In-Crowds and Outliers

4

November 9, 2017, Prescott-

For most of my life, I’ve not made much distinction between groups of people:  Neighbourhoods, social classes, occupations, educational levels, generations, nationalities.  None of those have kept me from interacting, wandering about, learning what I could from, and about, each and all.

This has led to a rich set of experiences- occasionally with the loneliness that comes from not being too close to any one group.  That aloneness has been altered, somewhat, since I entered the Baha’i Faith, with Penny’s encouragement, in early 1981.  I don’t strictly adhere to socializing only with Baha’is.  That is not in keeping with our Faith’s tenet to “associate with all peoples, in fellowship and harmony”, a trait with which I was born.

It is no surprise, then, that the Universe should be bringing, to our area, the Convergence at Arcosanti.  For three days, a large number of people will gather at the cooperative community, 45 miles northeast of Prescott.  There will be symposia and smaller breakout groups, all manner of people camping, socializing and forming new bonds, across all manner of divides.  There will be, I expect, conservatives as well as liberals; craftsmen as well as scholars; Christians as well as atheists and agnostics; the clear-eyed and the wide-eyed.

I will be there, at least through tomorrow night, and again on Saturday. If it feels right, I will pitch my tent and stay the night.  As a volunteer, I will be able to get a keen sense of  how well the stated mission is being achieved, and establish new bonds of my own. Besides, when Woodstock happened, I was a bumbling Private, in Army Postal School, at Fort Harrison, IN.  This is a more sober, focused variation on the theme of transformational gatherings.  I want to do my part, to help get it right this time.

Why I’ll Go Back Again

12

November 6, 2017, Prescott-

I’ll go back to Viet Nam, about five years from now.

Nothing I  remember is likely to be there.

Yet, I like to see how a nation grows.

I’ll go back to central Maine, in a year, or three.

The people to whom I caused some pain,

are mostly gone away.

Yet, it will be good to make some sort of amends.

I’ll go back to Israel, within the next ten years.

The places I visited, thirty-five years ago,

will be there for centuries to come,

yet, I need to approach them,

with greater reverence.

I’ll go back to Massachusetts,

at least once a year,

until the time comes for

my first angel to take flight.

Yet, I suspect that will be

some years in the future.

I’ll go back to Korea,

sometime in the near future.

Yet, I will be a prodigal son,

both atoning for breaches of manners

and honouring the roots that

my own seed might put down.

I’ll return to the American Southwest,

each time I need to pick myself up.

As  here, the desert and mountains

inform as to the way to renewal.

(Note to the nervous ones:  I’m not moving anywhere, any time soon.)

Beyond “Me, Too”

6

October 17, 2017, Prescott-

Once upon a time, I bought into some, but not all, of the idea that people ought to objectify, idealize, the opposite gender.  This was held true for men and women alike.  The physique was the primary initial attracter, with social skills and hygiene the glue that secured a person’s place, in the eyes of an opposite number.

Mom told me to look for a person of substance.  The intellect was important, and a wide range of interests.  She said that a comely, but shallow, person would not last long in our family- falling away by attrition, not by any malice that would be directed at her. I’ve noticed this has continued, through the four marriages of my siblings and me, the seven marriages of my nieces and nephews, the engagement of my youngest niece and the solid relationship of my son and his lady friend.  Terra Firma has lent herself to our support.

In my post-marital years, there have been a few emotional rough patches.  That comes with the territory.  They have, however, lifted me up and out of the stinky swamp of residual objectification.  By keeping this thing, in the back of my mind, about viewing women in relational terms, I was also objectifying myself.  The current sturm und drang over Hollywood’s sexual predators has had what I consider a bright silver lining.  Women are free to raise the roof, over the long-standing, callous disregard for their total being.  It’s as old as the rise of homo sapiens sapiens, and it’s past time that men, freely and in their own space, create a mindset, a heartset, that truly measures a woman, first and foremost, by her interests, goals and dreams.

I have the privilege, and honour, of working with two dynamic, highly intelligent and personable women, one happily married.  Both are young enough to be my daughters, but no matter.  The success of a team is driven by professional chemistry, with social bonding being of secondary importance.  In that regard, our little team is solid and focused on the well-being, first of our students, then of one another.

