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.

 

 

Indelible

8

December 7, 2019-

Three men remain alive, of the Americans who fought at Pearl Harbor.  It’s been 78 years, since that day that brought the United States into de jure  conflict with Imperial Japan. The de facto war had been going on for some time, with Lend Lease and with Americans enlisting in other nations’ military forces.

The conflict was both the second-worst war of the Twentieth Century, after its predecessor, and the scenario for the hardest choices this country’s leadership has ever had to make.  The contributions of our best service people, the sacrifices of our civilian populace and the courage of underground fighters, across the globe- and on every inhabited continent, all are part of what makes World War II indelible in the memory of a conscious citizen.

Earlier today, one of the last Pearl Harbor veterans was laid to rest, on the sunken remains of the USS Arizona, the prime memorial site of that horrific attack.  Next weekend, our memorials to fallen veterans continues, with the laying of wreaths in each National Cemetery, across the country.   We will maintain our tributes to those who fell, and to those who came back, continued to serve those they loved and, in many cases, struggled with their demons.

Their fight for the common good, however ongoing and difficult, is indelible.

Love’s Many Labours

2

December 5, 2019-

The Shepherd mix, with tan spots on a white coat, sauntered into the room where I was preparing for my biweekly chiropractic appointment.  He’s done this, the past few times I have been there, settling down in front of me, for a few minutes of petting and scratching.  He’s a rescue dog, so I don’t roughhouse with him, the way I did with my Rottweilers, back in the ’90’s.  It’s all very gentle and reassuring.  His labour, as it were, is to let those he trusts know that all is well with the world.

His master, the chiropractor, came in and did a quick, but thorough, adjustment, remarked on the nicety of my newly-purchased pair of Puma Soft Foams and dashed off to his next patient.  His quick and efficient session never gives the impression of being slip-shod.  Chiropractic, from a strong pair of hands, takes little time.

One of the late Bill Tracey’s namesake restaurants had a fund-raising event, this evening.  I went over, and found it was a packed house, despite the persistent rain.  Due to the dearth of  restaurant parking spaces and the vigilance of the landlord, in the adjoining office building (NO restaurant parking, even when the office tenants are not present), I parked across the street, in the lot of an empty building.  A two-seater table, which I often use, when dining there alone, was available.  I was pleasantly greeted by server “#88” (Bill never liked to name his servers, especially the young ladies, on a receipt. The family continues this practice.), and enjoyed the fare of the evening, knowing that a fair portion of the proceeds was going to a good cause.  With no dining companion, I observe how the workers are going about their efforts, as well as the camaraderie of surrounding parties.  Bill’s Grill is a cozy place, and comfortable, despite the enclosed porch structure of the main dining area.  “# 88”, as it happens is a cheerful, endearing young woman, with loving greetings and attention to every one of her guests.  I could see, though, that the heavy workload was starting to wear on her, just a bit.  I had no need of  dessert  and was just as glad when she  brought the bill, without the customary offer.  This woman, and the entire, all-female team, were working with intense, caring efficiency.  I tipped highly.

These are examples of love at work, the result of which keeps the world on an even keel, despite all that we see going on to the contrary.  Outside of the world of remunerated labour, there is what we do for one another, just because it’s right.  In a devotional meeting at a nearby college, after dinner, I consulted the two other participants, regarding a task that has landed on my lap, and which I sometimes find onerous.  They expressed the opinion that careful examination of the actual elements of the task would lend it less burdensome.  So it was, when I found the actual evening’s “workload” was a large amount, but one which could be skimmed, rather than considered line by line, I was able to remark on the most salient points being expressed.

Approaching any task with love makes its completion much easier.

No Pause Button

4

December 1, 2019-

This holiday weekend, now drawing to a close, reminded me that even in the midst of a wonderful celebration, there may come the cry of the needy.  I tended to that, as best I could, without besmirching the kindness of one of my dearest friends and members of her family.  I was honoured, beyond measure, on Thursday afternoon and evening.  It doesn’t take much, anymore, for me to feel that.  I go forward, at age 69, with a continued sense of personal worth.  Thanksgiving, 2019 was the sixth straight year at table with this wonderful family that has found its way into my heart.

Friday was, of course, our first real bout of winter weather, one month ahead of the actual season.  Shoveling a path to the street was followed by a night manning a shelter, which no one needed.  That is beside the point, though, as shelters are, by definition, designed to be manned proactively.  I have to say, the large Arizona Republic Thanksgiving Crossword kept me  very well-occupied, nearly until morning.

