Open-ended

6

June 11, 2019-

Back at Home Base, for a couple of days.  I find peace has returned to some parts of my life which had been in upheaval, just before I went up to Bellemont.  A friend who was mildly irritated with me has reached out and it’s all good.  A person who was livid at my very presence, last summer, was gracious and helpful, this evening.  Time does heal wounds, without necessarily having to wound heels.

I had a nice conversation with my next-to-youngest brother, whose birthday is today.  He’s one of the stars in my life- a man who has overcome serious odds to successfully lead a team of Research & Development pros, for a small Boston-area company.

My hometown, so far, is the only solid East Coast venue on my upcoming journey, and it is by far the most important-Mom is there and a couple of childhood friends have been hurting.  In between, there are several friends and family, across the Southwest and South, and a few feelers have gone out-so we’ll see how it plays out.  This year, I’m told, it’s especially crucial to be open-ended and let the road lead.

There will be time, after my New England visit, for Chicago, the Great Plains, Rockies and Great Basin, en route to the other solid venue of the summer, a dear little girl’s stage debut.   The road will lead.

This will be, as things stand now, my last coast-to-coast road trip wholly within the continental U.S.- save a possible run out to Florida, over the Christmas-New Year’s break.  Summer, 2020 will focus on the Pacific Northwest, southeast Alaska, Trans-Canada and back across the northern tier of states.  After that comes retirement, and time with my little family and with friends in other parts of the world.  These, too, are open-ended and the road will lead.

Why We Fight

9

June 5, 2019-

I came back down to Prescott, to support a gathering of friends, being one of the few occasions I am allowing myself to be here, the next two months.  There is, simply put, much I feel I have to do elsewhere-starting with the Junior Youth (Middle-school age) gathering, this weekend, in which I will assist.  Understand that I am taking full ownership of my choices.

The title of the post came about largely in reaction to this week’s slow news item about an ongoing “high level” feud, which I will not dignify by mentioning its specifics.  I am not much of a fighter, for fighting’s sake.  Threats to children and other vulnerable beings are another matter.

I see, though, that there is fair amount of quarreling that takes place.  Fear seems to be the main driver- the old “fight or flight” choice is usually offered. Some fear not being taken seriously.  Others fear the loss of their position or dignity.  Still others fear even the loss of all they value.  I am not cowed by those who act out of fear; neither will I necessarily accede to their demands.  There are ways, through consultation, to remove fear-based decision making.

Ego is another impetus.  If one is given to think of self as some sort of master, then scolding, berating or being otherwise forceful with those around self is the order of the day.  I know of one person,no longer in my life, who has nonetheless recently tried to re-enter, with psychic threats of  otherwise making my life in Prescott so miserable, that I will flee.  None of it will work.  Baha’u’llah once is said to have written that, unless one is so firm in faith, that not even the presence of all one’s enemies, with drawn swords, would cause vacillation, then the soul can not truly call self a true believer.  I accept that, even without knowing the exact source.  Besides, Penny and the other angels in my life are around to see me safely along.

I also accept that my friends and family will only value me, as much as I value them.  The Universe operates on this principle.  Were it not so, the human race would be even more hamstrung by imbalance than we already are.

I want, by patience and remaining present, to eliminate as many of the conflicts in my life as is humanly possible.  Be back when I can, over the next few limited-Internet days.

 

Encumbrances

0

March 28, 2019-

I woke this morning, to see a couple of challenges awaited.  Both involved technology, so I steeled myself and said, “This is not going to keep me down.”  Experimenting a bit with what little I knew, the solution to to one problem involved enlisting a friend.  So my first ever video will be done under friend’s tutelage, tomorrow.

Enlarging photos is, it turns out, not difficult, but it will be time-consuming.  It has to be done over several weeks, yet as I will have access to Internet, even whilst on the road, I will get several photos enlarged and sent to their intended recipient, per day.

The human issue is always the most difficult.  I have, as I have mentioned countless times, a variety of friends.  As long as I steer clear of any deep emotional attachment, I am well and good.  Love has to be bigger than that.  Someone who showed interest in me, a few days ago, quickly figured out that was really not the case.  It’s all well and good, as I am really not in the mood for gamesmanship and want to remain in an adult frame of mind.