I have a further honour : A wealth of friendships, both on and offline.  This drum has been beaten many times before, and I shall not belabour it again.  Suffice it to say, my friendships are neither spurred by physical attraction, nor negated by it.  Each of my friends’ hopes and dreams matter to me, greatly, regardless of any of their personal or physical attributes.  That means dignity comes first.

The antics of celebrity lechers are hitting a brick wall.  May each one of us view ourselves through a lens of accountability and resolve to move further, towards this thing called purity.

There Is Perfection, In A Day

6

October 8, 2017, Prescott-

I am, in a manner of speaking,

taking the day off.

There was breakfast at the Legion,

this morning,

followed by laundry,

a phone conversation about

spiritual study, and

clearing this trusty laptop,

of old downloads.

It’s mid-afternoon

and the air is clear,

so I will, shortly,

head for a local trail

and indulge my legs,

my knees

and my back,

which have had

Planet Fitness,

the back yard,

the school gym and track

and little else,

to engage them,

these past few months.

Then, I will finish

my clearing the back yard

and pamper my back,

at Planet Fitness.

Be back, soon.

 

Harry Dean Stanton and Henry Barnwell

4

September 16, 2017, Prescott-

Yesterday, the Divine called back two very different souls, whose influence on me was indirect, (I never met either man), but extraordinary. Harry Dean Stanton was a party animal, a singer and character actor, par excellence.  Henry Barnwell was a man of the cloth, and a family man, as well as a community bulwark, par excellence.

Harry Dean was someone people saw in movies, for nearly six decades,  and while many couldn’t remember his name, the man was ever familiar.  He had a Festival, as well as an award, named in his honour, by the City of Lexington, Kentucky, near the town where he was born and raised.  Harry Dean was the first winner of the Harry Dean Stanton Award, in October of last year.

He influenced me, by confirming that it is alright to have friends of even the youngest generation, and that it was not disrespectful to be a friend, but not a  worshipper, of one’s elders.  He pointed out that, while having a relationship with someone many years one’s junior was okay, it was even money as to how the romance would end.  He learned this from direct experience.  I’ve found his assessment to be absolutely on point, as well.  Harry Dean’s party-heartiness is not something I chose to continue, past the age of thirty.  It didn’t hurt him much, but I was not born to be a booze hound.  Nonetheless, the cool cat ruled, over much of the Hollywood scene.

Henry Barnwell was a Bishop, a nonstop social activist, and a man committed to breaking the cycle of broken families, especially in the Black community of Phoenix.   He was a child of broken marriage and made sure that he and his devoted wife did not follow suit.  Their four children are lasting beneficiaries of their parents’ insistence on Family Night and regular dinners together.

Phoenix, and all Arizona, are the lasting beneficiaries of Bishop Barnwell’s constancy, in the matters closest to obtaining and maintaining a codified and de facto equality of all people.  He met with the most reactionary public figures, on the same level as with those who agreed with him on civil rights matters.  He would call people whom he wanted to bring together for the public good, and sometimes as early as 5 a.m.  Few, if any, hung up on him.  None were viewed, by Henry, as strangers.

His influence on me was to affirm that reaching out to those with whom one disagreed was the most correct and most natural thing that could happen, in a truly civilized society.  He would never write anyone off, in perpetuity, and that remains my goal.   He would also never write off a desired outcome.  The work continued, despite a struggle with dementia, until Henry breathed his last.

I continue to strive to be as relaxed and nurturing around others as Harry  Dean Dean; as caring and dedicated to helping others, as Reverend Mr.  Henry Barnwell.  May they both be victory-bound!

What Would I Do In Portugal?

4

September 11, 2017, Phoenix-

What would I do, if I went to Portugal?

I’d sit on a hilltop,

in Braga,

and ponder what made

the Bishop of that city,

issue a screed against the Guarani,

who stood between his country

and control of the Rio de la Plata Basin.

I’d visit the Fish Markets,

in Lisboa,

Porto,

and Coimbra,

and listen to the banter

of people who rise early,

and bring Omega 3

to the masses.

I would stand

in the grandeur of Evora,

and reflect on the

temporary nature,

of all save God.

What would I do, if I found myself in Zanzibar?

I would pay my respects

at memorials to those

who freed the people

from servitude.

I would befriend the common folk,

be they Waswahili, Arab or Indian.

I would book passage on a dhow,

from Unguja to Pemba,

spend three days on each island,

saving Stone Town for last.

