Self-Belief

7

January 19, 2020-

I set out for a trailhead,

this noon,

and didn’t find it.

I will, though,

having come back here,

and used my ruler,

to apply the scale of miles.

I was asked to return

to the school where I worked

last week.

I will be back there,

to offer at least some

continuity.

Belief in myself

has come late,

and come hard.

There are still critics,

but they barely know me.

They only know

their own frustration,

and own pain.

There are boosters,

who do know me,

and for whose

presence

I am supremely

grateful.

I think of this,

after a day

of floundering,

and of considering

the words of friend,

foe, and in-between,

alike.

I am not floundering,

now,

and look to tomorrow,

and the week ahead,

as acts of service await.

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

Fleeting Power

6

January 14, 2020, Peach Springs-

The Colorado River flows, past a point about ten miles from where I sit.  If I were to follow Diamond Springs Road to its terminus, I would be able to stand and witness the power of this still mighty flow.  The Colorado’s power helped to carve out the massive series of gorges that envelop it.  The Grand Canyon itself has an intense set of powers, all its own.

So, it is ironic, to the nth degree, that the people living in its midst have come to feel powerless, for much of their existence within the framework of the most powerful country of the past 1 1/4 centuries.  The Hualapai and their near neighbours, the Havasupai, know the Canyon more intimately than anyone, with the possible exception of the Dineh (Navajo).  Until about ten years ago, though, the Hualapai enjoyed very little of the economic benefits of the Grand Canyon’s drawing power.  The tribe has established a set of West Rim attractions-a Sky Walk, Eagle Point, and a rafting enterprise, as the Colorado can be accessed from a point on the Reservation.  There is also the comfortable Hualapai Lodge and a fairly well-stocked, if somewhat pricey Walapai Market.

I can tell people who feel powerless, from their language- an inordinate reliance on profanity and pejoratives as their means of projecting force.  The louder and more frequently a person curses; the more often someone is dismissive of people who are different from self, the more there is compensation for one’s own perceived irrelevance.

I’ve seen that, in many places-and I see it with several of the children with whom I’m working here.   That, alone, makes the 1 1/2 months I am likely to spend here, extremely urgent.  Not only building them up, but helping to establish a framework for long-term success, have to be primary goals.

Power derived from deception and intimidation is fleeting.  The Hualapai can no longer afford to rely on this means to power.

Changes of Scene

10

January 13, 2020, Peach Springs, AZ-

As I contemplated the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year, over Christmas-New Year’s Break, two things became evident:  1.  I wanted as many work days as I could arrange and 2.  It would no longer be advisable to turn down work that required a 7 a.m. start.

There are two semesters remaining, before I find my way in the retirement arena.  This one has no outstanding interruptions.  The next one won’t start for me, until September, as August will still find me on the road.

So, it was quite a welcome message that came, towards the end of Break, that the little school here, in  this Seat of the Hualapai Indian Community, some 120 miles west northwest of Prescott, needed a substitute- for an unspecified, but fairly lengthy, period of time.

The deal is, 7 a.m. is the start time.  5 p.m. is the end time, but kids leave at 3. So, all the grading and planning can, conceivably be accomplished during work hours-at least it worth a shot.  The work week is Monday-Thursday, which explains the long day.  Thursdays, substitutes get to leave at 3, so some of my Prescott business can still be done on Thursday, before 6.

Okay, that’s enough stream of consciousness.  My focus, on any day that I am here, will be on the well-being and advancement of people who will be the Guardians of the western reach of the Grand Canyon.  The Hualapai Nation has made some strides, in that regard, including the Sky Walk, from which one can gaze down into the Canyon’s west rim and a road to the Colorado River, on which Hualapai guides bring people to the bottom, without hiking or riding mules.  Although I prefer hiking, the opening of the Canyon, to those unable to walk far, is a plus.

Thus has 2020 already brought a change of scene.

Thoughts on A Serene Saturday

6

January 4, 2020-

Today had no particular agenda.

There will be lots of days like that.

They sustain me, sustain us,

through the frenzied course

of other days.

It was mild today,

and those who were

not made ill,

by the recent cold snap,

were out in force,

at Farmers’ Market.

I met my Dharma family

and a serene, lovely grandmother,

who was winding up her visit.

I see where L gets his sense

of calm purposefulness.