In a few days, I will sit down and figure out exactly where my spirit will take me, the next two months. I will have my annual physical, tomorrow afternoon, and that will determine a lot.  A couple of camps, with adolescents, will bookend the summer break.  In between, I feel the need to reconnect with friends, across the country, starting with Dineh friends in Coal Mine Mesa and Hopi friends in Polacca, on Father’s Day.  After that, the route will take me to points across the South, then northeast, back across the Midwest and northern Rockies, with a bright shining Starfish at the end of July, in Carson City, before the second adolescent camp.

So, I treat each encumbrance as a chance to break free, with a new sense of strength.

Ten Years Out

18

May 21, 2019-

The title is one of the exercises that a person either starting out, or in mid-career, is often asked by Life Coaches and Mentors to undergo.  “Where will you be, ten years from now?”  The purpose, as I understand it, is to encourage long-term goal setting that is relatively specific, and demonstrates a knowledge of trends.

I have, after finishing reading of my brother, Dave’s, book, gone through a “Ten Years Out”, of sorts.  There will, no doubt, be a mix of adventure and normalcy, or maybe the two combined on a day-to-day basis.  Looking at my 78 1/2 year-old-self reminds me to keep up with my current health regimen, and in some respects I may need to double down on certain elements of said regimen.  I certainly hope to still be hiking then, and being able to exercise regularly.

I allow for the role of grandparent, for volunteering and/or part-time employment in whichever community I find myself.  I allow for service to my Faith and for travel, both nationally and internationally, though much of that will have been achieved (God-willing), by the time my Diamond Jubilee (75) rolls around.

I realize that, at this age, some may find a “Ten Years Out” a bit presumptuous.  All I can say to that is, while it’s true, to some extent, that “Man plans and God laughs”, it is useful to have a framework- and if that framework needs to be adjusted in the face of reality, then changes can be made as needed.

A lot of this may sound similar to previous posts that discuss plans.  I guess that makes me fairly consistent.  As long as I’m useful, though, it’s all good.

Destiny and Metamorphosis

5

May 13, 2019-

A dear friend posted, on another media site, that we are ever in a state of metamorphosis.  This has nothing to do with the shape-shifting that was all the rage, on television and in film, as recently as two years ago (“Game of Thrones”, “Power Rangers”, etc.)  Metamorphosis is best-seen in terms of growth.

I have also read quite a bit, elsewhere, on narcissism.  I once had a touch of that affliction.  My mother never let that horse out of the gate.  She told us that one who regards self as above reproach is dead in the water.

That’s true beyond doubt.  In the course of dividing up the contents of a bin, I re-read some old papers from my administrative and college-teaching days.  One, invaluable, summary of my students’ evaluation of a rather paltry teaching effort, in 2009, pointed out that I trended towards hidebound monotony, complete with soft, unchanging voice, in presenting what should have been a vibrant, challenging course.

When I returned to teaching, after Penny’s passing, the presentation became more vigorous and engaged.  The old dog had to master new tricks.

Likewise, in younger years, my disciplinary tactics included the bellow, and a harsher tone.  Being a full-time counselor “metamorphosed” my demeanor towards favouring my empathic side, and the hardness of my teacher training went out the window.  I have kept that empathy, yet have also learned to employ a modicum of taking people to task, when that appears necessary, though without being rough or demeaning.

Nowadays, my life-change continues. I am in the process of giving many of my professional materials to others.  Work, as I have known it for the past forty-three years, has a light at the end of its tunnel:  One and a half years remain, until my focus becomes largely travel-journalism and Work Away-based, with a healthy mix of family, perhaps even grandparenthood.  There may be some money, in the former, but I am not worried about that.

My destiny, it seems, has always been to go forward, to build bridges and to not be held to anyone else’s notions of success-no matter how well-meaning those may be.  This may require a few more positive life-changes.

 

The Genesis Spirit

4

May 12, 2019-

I only had one call to make, this morning.  Mom is still very much alive and well.  Mother-in-Law is by her eldest daughter’s side, in the spirit world.  I know they still have my back, though their plans for me are somewhat hidden, at this point in time.