What would I do, if called to China?

Macao would be first,

because of the School of Nations.

I’d not visit the casinos,

being averse to monetary gambling.

Shanghai- the Bund is being overshadowed,

by those great Chinese structures

and systems,

which Pu Yi envisioned,

when he turned the country over,

to Sun Yat-sen.

I would gladly walk,

from the Great Wall’s fastness,

in Beijng,

to the field of the terracotta warriors,

in X’ian,

if the authorities were inclined

to let such a thing happen.

I would stand at the Potala,

inside the Forbidden City,

and within the Stone Forest,

as my spirit soared,

from the energy

extant in each.

What will I do, in my forest town,

over the next two years?

I will serve those

who only seek

to meet each day,

with wonder and a smile.

I will follow the promptings

of  my Creator,

which are not found,

only in carefully arranged stones,

or  in the pronouncements

of this body of personages

or of that Enlightened Soul.

I will use this time,

to inculcate

the spirit-set

of making each act

a holy act.

I will love.

A SoCal Break, Day 2: Crystal Cove

8

June 13, 2017, Chiriaco Summit, CA- 

Not that much has come easy to me, over the years, largely because I grew up among impatient peers and had to do things quickly, or not at all.  Fortunately, my parents were a tad more sanguine, and gave me the space to master things at my own speed.

I mention this, because camping, while dear to my heart, has certain aspects, like putting up the tent, that have taken awhile to master.  So, it’s been a wonderful affirmation that my tent has gone up, three times in a row, without a hitch.  I know now that the whole discombobulation thing was a contrivance.  Even with the wind, at San Onofre State Beach, my tent stayed up all night, as did the others.

So, the day dawned with a fine view of the ocean, and I felt a strong sense of confidence.

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Coffee, another morning staple, has always come easier.  Billy the Barrista, at Dana Point’s Crank and Grind Coffee House, put together a superb Cranked Up Americano.  As the name suggests, it’ll get any sluggish beast firing on all cylinders.

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My next impulse was to stop and smell the roses, so up to Doris Walker Overlook, I went.  There is a commanding view of Dana Point Harbor, from this quiet redoubt, and I was able to offer my morning prayers in peace.

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A sea of flowers is complemented by a sea of boats and the Pacific, itself.

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After one further stop, at Corona del Mar public Library, to check my correspondence, it was time to head to Crystal Cove State Park, for a  lunch meeting with a long-time friend.   We have a mutual interest in the fortunes of the California coast, and the cottages of Crystal Cove are among our concerns.  Her news was that the California Coastal Commission had granted Crystal Cove’s Preservation Society permission to renovate the north side’s dilapidated structures.  In real terms, this means drawing blueprints, razing the existing structures, and building replicas.  That is certainly far better than putting up more high rises and condos, which would be a travesty here.

Here are some scenes of the north side cottages.

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After a fine lunch and lengthy catch-up conversation, at the Beachcomber, we walked a bit along the south beach, in search of sea shells.  Those we found were embedded in several rocks.

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Among the rocks which line this section of coast, here are two which are aligned perfectly.

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There were many people enjoying the beach, as one would expect, on so fine a day.  A couple had found the perfect perch, atop a rock that resembled a whale’s head.

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After a couple of hours, it was time to say farewell, and I headed south to Aliso Beach, in the southern part of Laguna Beach, and collected a Ball jar of ocean water, for a grieving friend.  Aliso, too, was packed, and as I was gingerly looking for a parking space, a beach ball sailed into the parking lot in front of me, pursued by a boy of about 10 or 11, just as I hit my brakes.  No one was any worse for the wear, but it reminded me of the TV ad, where a little girl, pursuing a soccer ball, runs pell mell in front of a car- whose brakes are shown to be of superior quality.

The drive from Oceanside, through Vista, Fallbrook, Temecula and overland to Palm Desert, was uneventful, save for a couple of crazed drivers doing 80, on a winding road that safely can support people doing 60, if that.  I always manage to pull off and let them go on their intrepid way, though seldom as quickly as they seem to want.  The second one chose to pass a tractor trailer, on a curve, against a double yellow.  I’d say his luck will run out, sooner or later.

Lastly, here is a scene at Cactus City Rest Area, uphill and east of Coachella.  There are no cacti, at Cactus City, but I had a peaceful supper break.

