Staying On Track

4

December 8, 2019, Scottsdale-

There was a lot on my plate today.

One item was taken off, temporarily,

as a gift expo was postponed,

due to illness.

It was,  mercifully, a short-lived

emergency for a family of friends.

I headed down to Scottsdale, and

attended a Human Rights Day gathering.

This event commemorates the signing

of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, in 1948.

My daughter-in-law arrived, on schedule,

at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Amazed at the size of the place, she nonetheless had

little trouble finding her way to Baggage Claim,

and we were at the hotel,

in short order.

Staying on track

never used to be my strong suit.

Now, however, I feel that

my guides are with me,

and the inner calendar

is well-oiled.

It also helps

to be responsible for family.

 

 

A Bit About Happiness

4

December 4, 2019-

Yesterday, whilst enjoying a bowl of soup and slice of avocado toast, I was amused by a little girl running gingerly back and forth, from her father’s table to a small shelf that had toys and books.  Her happiness flowed outward-and was contagious.

There is some “back and forth”, on sites like Quora and other online places, as to the part that happiness plays in one’s life.  There are those who maintain that happiness is a goal, or rather, THE goal, of a person’s life.  Others say “No, it is triumph over suffering, that is THE goal of this life.”

I maintain that happiness is a baseline, not a goal, of life.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha would ask people “Are you happy?  If you are not happy today, for what day do you wait?”  Think of the dreariest of mornings-perhaps in the dark of winter, or on an early spring day, with cold drizzle and snow remnants, blackened by soot.  Chances are, you won’t know of this state of affairs until you get out of bed.   So, it is the mood that accompanies a person, when she or he awakes and gets up, which sets the tone.  The outward dreariness does not have to define one’s life.

Of course, physical ailments have much to do with the mood of the day, as well.  So do social circumstances.  These, however, do not have to circumvent basic happiness.  I think of my late wife, bedridden for most of her final year in this life.  Even when she was conveying her thoughts about her condition, her decline, there was an air of  contentment, that she felt caring and love coming her way-this, from a base of happiness.

There is a common theme, in many of the world’s Constitutions, that the pursuit of happiness is an inherent right of  every human being.  Happiness, though, is already latent within us.  It is obvious, in the eyes of an infant, or the joyful run of a toddler, that the state of being happy exists from the inside out.  It is much like love-and actually flows out from the love that also is basic to our existence.

Love brought us into being, sustains us through ordeals and is with us, in the end.  Happiness, whether from quotidian events or from grand experiences, is also enduringly present, if one chooses to recognize its presence.

The goal of life?  To me, that is developing one’s strengths, positive attributes, to the greatest of  one’s ability.

A Few Rules for Self

8

November 25, 2019- 

I made it an enjoyable day, by setting a few rules for myself, a few days in advance of turning sixty-nine.  The more one takes care of self, the less likely it is that others can slip into the vacuum and divert attention from what matters.

I found myself trying to help another person,  yesterday afternoon, and only ended up feeling like I was about to tear out what’s left of my hair.  That’s not a direction in which I plan on heading again.

The first rule I have set for myself, therefore, is to limit my time on any one online discourse to twenty minutes, per day, maximum. I will make exceptions for my immediate family.  Time is far better spent, at least in my view, by doing things like walking, tending to my home, cooking and reading.

The second rule is to read at least an hour each day. I got away from that practice, a few years back and found it most rewarding to return to the printed page today.

The third rule is to not procrastinate about doing a task, just because it is novel to me.  Specifically, I have a new water system, involving a complicated piece of equipment.  Fortunately, there is a DVD that is likely to guide me through the process, certainly more than the confusing paper diagram.  I am one of those who doesn’t easily comprehend the tie between a piece of equipment and a wordless diagram.  It’ll get done, though.

It’s been a fine day, though.  I received my new driver’s license, good for another five years, and a document needed by a family member also arrived.  Thanksgiving plans appear set, and the last few days of being 68 look to be spent in fine weather, albeit rather windy weather.

The True Standard

14

November 5, 2019-

Returning to Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules for Life”, #4 states “Compare Your Present Self Only to Your Past Self, not to Anyone Else.”

As social animals, we so often give other human beings far too much credit, for perfection or superiority.  I’ve heard from so many:  “It’s cold and lonely, on the pedestal.”

So, I have made it my business to measure my progress, compared to where I was-six months ago, twenty, thirty or forty years ago.  Then (1970), I hid from my peers.  Now, I am in the world, but not of it.  Then (1977), I found solace in the bottle.  Now, I find peace and tranquility in service, in meditation and in standing up for the downtrodden.  Then (1982), I handed out money on demand.  Now, I contribute reasonably, without caving in to every demanding voice or thrust-out hand. Then (1981), I viewed different people with different lenses. Now, every human being is seen in the light of their character.  Then, (1954-1986), I looked upon myself as essentially unworthy of love, as damaged goods.  Now, I am proud of what I have achieved, no matter what others might view as inadequate.  Then, (until 2010), I saw myself as a frequent victim of “politicians”, “the Elite”, “the Establishment”.  Now, I see those in positions of power as basically living out their own life plan, without seeing myself as a pawn on their chessboard.  Then, (prior to 2012), I had no idea why I behaved atypically, so often.  Now, I know I have a place on the Autism/Asperger’s spectrum-and that’s okay.