A long “update”

of my New Year’s

produced a few

stifled yawns from the

otherwise attentive vendor.

I’ll know to keep my

quotidia to myself,

in the future.

I said farewell,

this afternoon,

to four place mats,

which have been

in our households

for nearly twenty years.

It’s time for refurbishing,

one step at a time.

Apartment supe

liked the lasagna

he got for the holidays.

So, it’s been a quiet one,

and a fine day for reflection

and figuring out practical matters.

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.

And It Was….

4

December 31, 2019-

It was a time of loss.

The decade took Penny, my wife of twenty-eight years and nine months, both her parents Norm and Ruth (“Bunny”), two of her aunts Averala and Helen (“Honey”), two of  her cousins, Tom and Jean, and a cousin-in-law, Richard.

It took my maternal uncles, Carl and James,  Carl’s two children-Keith and Carla, and our cousin Ronnie.

It did not spare my father’s side of the family, either, taking Uncle George, Aunt Adeline (“Sissy”) and her son Bob.

It brought several others to the Life Beyond, friends all:  Christie Serino, Drew Crotty, Larry Silipigni, Alan and Rick Belyea, from my hometown of Saugus, MA;  Alison Sipes, from Indiana; Mildred “Mildoo” Forney, who, along with her daughter, made my visits to Oley, PA an annual pleasure; my American Legion comrades Bob Wittmann, Dennis Young, John Mortimer, Sue Chambers, Al Tercero-among several;  a host of Baha’i  fellows- Ali and Violette Nakhjavani, Nancy Coker, John Cook, Firuz Khazemzadeh, Avid Navidi, Dick Sloman, Moses Nakai, Russ Garcia, Chester Kahn, Roy Dewa, Tom Smith, Keith John Manybeads.

 It was a time of change.

It saw me get out of town, leaving Phoenix, after ten years.  Prescott, once more, became Home Base.

It saw our son, Aram, follow in the footsteps of many of his forebears, on both sides of the family and enter the service of his country, serving in the United States Navy, for nine years.

It saw him enter into matrimony.  Having returned to Korea, the land of his birth, as part of his service, Aram met and married Yunhee, a superlative addition to our family.

It saw us honour two of my nieces, who preceded him down the aisle, also bringing spouses who add luster to the Boivin brood.

It was a time of growth.

It brought in fourteen new members of my Grandniece/nephew Club and some new additions to my Greater Tribe.

There were a couple of good years, working full time, at Prescott High School, and several others spent substitute teaching.

The decade brought me the joy of giving back- with the American Red Cross, Slow Food, school garden projects, and the Farmers’ Market, as well as American Legion Post 6 and the Baha’i community.  It has brought me many new friends, members of my Tribe, who consistently make this life a thing of beauty.

Then, there were those journeys- annually to see family, on the East Coast, in the South and in the Midwest, which is never “Flyover Country” to me; my first solo visit to Europe, partly on my father-in-law’s behalf and partly because  I wanted to connect with the lands of my ancestors;  I returned to Korea, to  fully embrace my son’s wedding and to recap our life in Jeju; Hawaii welcomed me, in advance of the Tiger Cruise from Honolulu to San Diego, as Aram & crew returned from a Pacific Rim deployment; I fulfilled some of the dreams I shared with Penny, and explored the Pacific Northwest, a bit of British Columbia; southeast Alaska and eastern Canada; California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado were constantly seeing my face-largely to spend time with far-flung members of my Tribe.  Shorter, but no less meaningful, jaunts around Arizona, Utah and New Mexico filled in the blanks.

Now, the sun has risen on a new decade, for much of the world and the year, which once loomed as a pinnacle in my life, has a remaining shelf life of nine hours, here in the Mountain Standard Time Zone.

This decade of joy, sorrow, gain, loss, advances and setbacks will soon give way to another, likely much more of each.  Happy 2020, one and all!

2010-19: How I’ve Changed

4

December 30, 2019-

It’s said that nothing in the Universe remains static for long. Even inanimate objects experience molecular change.  Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve been likened to a piece of furniture, and the blessed soul who made that comparison is himself long departed from our midst.

The decade now ending has been, in many ways, the most seismic in my life, since the 1980’s. In that decade, the changes were commensurate with full adulthood:  Finding spiritual footing, courting and marriage, solidifying of a career, loss of a parent, and  my own parenthood.

