribe, especially those closest.  Honour all life, including my own. Celebrate brother’s special birthday, as he sees fit. Celebrate my own special birthday.  Retire in December.

Journeys:  January– Valley of Fire State Park, east of Las Vegas;  February– Indio (Concert) and Colorado River Valley, from Parker to Yuma; April– San Diego and Orange County; June, July & August– North Rim of Grand Canyon, Carson City, Portland, Olympic Peninsula, Vancouver Island, Prince Rupert, Southeast Alaska, Trans-Canada Highway, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Atlantic Canada, New England,  Philadelphia,eastern Midwest and Southeast, Florida (maybe even South FL and a bit of the Bahamas), across the South to Dallas and then back to Prescott;  October– Petrified Forest, Painted Desert and Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

Of course, this is what I am getting from my meditations, NOW.  Much is left to conditions on the ground, at the time things are about to happen.  In any event, this is what I get as my plan, at the start of the year.

Breaking The Ice

4

January 2, 2020-

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In the course of introducing Yunhee to three of Prescott’s lakes, on the last day before her husband, my son, returns to civilian life, we came upon the phenomenon of thin ice, covering the less exposed parts of Granite Basin and Watson Lakes.  In the latter location, few of the area’s signature birds were around, having made the wise choice to visit southern Mexico for a few months.  Instead, the eyes were drawn to an ice dam, which served to slow the flow of water into the Watson Woods Riparian Area, also known as “The Swamp”.

It got me to thinking about the emotional and psychological ice dams, which slow and sometimes stop our interactions.  I have learned that these are purely defense mechanisms- chill vibes, acting like one is busy, and sheer emotional absence.  When one is offended by something, trying to figure out life or is just plain overwhelmed, offering an icy reception to those around self is a sometimes rationalized pattern of behaviour. How well it serves the purpose has to be balanced with what happens next,  or down the road.  Consider that an overabundance of ice can move, glacier-like, towards the shores of a nearby community.  Likewise, so can a glacial pattern of behaviour serve to overwhelm one’s social circle and create a different sort of isolation than that which a person is trying to arrange.

I am fortunate in my Tribe, both  birth family and wider circle.  A few go through bouts of isolation, and they let me know when I’m welcome again.  Most, like anyone else, are following their life plans.  I am doing the same, and have spent the past few days ruminating, and getting messages, as to how this year will best play out.  More on that, in the next post, but essentially I see that those closest to me here, who are like younger siblings, do not need to have me hovering close by-and that they seem to prefer my following my own life plan.  To alter that, on their behalf, short of an emergency, would mean they would, in turn, be altering their life plan for my benefit.

There is more than one kind of ice dam.