Thirty Days In

2

March 29, 2020-

I began serious application of Coronavirus Disease 19 response planning, on Leap Day, February 29.  In the past thirty days, these have happened:

Work stopped, on March 6, at 3 p.m.  Part of that was Spring Break, but my employer stopped assigning people on March 11.  I got some pay, this past Friday.

I said “see you soon” to friends who have since closed their businesses, moved away from college dorms, stopped playing gigs in local clubs and are generally sequestered.

Prayed, incessantly.

Learned a  lot about navigating Zoom and opened an account with that medium.  Hosted my first meeting on it, today.

Have been catching up with reading, journaling and, yes, Netflix.

Have made plans for “journeys in place”-studying various topics.

Kept in touch with people across the planet, to see how things are going.

Have done take-out orders, just so some support is going their way.  Same with food boxes  from the Farmers Market and groceries for a pop-up food bank at the Toyota dealership.

It’s standard stuff, and part of being a member of society.  Would do it all over again, no questions asked.

Brighter days are ahead.

 

 

 

Love Means Energy

8

February 14, 2020-

It’s been quite a few years, since Valentine’s Day meant taking time for romance.  The last such day was in 2011, and it was to prove the last such day,ever,-at least as far as I know now.  Penny wasn’t so much connected with us, but on that day, she was home.  She would have about 1 1/2 more weeks, living in the house that we struggled to keep.  I got six carnations, placed them in a vase, and made sure she knew they were there.  I felt her happiness, at seeing her favourite flowers.  The last time I placed carnations in a vase, six months ago, it was at her grave.

The woman closest to me now is not huge on flowers in a vase.  She prefers things she can plant.  She is also more careful with romance, for good reason.  We are  the best of friends, and that works well for me.   The key is always to meet such of the needs of another person, with which s(he) entrusts you.  We are one another’s most fervent well-wisher, sounding board and healer.

There are many other friends in my life, as my readers know-many of you are among them, in real time.  In any case, you are friends in spirit, and that has made all the difference, in times of setback and low energy.  My friends are a good part of what keeps me going.

Then, there is the purpose-the driving force behind each day, for which I draw breath.  Now, it is the life skills development of  a young lady, who has spent her brief life working mightily to learn things which so many of us take for granted.  She reminds me of my youngest brother, gone these twenty-six years.  She is the primary reason for my work, from now until the third week in May.

Love is also putting stock in the Will of God-that things happen for a reason, or for several reasons, all having to do with relationships, with personal development.  Some things happen, or don’t happen, according to our human, finite plans-but they always happen for reasons found in the Cosmos.  I had planned to visit a friend, whose husband is seriously ill, at an event in her business, this evening.  Instead, whilst I was driving to an earlier event, a tire blew and I made it to said earlier event-barely.

Friends there helped me, and thanks to the AAA, my car is at the regular mechanic’s shop.  Tomorrow morning will thus be spent with the mechanic and getting the two new tires I seem to need.  The tax returns will wait until next week.  I will stop at the other friend’s business, tomorrow afternoon.  I’ve learned to see even  mishaps as blessings.

Love means putting energy into the betterment of those around you, as well as taking care of self.

The Life We’ve Planned

11

February 8, 2020-

“We must let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”-Joseph Campbell

Over the years, I’ve learned that planning, while it offers the benefit of a loose framework, is both preferable to chaos and inferior to serendipity.  In 2014, I overplanned my European journey, day by day.  When the opportunity of joining an American troupe at Omaha Beach, in Normandy, presented itself-I found myself turning it down-as I had a hotel reservation in Rouen, and didn’t want to sacrifice the night’s lodging.  It’s academic, as to whether this would have been a worthwhile sacrifice, as the night in Rouen was uneventful.

Of late, I’ve been going more with my deeper feelings-turning down jobs, when I sense that taking them on would not do the students any good, and accepting them, when I feel that I have something definite to offer.  The same remains true of leisure pursuits.  I generally roll with my gut, or with my heart, when deciding which path to follow, of a weekend or day off.  There was a time, a few years back, when I was looking towards a three-year Trifecta of through-hikes:  Arizona Trail, Appalachian/East Coast Recreation Trail and Pacific Crest Trail.  A strong sense that I needed to stay put, during much of the year, has borne fruit, during this period-2017-19.  As we’ve seen, I was on the road, anyway-just on a route that proved more beneficial to self and others-and let me serve this community, for 8-10 months.

The life that’s waiting for me, after December, is a cipher.  In the meantime, there are several paths on which I may find myself-with the anchor of this Home Base, a small group of reliable friends, and  several more, who are a bit more mercurial.  I have confidence that Dr. Joe was right, and that accepting the life that is waiting will be just as rewarding, if not more so, than what I had planned.

Sustainable

3

January 30, 2020-

I have long felt a connection with nature, in its deepest and purest forms.  This may be a matter of genetic memory.  The forest and the ocean have been places of comfort and affirmation, since I was a very young child.  That this connection should have been gradually extended to desert, prairie and alpine mountain is only a logical progression.

With such a tie to the natural world, connection with those who embrace an ethic of sustainable cultures, of various forms, also comes naturally.  I have been gradually moving away from “throwaway” living, since 1981. It has been a process fraught with fits and starts, but recycling-at least-has been ingrained in my life, for nearly that long.