I don’t so much fret over my present state of affairs, as wonder where it is leading.  It could be that, tomorrow, when I contact the County Office of Education, I will be told to re-do this or that process or be told simply that everything is in order on my end, but that they need more time to finish the red tape.  Regardless, the academic year is almost over.  The needs of summer will shortly be upon me.

Enough of my quotidia, though.  This is a day, beyond Hallmark cards and the floral industry, for fully recognizing the spirit of nurturance, the raising of generations.  The vast majority of women who give birth are nurturers. There are always exceptions, outliers, who are not fit for the greatest and most honourable job in the human world.  I read of one such benighted soul, earlier this morning.  Most mothers, though, take the ball and run with it-to the eternal benefit of their progeny, or of those whom they take in as their own.

My mother has taken, and still takes, her responsibility as a nurturer seriously.  That spirit has flowed, seamlessly, to her daughter and granddaughters. It has informed the choices of mate that my brothers and I have made-Penny and each of my sisters-in-law raised their children in a sea of discipline and love.  It continues with our children’s generation. Aram and four of his male cousins have each married strong, nurturing women.

It can’t be easy, this balancing of body and soul; this overcoming the intense pain of bringing a newborn into the world of contingency.  It is certainly troubling, to sometimes feel one’s efforts are overlooked, cast aside or unappreciated, until it is often too late.  In my case, I have sometimes felt that I have had to make up for lost time, with the most important people in my life.

That, though, brings out the true beauty of  the genesis spirit:  The power of forgiveness; the strength of forbearance; the ability to get an errant child to take ownership of destiny.  A true mother does the heavy lifting of nurturance, gets a father to buy into the process and sends a child into the wider world, with the assurance that-one’s foibles and weaknesses aside, there will be success against a backdrop of trials and setbacks.  It  will be so, because of the firm foundation of love.

Victim

17

April 27, 2018-

I have not, in real terms, ever been a victim. Yes, I have had an old laptop stolen from me. As I was the only one who could get it to work, chances are it is in the pile of useless electronics. Yes, someone pilfered a U.S. Passport, only to be himself caught, sometime later.

I have not ever been a victim.  Difficulties, stemming from misdirected choices, slow reactions to swiftly changing circumstances and excess trust of incompetent people are not grounds for crying “Poor me”.  I have been a slow learner.  I have placed trust in those who didn’t deserve it.  That is not victim-hood.

I am, instead, far more concerned with those who ARE victims: Children and teens who are put into one form, or another, of servitude-sometimes, even by their own parents;  adults, usually-but not always, women who are promised gainful employment, but instead are turned into slaves, living in brutal conditions; seniors, living in filthy conditions, and mentally unable to call attention to their plight; members of religious or ethnic minority groups, demonized by powerful interests in their own countries.

There will be a time, in the not-too-distant future, when my time, whether traveling, or in a Home Base, somewhere, will be spent primarily in voluntary service.  Then will my focus not be on keeping a roof over my head, but on keeping the vulnerable, wherever, I find them, out of harm’s way.

I am keeping my eyes open, in this relatively peaceful community, until the day that I move on,  and it’s true that there will be plenty of  opportunities to help others-not those with signs or outstretched hands, begging for cash, but people who are being genuinely mistreated, beyond their ability to fight back.

I will remain, not a victim.

 

 

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.

 

Reignition

5

April 13, 2019-

I cam close to making what would have been a pre-mature, and perhaps reckless, decision.  It basically would have meant leaving my Home Base, earlier than expected.  It became unnecessary.

Although, I have felt a good deal less welcome here, since the events of April 3- and yes, people in this growing town still do talk and pass judgement- there are still a few pockets in Prescott where I can go and feel safe.  I spent an hour or so at such a place, Ms. Natural’s, where the owner is relatively friendly and glad for my business-even if her helpers are a bit on the hostile side.   I also went to Farmers’ Market, where a few of the vendors remain friendly.

The Arizona Department of Education has decided to renew my substitute teaching certificate.  This at least will give me the opportunity to maintain a flexible work schedule, bounce back from the most recent assaults on my reputation and show, yet again, that I am basically a loving and competent educator.  So, the notion to retire early, leave this area and re-establish myself, somewhere else, is not something I need to pursue for the time being.  I will be safe enough, among the Baha’is and a few other friends.  Hopefully, things will even out and I can follow my game plan until December, 2020.

 

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.