Saturday, I finally answered the figurative tapping on the window, and hopefully have drawn the right attention to the issues that were raised by an online correspondent.  The rest of the day, though, was spent catching up on the sleep I forewent, whilst manning the shelter.  Being up most of Friday night, though, showed that I still have stamina.  The evening was graced by the megaton voice of one Jacqui Foreman, who showed both vocal range and mastery of two types of guitar, in a concert at The Raven Cafe. She and her two accompanists delivered a solid three hours of a range of music, from soft rock ballads to acoustic jazz; Ma Rainey, through Frank Sinatra, to The Cranberries and Metallica, all find a spot in Sister Jackson’s repertoire. Among the people who I encountered there were a veteran musical arranger, a little boy who was somehow fascinated by my presence and a young lady who waved at me, from across the room- a case of mistaken identity.  It’s always colourful at The Raven.

Today, the last month of a decade of growth launched itself.  I tidied up my driveway, which had still been laden with ice and snow.  The sun was a big helper, and now the driveway is mostly clear.  The breakfast meeting at the Legion was cancelled, so I went down to Cupper’s, for an order of skinny pancakes, with melon on the side.  Several transient men were there, warming themselves, waiting for a Salvation Army service, across the street.  They had a very sobering account of the snowstorm just passed.  At least, there was an active shelter-not the one I manned, but the regular overnight shelter that SA provides, on below-freezing nights.  The day ended with a short Baha’i meeting, and now I look forward to a fruitful December.

Work will likely still be slow, but I will be mainly concerned with my dear daughter-in-law, who arrives  next Sunday, for nearly a month.  Aram will be back, after New Year’s and his last days with the regular Navy.  It’ll give me a chance to introduce Yunhee to our fair state and to several of my dear friends.  Then, too, is everything that has to do with Christmas time in Prescott, and around the state.

Smelling The Roses

4

November 24, 2019-

For the longest time, I went through life being purposeful, and regarding taking time with non-essentials as a waste of time.  Even time in nature had to be for the purpose of reaching a goal.

Penny got me to slow down, just a bit, and to not  look at life as just a thing to be accomplished.  Since I wasn’t really all that ambitious, in the conventional sense, learning to relax and not be time-driven was actually refreshing.

Jordan Peterson’s twelfth rule for life is “If You See A Cat on The Road, Pet It.”.    Although many of the cats I’ve encountered in life are hardly willing to be petted, the sentiment is  a charming one.

Being semi-retired, I now take more time for the gentle pleasures of life.  Most of the people in my life understand this, and many say it’s high time. I have encountered a few who take umbrage at my pastimes, and their words sometimes trigger memories of my past.  This leads me to lash out, as I did in the earlier version of this post.  Time away, reading “Abby Wize”, brought me back down to the level at which I am in a better frame of mind.  Nobody likes being triggered, yet I need to keep above it.

That is the thing.  I have worked hard, at a number of endeavours, both professionally and socially.  I have earned a measure of taking time to smell the roses.  Lest anyone think I was playing the victim card earlier- think again.  Lest anyone think I am dodging social responsibility, think twice.  I  continue to be very much involved in community activities. That, to me, is part of taking time for what is beautiful in life.  Towards that end, I enjoy walking in our lovely town, spending much time in leisurely walks through nature.  I will continue to enjoy time with non-judgmental people.  I will pet animals, especially dogs, which enjoy that kind of attention.  As you may have guessed, I will also continue to travel widely, especially towards the late spring and summer months of next year.  As Dr. Peterson says, taking time for what is meaningful is what keeps us in good health, and even helps the sick to recover.

This concludes my first set of commentaries on the Twelve Rules for Life.

 

 

Fulfilling vs. Expedient

13

November 11, 2019, Santa Monica-

A few days ago, back at Home Base, I found that some javelinas had knocked over a couple of neighbours’ trashcans.  Although it was early morning and I was in relaxation mode, there was the element of “We don’t have to live like this”, which has long been my mantra, with regard to tolerating a squalid environment.  I went outside and picked up the entire mess.

Jordan Peterson’s seventh rule for living is “Do what is fulfilling, instead of what is expedient”.  My mother never let us slide, when it was time to get a task, chore or school assignment done.  God knows, there were plenty of times when I would have loved to hang loose and slack off.  It is a blessing that I never got away with it.

Many times, people have said to me that I do things “the hard way”.  Mostly, if I do such things, it is so I can remember how to do them properly, the next time.  As for not being necessarily expedient, I have found that cutting corners almost always returns to haunt me.  It’s better to go the extra mile, the first time.

That is also the way of the veteran, whose service rarely, if ever, allowed for expediency.

 

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.

Mandala

2

September 22, 2019-

The mandala was prescient.