This evening, I made good on a promise to myself and some members of the Baha’i community, and joined a small group at Prescott College:  The Sustainability Club.  I was the only person over 25, in that gathering-but found a genuine welcome. The group is finding its way, and plans a clean-up on Sunday, which I’ll join.  Other plans include improving the composting arrangement on the small campus, a clothing recycling effort and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, in mid-April.

My plan is to join the Sustainability Club’s efforts as often as possible, and to help them network with like-minded groups in the area, particularly Slow Food-Prescott and other environmental organizations.  There is much I can share with the youths and much that they have to impart to me, as well.  This semester, and next, will be a fine time for building a solid sustainable community.

Knife’s Edge

6

January 26, 2020-

I don’t have to live for adventure.  It finds me, in large and small ways-both close by and farther afield, nearly every day.  It’s likely that this happens because of my tendency, albeit fairly recent, to focus on what’s around me with intensity and alacrity.  The spiritual discussion we had this morning, for example, opened my mind to a much wider view of what constitutes meditation.  As many messages from my spirit guides come during intense meditation, it’ll be interesting to see which messages arise from some of the avenues that were suggested by participants in the group.

Jordan Peterson, in discussing the presence of hierarchy and of laws, in human society, points out that, with all the potential perils and thousands of stimuli that we face each day, multiplied over the lifespan of the human race, it would have been well nigh impossible for humanity to have achieved anything close to what we see in our historical-and “pre-historical” record, let alone what exists today, through human ingenuity, without some sort of organization.  It’s worth noting that most species of animals have some sort of hierarchy.

Life has, indeed, many aspects that play out on a knife’s edge, so to speak.  Just in my small sphere of existence- there is a 69-year-old body, that has remained quite healthy, give or take a few dental issues, some staph infections on my skin and a couple of joint inflammations, which have gone away, with treatment; there is my well-maintained car, which is likely to see me through local driving-and a long journey around North America, this summer-and more local driving next autumn, through winter.  My cars, when not the object of tampering, or abuse prior to my ownership, have lasted a very long time.  My work history has certainly played out, on a knife’s edge.  Each experience, though, has taught me a myriad life lessons-ditto, for my friendships, and other encounters.

So, the large and the small of it will likely long continue-relatively speaking.  20-30 years, if I have left what some have told me I have, is relatively short, but a lot can be packed into it.

 

 

Growing (Beyond) Pains

9

January 24, 2020-

Every community has its pain.  I saw lots in Peach Springs, just as I did so many years ago, in various communities of the Navajo (Dineh) and Hopi Nations-and I know the pain continues, even though life is better, in some parts of the old Home Base.  So, too, there was, and is, pain in Phoenix, in La Paz County and here in Prescott.  I heard of suffering in Seligman, which is en route to any point northwest of here, yesterday, when I stopped for an early dinner.

People have their concerns, their agonies and their setbacks.  What makes the difference in much of this, is the extent to which the suffering souls lay their woes at the feet of others.  I’ve done some of that, and have thankfully learned to put that mindset behind me.  Whine and cheese are not the stuff of social progress.

I have said a bit about what I’d like to see in Peach Springs, though my own skill sets may not do much, immediately, to help that community, on the ground.  Prescott does have a few programs in place, which can help those who are knocked down, in getting themselves upright.  Essentially, though, it falls to each person to determine his/her own course of action.  The Blame Game may be mildly salving, for a day or so, then the confusion sets in, as one sees no progress.

When I last found myself really foundering, I had to set concrete steps for my own recovery.  They involved a mix of travel, social media-journaling, exercise, photography and involvement in the community that I chose as Home Base.  That mix still suits me, and it will long continue.

My hopes for each community that matters in my heart is that strong and good-hearted people will take the lead and show their family, friends and neighbours the way forward.  I want to be there when these communities arise.

Circle of Gold

9

January 23, 2020-

The small circle of  staff members gathered on the lawn of Peach Springs School, after the students had left for the weekend.  We did a postmortem on the day, and the short week.  A decision was made, to gather student laptops, and wipe them clean of inappropriate websites.  When the students do get to use the devices again, they will be free of the sites that only reinforce the baser instincts that hobble so many youth.  There will be a more concerted effort to monitor these sites.  This is something that is de rigeur to me, in over twenty-seven years of dealing with youth and technology.  For others, not familiar with the technological prowess of youth, it is easy to lapse into a LaLa Land of denial. That denial could have proven deadly.

My time at Peach Springs ended, for now,with today’s lessons.  I am always welcome back there, but leave knowing that the person taking over the second grade class knows them well, and has a good command of elementary education.  My work there, for the time being, is done.  I will maintain contact with the staff and students with whom I have bonded, much as contact with lifelong friends elsewhere has been maintained.  Much more  will be said, over the coming months, about underachieving  communities.  The bottom line for Peach Springs and places like it, is that the community must recognize that their only hope comes from realizing that they, the people, are just as worthy and capable as anyone in this nation, or on this planet.  I will never stop encouraging others, whether up close or from a distance.

I have obligations, both here in Prescott, and by way of keeping vigilant, with a situation involving a dear friend of many years.   The days and months ahead will not lack for activity, involvement in community life or efforts at building.

As for Peach Springs School, over the coming months, may the parents and community start to clear away the dust from their collective ennui, and rebuild what can be a powerful, achieving community.  Then will the little circle of gold, that is the staff of that school, begin to be seen for who they are, and the children will be able to focus on what matters in their lives.

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.