Places of Which I Don’t Speak Much

8

February 10, 2020-

I kept myself home today, for good measure.

Yesterday was touch and go,

and I made it to the two obligatory gatherings,

being careful not to get too close to anyone,

lest what I felt was coming on,

was transferable.

I don’t speak of illness, much.

This is because it rarely comes calling.

Oregano, and a day of rest,

have knocked it out of me.

Illness is a state of being,

of which I rarely need speak.

Mount Chocorua was the first real peak,

I ever climbed.

I was grateful to my father,

for taking me there,

a uniquely satisfying climb,

that was distorted by a few moments

of diffuse anger,

back at the tent site.

When I had to deal with the same,

as a father, years later,

I knew what to do,

and let the boy work out his feelings.

Long Binh,

the only place where I ever felt

my life was in danger,

was also where I had to stand up

for myself.

So I did, and no harm came.

I may very well return to Viet Nam,

in a couple of years,

but I will leave Long Binh alone.

Hannibal saw me when I was

in a very raw state.

I was not allowed to write freely.

I was refused use of a computer.

Hannibal did not seem kind,

but someday, I will give

Hannibal a second look.

There are many places,

of which I don’t speak much.

 

Inside and Out

0

February 1, 2020-

Everyone has roots in a community,

even if they don’t feel it.

Everyone is an insider,

somewhere.

Everyone is also an outsider,

somewhere.

Which role ends up

as someone’s life path,

destiny,

legacy,

is determined

by the choices

the person makes,

in the day-to-day,

in both light

and darkness.

(I wrote this, after watching several episodes of a procedural: “Sinner”, about a man who is both insider and outsider, in his own hometown.)

 

Before

10

January 29, 2020-

There is always a prerequisite.

Before the day gets going,

there is grooming.

Before there is a conversation,

there is greeting.

Before there is a journey,

there is time and money set aside.

Before there is a relationship,

there is mutual knowledge,

trust and commitment.

Before there is a life well-lived,

there is a moral compass.

Before a door can be closed,

it must first be opened,

and passed.

 

Coercion

6

January 12, 2020-

It’s easy to imagine

that one is on the right track,

and that everyone ought

follow suit.

The Jesuits and Dominicans

thought the use of force

would make the world Catholic.

The Umayyads felt the same

would work for Islam.

Conquerors of legend,

and of infamy,

swore they would

either rule the Earth

or scorch it.

Where are they now?

Remember,

when an idea of yours,

of ours,

sounds like an absolute must,

for all to follow:

What if it strikes some as

inappropriate,

irrelevant,

or just beyond their understanding?

Coercion,

pressure,

shaming

belong in the past.

 

 

My Top Reads of 2019

4

December 29, 2019- 

I covered a decade, yesterday, but today I will take a brief look at the books which mattered most to me, this year.  I have covered key books of years past, as I finished them.

10.  Abby Wize:  AWAY (Revision)– This Baha’i-themed book was revised to include more detail and to flesh out a previously one-dimensional character.  It is the account of a young girl who has a vision of a spiritually-advanced society of the future, after suffering a head injury.

9. Spiritwalker– This tale, similar to Abby Wize, involves communication between a Hawaiian man and one of his descendants, in the far future.  It is more dystopian than Abby Wize, so expect a description of a more seemingly primitive future environment.

8. Winter of the World– The second volume of Ken Follett’s series of novels on the Twentieth Century, this tale covers several families’ experiences in Britain, the United States, Germany and Russia, in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

7.  Swimming for Sunlight– This novel follows a newly-divorced young woman, as she overcomes her guilt stemming from her father’s tragic death and her fear of life, that results from that guilt.

6. Testaments- (Reading in progress)- This novel is a sequel to Margaret Atwood’s “A Handmaid’s Tale”, offering details into the lives of individual women during the period of the fictional Republic of Gilead.

5.  Twelve Rules for Life (Reading in progress)- This non-fiction book, by Jordan Peterson, discusses twelve ethical principles and their application to both modern life and traditional Western thought.

4. The Alchemist– Paolo Coelho’s classic tale of a young man, traveling from Spain to Egypt, across the Sahara Desert and back, and of the spiritual transformation this brings about, in his life and that of those around him.

3. Gulistan (Reading in progress)-  This is a collection of poetry and stories, fdrawn from both the life and from the observations of a doctor who has keen insights into both Indian and American cultures and mores.

2.  Reflections of A Wonderful Life– These are the memoirs of my brother, presented in the form of answers to questions posed by his three children.  They mirror my own memories, in many ways.   Both this book and Gulistan have influenced my own memoirs, in terms of the format in which they will be presented.  No promises, but I look to getting them written, by this coming Fall.

1. The Brothers Karamazov– Feodor Dostoevsky’s seminal novel on the human condition, this novel is not so much concerned with Good vs. Evil, as it is with internal versus external loci of control.  The atheist paints a nihilistic portrait of the bleak Tsarist environment, whilst his own fervently religious brother, alternately optimistic and despairing, sees only the Will of God behind all happenings, both positive and negative.  The eldest brother  is presented as a rake, who fiercely clashes with his simpleton father, over a woman.  The resulting conflict has deadly results, giving rise to the novel’s debates among the brothers on matters of free will and morality.

These are the reads which influenced me the strongest, over the past twelve months.

 

Damage Control

4

November 1, 2019-

Someone put one over on me,

earlier today,

leading to my getting

a mild tongue-lashing.

Anomalous situations

have not been my strong suit.