This is the last day of summer/winter (I reference the juxtaposed seasons, in acknowledging the essential unity of north and south.  Both extreme seasons present challenges.)  Fall/spring, starting tomorrow, will offer celebrations of fruition or of new beginnings.

I drew a mandala, yesterday, in the course of attending a small peace gathering, in the early evening.  Being no great artist, but having a curiosity, I let the Universe guide my thoughts, starting with a bright, fiery orange circle and moving outwards.

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Clashing, opposing colours are placed alongside, or in succession to, one another.  A green human and animals of colours with which they are not normally associated, occupy the outer layer. That you may not be able to distinguish which is which, is a testimony to my own rudimentary art skills and to the thick, stubby crayons provided.  No matter-the message is one of coexisting with differences and among opposites.

That was a key point of the entire day.  I spent a good part of Saturday walking a hilly neighbourhood, visiting people ranging from a transplanted Southern man proudly displaying a Confederate flag to a young woman professional and her dogs, all for the sake of verifying that the homes either had working smoke alarms or that my team mate and I installed them, before leaving the area.  It was all part of a concerted effort by the Red Cross to keep yet another neighbourhood safe.  Most people in the area covered have indeed tended to their own safety.  Heightened awareness, and insurance company diligence, have greatly lessened our workload.

After resting a bit, the evening Peace events beckoned.  I walked a labyrinth, at a church up the street, savouring the serenity that such calm attention to detail brings.  Then came mandala activity, followed by three of us Baha’is saying prayers, in front of  a very small audience-quality not quantity!  Before we prayed, a very nice lady, who had practiced three songs of peace, but had not had an audience for her scheduled performance, was invited to offer the songs.  Delivered a capella, these original songs, in a soft jazz lilt, created a lingering air of power and strength.

The evening brought another activity- Dances of World Peace, which I learned is an ongoing monthly activity of the Prescott Sufi Community.  Building peace between individuals, these dances involve following a few fairly simple moves, and rotating among partners-without regard to gender or age.  The point is acknowledging each person’s presence and spirituality.  That draws people out of pre-conceived notions and out of their comfort zones.  Yet, as I think of it, that which takes me out of my own comfort zone, has the effect of expanding that zone.

The mandala was prescient.  It had me draw opposites together, which is really the point of world unity.  The past several days, most recently this morning, I have been contacted by  social media friends from countries I’ve never visited, and which have not been on my immediate radar.  The Universe is telling me, a few years in advance, to get ready to expand my world, and comfort zone, even further.

The words that came to me, to write on the mandala:  “Night is the frontier we cross. Daylight waits beyond the gate of trial.”

Proud

4

September 20, 2019-

I’m proud of you,

who stood for what you believe

and told the world that Man

has a duty, to be a good steward

of this planet.

I’m proud of you,

for telling those who ignore

the warning signs,

to wake up,

as this planet doesn’t just belong

to the polluters,

to the Big Dogs,

to the billionaires,

to those who tell you

to shut up and go away.

I’m proud of you,

for saying that

your life matters

as much as anyone else’s.

I’m proud of you,

for standing tall.

for standing firm.

I’m proud of you,

every one of you.

Be prepared for the hard work that follows from today.

(Written on the occasion of Climate Strike)

Home Is Fluid

6

September 17, 2019-

“Well help me figure this place out.  I know I’m an outsider, but I’m not an enemy.” “No, you’re not.  But in this town those two words mean the same thing.”                     – Toni Morrison, “Paradise”

So, I was part of an interview, this morning, promoting a Home Safety event, sponsored by the American Red Cross, and to be held this coming Saturday.  Inside that little room, among friends, I felt like somebody, safe and honoured.  The interview went well, and I felt secure in sharing it on social media, once back in my apartment.

Walking from the studio to Ms. Natural’s, I crossed the Courthouse Plaza, normally a neutral place, where all are welcome, at least officially. Today, I had to pass by those who glared at me in my Red Cross shirt and ball cap; pass by the well-to-do, who look down at anyone not dressed for business.  It’s never pleasant dealing with the Self-Perceived Originals, in any community.

It was much different at Ms. Natural’s, as it always is.  Claudia and the young ladies are not from here, either, and know some of what gets thrown around, by some of the Pioneer Families and the faux elite.  I am at home there.  Sharlot Hall, one of the original pioneers, for whom Prescott’s Historical Museum is named, would spin in her grave  at the pretense and the snobbery.

No matter; I am here to serve those who need it and just have to put my lingering Impostor Syndrome and refugee mentality aside.  The people who accept me, and take me into their circle, are also from somewhere else.  These are the ones who matter.  They are the ones who make it all worthwhile. Home, for me, is a fluid term.