The only true standard we have is our own life.

The Sweetness of “Indian Summer”

5

November, 4, 2019, Cottonwood-

When I was a child, “Indian Summer” was the name given to that part of Autumn which featured warm days and cool nights.  It was usually done by Halloween.  This year, October was a mixed bag. Some days were mildly warm; others were a bit nippy.  There was no “Augtober”, at least around here.

November has usually been a guarantor of frost.  So far this month, we’ve had what usually comes earlier.  It’s been a delayed “Indian Summer” and is likely to continue as such, until after Veteran’s Day. No harm, no foul, though.  A major wedding is coming up, in my circle of friends, and besides, I have a distance trail that I’d like to complete by Thanksgiving.

Thus, today being a non-work day, I found and hiked a small, remote segment of Limekiln Trail, between a graded dirt road named for one Bill Grey and the point where I left off last time, at the base of a quartz-laden hill.  This would be a 3-miler, including the rough section of terrain between the road and Sheepshead Canyon’s southern tip.  A local man told me he didn’t think my Hyundai would handle Bill Grey Road, but it is flat and graded.  I had no problems reaching the trailhead.

Here is where I found Limekiln’s spur trail.

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This is what the bulk of the trail featured, as a backdrop.

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I crossed one wash and two mild inclines-nothing too difficult, on this rather bright day.

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The next segment will be 4 miles, each way, from Bill Grey Road to a point along Highway 89-A near Deer Pass Ranch, at Sedona’s southern edge.  That will feature a transition from desert scrub to the promontories that signal one is in Red Rock country.

It can wait until the air is just a tad cooler.   For now, I’ll just enjoy my brisket sandwich and potato salad at Colt Cafe.

 

 

Random Observations, on A Quiet Sunday

6

November 3, 2019-

I see that my recent posts have led quite a few people to delete my site.   All the best, but my writing is, first and foremost, sharing my thoughts, not pandering to yours.  If I have ten followers left, so be it.

People who stand up for themselves very often have to get past the trolls and pundits.  I notice that, in the current presidential campaign.  Anyone who crosses the Establishment is attacked as “weird”.   That will never change their truth.

We had a great day, yesterday, as 65 people observed the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab, at Prescott Senior Center.

I heard a Roman Catholic say, this morning, that all Muslims should be killed.  The Quran mentions Jesus, in a reverent way, countless times-and more often than the New Testament.  Fighting extremism is one thing, blind genocide, quite another.  By the way, anyone interested in mass slaughter, of any population, will have to include me among their victims.  God willing, I’d be standing in front. (Yes, that includes Christians being persecuted by Muslims and Hindus. Wrong is wrong.)

The most important thing facing me, this month, is setting up a safe, comfortable place for my daughter-in-law, who will be here for several weeks in December, while her husband is separated from the Regular Navy.  Happily, he will have six years of Reserve duty, to help them get established in civilian life.

 

 

 

“Like Someone Who Matters”

0

October 29, 2019-

I will be writing two posts today, and tomorrow, as these are the Twin Holy Days, the back-to-back commemorations of the Births of al-Bab (The Gate) and of Baha’u’llah, respectively.  So, my post this afternoon will focus on al-Bab, Who was born 200 years ago, today (reckoned by the Badi (Lunar) Calendar.

First, let’s look at the second rule for living outlined by Jordan Peterson:  “Treat yourself like you are someone who matters.”  Baha’u’llah teaches:  “Be fair to yourself and others.”  Many parents teach their children to put others first.  That’s a good enough way to discourage selfishness, as far as it goes.  One of the wisdoms of having 2-3 children, in a family which can support such numbers, is that it is most likely to train a human being in sharing and altruism.  Those families like that of my birth, who struggled with the stresses inherent in being a family of seven, nonetheless impart a sense of belonging and of being a key part of something far greater than self.  My son, being the only child, was encouraged to make a wide circle of friends, and to regard the closest of them as if they were his siblings.

Thus, a good many of us are taught well, with respect to others.  Where we tend to drop the ball is with how we treat ourselves.  It is therefore best to look at how one wants to be treated by others, and to look at this regularly, with a view towards treating ourselves as we want to be treated by those around us- a corollary, if you will, to the Golden Rule.

In a practical sense, then, partaking of those activities and other things which enhance one’s well-being is essential.  Neither asceticism nor overindulgence result in a healthy self.  Hypercriticism of self is, likewise, as bad as narcissism.  An honest self-accounting, each day, with the follow -up of self-improvement, shows a resolve to regard oneself as “Someone who matters”.

Another Cusp, and A Lobster Tale

6

October 28, 2019-

Today begins  yet another cusp, of another revolution around the Sun.  This coming year is significant, in that it is the last year of my seventh decade.  People  warned me that 68 would be the year that health challenges would surface.   They haven’t.  Maybe because of my personal regimen, and open-mindedness to the suggestions of friends and family,  the overall state of my physical frame has actually been better this year, than last.