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Back to Arizona I go, if only for a couple of weeks, before family time ensues.

 

 

Knowing When

13

June 8, 2017, Prescott-

My sister’s mother-in-law passed on, this morning, after putting up a good fight, for a good many years. It was just time for her to go on and re-join her husband.  She was one of those souls who walked her own path, without apology.  It was a loving path, but not one that was understood by many people.  I can identify with many elements of that road.

My son and his girlfriend have found themselves on a path, together, that has certainly brought affirmations to his life, and I am sure, to hers.  I’m glad to read of their being focused just on one another, when they are in each other’s presence. As an only child, he has struggled with loneliness, and coped by building hybrid families of peers, when we lived in Phoenix.  He has natural leadership abilities, which of course are more obvious to others, including yours truly, than to himself.  His beautiful friend sees these qualities, I’m certain.  It’s one of the things that gave her the sense of when it was right to walk by his side.

My work situation seems to have becalmed.  I have been assured of a position, come Fall. I am also closer to finishing my yard work- just two small sections remain in the back, and some maintenance work awaits, in the front.  I began gathering things , this afternoon, which can possibly be useful to the Women’s and Family Shelter, and a few things that might be useful to a day center for the homeless.  That work will continue, over the next several days.  It is obvious that it’s time to get rid of all clutter.

Knowing when is the key to a successful outcome.

 

 

Peacefulness Is Back

10

June 7, 2017, Prescott-

Questions of longevity are always in the background, as I think about what one might do, over the next three to five years. I just finished reading a book, Apocalypse, by Dr, Jim Richards, a Christian writer and broadcaster, and will have more to say about said book, a post or two from now.  The thing I wish to mention, here, is Dr. Richards’ trust in God is a true thing of beauty, and I have to say, I share just about all of it.  That gives me something on which to work.

Several things happened today, all of them good.  I pretty much am down to two large and two small sections of brush, to be cleared, after a mild, cool morning served as my incentive to get more done than I had planned.  I got more supportive e-mails from the District, including one I had never expected, from my recent supervisor.  Goes to show, I need to work on my reading of people’s cues.  Anyway, the job situation looks set for the coming year.

Housing is something about which I am still pondering.  I am also getting advice, mostly unsolicited, about my supplemental finances.  The final decisions about both will be made towards the end of this month.

Having spoken at length with Aram, last night, I reiterate as to how proud I am of what he has achieved, and how he is facing continuing challenges.  He has another person to support him in his efforts now, and that, as many of us know, will make all the difference.

The car will get serviced on Friday, I will continue downsizing and yard work, the rest of this week- and the latter part of next,  and in between, run an errand of mercy in southern California, as well as visiting a friend, or three, there.

Rough patches tend not to last long, if one pushes forward with, as Muhammad Ali said, “eyes on the prize”.

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XXXIV: Different

14

May 11, 2017, Prescott-

I have, as most are aware, led a life that has been far from conventional.  My love and I did not play by the rules, as much as we might have, when purchasing our home, in 2003.  I did proudly bring in my mortgage check, for five years, whilst juggling her increasingly unpredictable medical state.  Then came the Madoff scandal, which hit us, indirectly.  Then came the “Great Recession”, bankruptcy and short sale.  Three years later, she was gone.  Son moved on with his life, a testament to our own resiliency, and his.

We, the survivors, are hanging in there.  He’s fine in Busan, South Korea, as far as I can tell.  I am stable in Prescott, as far as I can tell. Money is tight, but no matter.  Those who played by the rules have their struggles, as well.  In the end, we each have what we’ve earned, and little else.

My autism has made me different, from day one.  I approach new situations, new groups of people, from a distance, with some caution.That’s caused issues with others, who jump into newness with both feet, and think a delayed response is a sign of apathy.  It’s caused initial issues with women, who are more in tune with connection.  After reading my heart, much of that has faded away, but it still irks me- that I can’t.quite. be. as forthcoming with new friends, as seems reasonable.

Life is better now, though.  At this age, most of those around me have either been through their own scar-fests (my contemporaries and elders) or are heart-readers (children and teens).  I have one goal, for my own behavioural exchequer:  Feel less inclined to hang back, in new situations.  ACCEPT that most people are naturally inclined to be social, to be accepting, themselves.

It’s okay to be different.