I reported the matter,

it was handled at a higher level,

and that was the end of it.

The rest of the day was

mostly uneventful,

but my former co-workers

came by with a tea cart,

which one of the students

was manning.

I purchased a cup of tea

and got a hug from the

grateful student,

whom I’ve known for

eight years.

After work, another

critical message came

expressing irritation

that I have chosen

one activity over another,

tomorrow.

There is only one of me,

though,

and the people

on the road I’m not

traveling,

will fare just fine.

I will, as well,

and the one

who took umbrage,

has also been invited

to the event

to which I’m committed.

Choices,

and damage control,

are so often the order of life.

I Care Not; I Care

4

October 25, 2019-

The year,  of which I thought as a pinnacle,

when it was approaching,

now seems a plateau of focus,

as it begins to recede,

into the alpine mists of history.

Here and now have become

more urgent.

Past is  a glimmer,

whose lessons impact

the present stage.

Future is “that time”

of promises,

which only I

can bring to fruition.

Twenty-twenty

appears in my

mind’s eye,

like yin and yang.

In the heat of the now,

I care not for the culture

which glorifies drug use.

The mantra,

“This is better than crack!”,

is the cackling of the ignorant.

I care not for the powers

that pretend to be,

sending their tanks,

flame throwers and

armor-piercing bullets,

against unwitting defenders

of freedom.

I care not for the puppet masters,

who order the innocent

to stand down,

to step aside,

that the purveyors

of death,

may present their wares,

to the foolish and

the deluded.

I care not,

for those who

cry foul,

at being told

that an infant

has the right

to life,

the right

to be adopted,

instead of killed.

I care not,

for those who

start wildfires,

in the hopes

of returning later,

and building

cookie-cutter,

gentrified living resorts,

affordable only to

the favoured few.

I care,

for the struggling,

for the lost children,

kept in a prison box,

with no resources,

save the cement floor,

which they share,

with hundreds,

and with their reluctant

guards,

who are themselves

pariahs.

I care for those

who are beaten,

chased down,

hunted like animals

and then,

treated like filth,

by the jurists,

who look first

at the well-being

of those

who beat, menace

and hunt the innocent,

like so much prey.

I care for those

who have given

their all,

and end up

as footnotes,

in the journals

of narcissists.

Give us your tired,

poor, innocent,

that we may find room

in our hearts and

in our diminishing spaces.

 

 

Resurgence

2

October 14, 2019, Arcosanti-

The first sentient being to greet me,

this morning, was my friend Pam.

It was a silent greeting,

each  of us stretching,

across the courtyard,

of the sleeping area,

known as the Vaults.

There were about twenty of us,

some, like Pam and me,

in our own singular spaces,

and responsible for

our own warmth.

Others coupled,

keeping each other warm

against the early morning chill.

Each of us dreamed,

many lucidly.

I resolved an old conflict,

wondering why fault had been

continually found with me,

all those years ago.

The answer came,

in my lucid dream,

and I was absolved,

set free,

with a new understanding

of why a beloved soul

had been so quick to judge,

back then.

It is always pain,

that brings this on.

When the pain is gone,

so is the blame.

The second sentient being to greet me

this morning,

was a peregrine falcon,

whom I will call Percival.

He perched on the rail,

outside the central kitchen,

and took in our shared morning world.

I sat and did the same,

for several minutes.

This, we can learn from animals.

The morning ever brings resurgence.

Twelve Cypresses

2

October 13, 2019, Arcosanti-

The account of last week’s travels has been pre-empted by revelations that came, duirng a meditation session, this afternoon.

Twelve cypress trees grace the outside of the Vaults.

As I lay in meditation,

gazing upward,

towards their midst,

the middle tree was swaying.

Responding to the breeze,

to the intonation

of a meditation master’s

spoken word,

to the positive thoughts

of those in the circle below.

Soon, the trees on either side

of the intrepid conifer

were swaying,

in unison with their peer.

Soon, I was chanting

in unison with the rest of the circle.

We brought the feeling,

the awareness,

to each of our body’s parts.

The trees brought the sense

that a change was taking place.

in the air,

in the sensitivity,

of those gathered

at their feet.

Those who were friendly

last year,

are somewhat less so.

Others have taken their places.

The twelve cypresses

tell those who are listening,

and watching,

that there is power

in proximity,

even while there is strength

in a short distance.

There is power in unified action,

but uniformity

of behaviour

can detract,

from community.

Those who led me to

a positive sense of self

are moving away.

Those  who are with me now,

are the beings

who will be at my side

for a  stage of growth

which I am only beginning

to understand.

The twelve cypresses

make clear,

that the flexible

yet firm

will endure.

 

 

 

 

Be(k)nighted

4

September 27, 2019-

Reflecting on the tendency of many, to place blind trust in a celebrity, or other person of renown:

You, so blameless, in the eyes of the like-minded,

cast aspersions on the character of others,

at odds with yourself,

who, themselves are viewed as blameless,

in the eyes of those of similar mindset.

They, in turn, cast aspersions on you,

and the cats chase each others’ tails.

The resulting hole,

hole in the ground,

rabbit hole,

gets deeper,

murkier,

until none

but those with

the keenest of vision,

can see any glimmer

of light.

Meanwhile,

you gaslight,

obfuscate,

blame cast

and enlist

legions of  legalists,

talking heads

and eager apologists.

You are on the Right,

or on the Left.

It makes no difference

since you see yourself

as above it all.

How far you have,

to fall.