When a cusp begins, the month before my birthday, I start to think of goals, and changes I might make.  One change is the way I sit, and for how long.  Someone has suggested using 135 degrees as good posture, when having to sit at length.  A thirty minute limit to any one sitting session has also been suggested-which works everywhere except in a theater or on a long road trip, or flight.  In those cases, every 1-2 hours works better.

Another change is to think even more out of the box than I have been.  This, of course, will give my critics fits, as they already roll their eyes at unconventional things I do and say, but no matter.  I will need to be even more flexible, with regard to my schedule and commitments, over the next several months, than has been the case in the past several years.

Now,  let’s get to the lobsters.  In his work on “Twelve Rules for Life”, the psychologist Jordan Peterson begins by describing the behaviour of lobsters.  The crusty crustaceans have a hierarchy.  There are ten levels, with the alpha lobster having a high level of serotonin, which leads the animal to maintain an erect, well-balanced posture and the low creature in the hierarchy having low serotonin, but a high level of octopamine, which leads it to splay its limbs and slump around- in other words, to be a low-achieving lobster slacker.

The implications for us human animals is fairly clear.  Seratonin is huge, for those of us who want to feel strong and be taken seriously.  If it affects posture, then let’s have more of what the singer John Mayer calls “a serotonin overflow”.  See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81yl_76s7jA.

I would prefer not to depend, though, on a romance, or a respite from daily life, to provide me with the juice that affords me with  respect from self and others. Towards that end, as with other health-related matters, let food be my medicine, as has been said by wise men, from Hippocrates (and probably the ancients who preceded him) to ‘Abdu’l-Baha. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin.  More attention to posture is also in the offing.

I will have more to say about Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules”, over the next several days.

Growing My Vision, Part II

6

October 24, 2019-

I’ve had a fair amount of time to reflect on how life has been, and where it’s going.  An online purveyor of life coaching is claiming I will “stagnate”, if I don’t pay for his coaching method, as opposed to The Law of Attraction and its 11 corollary laws, which he says “fail”.

Well, so far, since I studied and implemented these twelve laws, my life has, for the most part, worked out in a satisfying way.  He sees me as stagnating, because my nest egg is modest, I don’t have one special significant other, and my travel plans don’t involve expensive resorts.  Sound familiar?

I live in a small apartment-true, but it’s comfortable.  I live in a town where I am, for the most part, loved and respected.  I would only move, if it seemed like my family needed me to be closer.  So far, I have seen no indication of that.  I do plan on a more fluid schedule,  even more of being on the move, after next year-but that’s also contingent on whether I am needed by anyone.  Family will always trump journeys of discovery.

There is also the slim possibility of serving at the Baha’i World Centre, in Israel, for 12-18 months, in a couple of years.  It would be strictly dependent on that institution’s needs.

My vision, regardless, will continue to grow.  There are always new things to learn about the nature of the soul, about quantum physics and the vastness of the Universe, both macro and micro.  There are always new friends to make and new things to learn about those in my life at present.

The old dog is up for learning new tricks.  Just don’t ask me to jump out of a plane, unless the thing is going down.

Limekiln Trail

2

October 21, 2019, Cottonwood-

Being a sucker for distance trails which can be hiked easily in segments, I’ve managed to complete the Prescott Circle and Black Canyon National Recreation Trails, over the past five years.  Limekiln Trail, which stretches from Deadhorse Ranch State Park, here in Cottonwood to Red Rock State Park, in Sedona is the latest undertaking.

It is a fifteen-miler, one way.  So, this morning, I headed out on a whim, and parked at the Middle Lagoon, of Deadhorse.  Up past the actual Lime Kiln, a defunct lime quarry, I bid a good day to a couple who were inspecting it from a distance and headed towards my goal of what I thought would be the 6.5 mile post. (I ended up at the 4.5 mark, before heading back,  due to sunset and park closure concerns, but no matter).

Here is a view of the kiln.

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The first 1/2 mile or so, is the only real climb, on this segment of the trail.  I spy a rock face, looking me over, from the rim of Rattlesnake Wash Ravine.

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This granite outcropping resembles a dinosaur rib cage.

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Heart-shaped objects would be abundant, today.

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Here are a couple of views, from the north side of Rattlesnake Wash Ravine.

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Yes, central Arizona has its fall foliage.  These ocotillo are putting on their mini-show.

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Yuccas also send their wishes skyward.

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Limekiln is a very well-marked trail, especially with other Forest Service trails, intersecting, towards the 2-mile mark.

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Around the 4.5 mile mark, Highway 89-A is visible in the distance, and long ago volcanic activity is evident.

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I took a rest break, snacking on beef jerky and baklava, whilst sitting next to this welcoming lichen.

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Igneous rocks, of course, also extend their welcome.

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Carefully-maintained cairns keep the visitor on the right path.

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Lastly, more ocotillos bade me farewell.

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The rest of Limekiln will be hiked in two segments, sometime during the next five weeks:  Mile 9, alongside Highway 89-A to the bench where the heart-shaped lichen is found (Mile 4.5) and Red Rock State Park (Mile 15) to Hwy 89-A.