The changes that have come in the 2010s have been more in keeping with true maturity.  I’m not altogether there yet.  Few of us ever are.  The process has been in fits and starts, and suitably so, as everyone’s late middle age is unique.

So:

Losing a spouse– This was a long haul, and arguably something about which Penny warned me, several times throughout our wedlock..  It was the culmination of a lifelong, hereditary disease, that had come for a reckoning.  It made me responsible for the care of a vulnerable adult, at a time when a burgeoning adult needed us both.  There was always a balance to be struck.  The biggest lesson in this, was that never again could I indulge in the slightest amount of self-pity.  Buus Huus, the imaginary Roman patron of the woebegone, had taken his flight.

Altering my sense of community– I left Phoenix, after ten years, being alternately comforted in my sorrow and admonished about abandoning my duty to the community.  I found the latter ironic, as the West, especially in its urban and suburban contexts, has relied, to a great extent on the safety to be found in maintaining anonymity, in entering and exiting one’s residence, through the garage and inside a vehicle.

Prescott became my community, but it was, and is, more Home Base than castle.  I have dear friends here, who are never far from my mind.  Yet, the closest of them, even my best friend, know and accept that I have concern with people far afield.  Part of this is my Sagittarian being, part is boundless love.

Connecting with people– It’s become far easier for my mildly Asperger’s/autistic self to reach out to those not previously known to me, and to engage in meaningful conversation.  That has made both quotidian life and novel experiences more meaningful.  Largely gone is the concern with rejection.

Shedding long-held shackles– Subconscious  and  self-limiting views onto which I held, about women, people of colour and just about anyone different from me, have fallen away.  I’ve long known that overarching prejudice is wrong and have managed my behaviour accordingly.  In 2014, I was reproached regarding the residual bias, the microprejudices which, in retrospect, were continuing to cause difficulties in life.  Things like subtly expecting less of someone, because of gender, ethnicity or physical status constitute a forest that is hard to see for its trees-until someone comes along and blows the wake-up dog whistle.  Now, it is not possible for me to regard anyone solely on anything other than his or her merits.

Finally, self-acceptance– With all of these other changes comes a view of myself as fully worthy of taking my place in society.  There are few people, in Prescott and elsewhere, who choose to show me disrespect, and I know to disengage myself from such people, unless and until they change their attitudes.  Fall, 2018 was a litmus test of that practice, and was the first time, in many years,  that I totally blocked someone from my life.  The roof didn’t cave and life has proceeded just fine.

The changes that accompanied this decade are sure to have import for the years to come.  It’ll be fascinating to live.

Schisms and -isms

4

December 12, 2019-

A participant in a recent Baha’i Studies Conference, in Ottawa, Ontario, made the case for a movement she called “womanism”.  The gist of this movement’s philosophy is similar to to the campaign message of the American politician, Tulsi Gabbard:  Bring forward a true ethic of inclusion; the practice of not shutting anyone out, on the basis of their stated beliefs.  The premise here is inclusion, not opposition.

I favour such a movement, as I believe that everyone has a grain of truth to bring to the table.  That does not mean that someone who regards others as inferior should remain unchallenged in her/his pronouncements and certainly, actions that take away someone else’s rights or extinguish viewpoints, contrary to what one believes, are to be seen as counterproductive.  Repressed thoughts and opinions will never disappear.  They may even return, with a vengeance, in the form of counter-revolution.

It also does not sanction violence against one’s philosophical opponents, if for no other reason than to preclude their being seen as martyrs.   I much prefer to maintain appropriate dialogue, with its inherent boundaries, than to shut a person out in perpetuity.  Again, I draw the line at those who threaten violence or demand that I “toe the line.”

Many movements end their names with the suffix, “-ism”.  To wit, besides the above-mentioned womanism, we have “feminism”, “Islamism”, “supremacism” and the more conventional nationalism and sectarianism.  Such -isms, especially the last four mentioned, seem to lead to schism.  The founders of such movements may, or may not, have envisioned such divides, and thus incorporated them in their planning.    Nonetheless, any time one sets out to make a difference, if there is a pre-conceived Other, there is a potential schism.  Even a term as seemingly benign as non- (insert your identity group), is inherently creating a division in society.

It’s time to seriously work on abandoning the concept of “Other.”  Our self-concepts do not need it, in order to appreciate our uniqueness.