The True Rewards

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February 19, 2021-

So many times, on a job that pans out over several days, there are twists and turns, taking me to as many as five task-sites in the span of a day. That sort of regimen makes the work interesting and impacts several children, in a meaningful way.

Today, I completed four days in a medium-sized elementary school, mostly working with younger special needs students, one-on-one. For the most part, the work involved helping one or two students with routine academic tasks and increasing their sense of well-being. These children appreciated the efforts and were uniformly pleasant people, with whom to work.

Two others, who had been out the first three days, came back today-making for a full classroom. These two students, both mute and somewhat unsettled, somehow were comforted by my presence- and were far more amenable to following my cues and gestures than those of the regular staff.

Silent communication often allows for more bonding -especially when a troubled person senses that another inherently understands his or her essential difficulties. The two students essentially latched onto me, with little spoken communication on my part. Just seeing them focus on following rules, and want to gravitate towards my direction, was a reward equally as meaningful as the achievements of their classmates.

This may well be the last work I do with elementary level behaviorally-challenged students-as the project with which I have agreed to help, for 1 1/2 months, this spring, is primarily a literacy enhancement effort. I appreciate that my presence is valued, by educators and students, and will take their support with me, for the rest of my days. This is the true reward of being in the arena of service to children.

(In)tractible-Part II

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February 14, 2021-

The earnest young man got ahead of himself, demanding that his financial problems be addressed, immediately, by those whom he saw as being well-off and comfortable in thier own lives. This went on, for nearly two years, as one potential benefactor, after another, turned away.

The imbalance between one group of people and another, whether it be a matter of money, food, water or, in this present environment, medical supplies to defeat COVID-19 is the single overarching matter facing humanity-and has been for several centuries now. It is viewed by many as a nuisance, a bore, something intractible.

It is my position that things become viewed as intractible largely because of the human impulse to want a matter resolved immediately, if not sooner, that one may move on to the next matter. I get this, very clearly. We are hard-wired as a species to move along and accomplish new and better. We are also, however, hard-wired to notice when others are left behind. This awareness rankles one’s conscience.

There is, simply put, nothing that nettles most people more than being asked for money. We are raised to share food, drink and even clothing with our siblings and those in our neighbourhoods. Money is an entirely different matter- perhaps because of insecurity, as to its possibly running out. So, the homeless, the destitute, the demanding are are seen as impediments, rather than as fellows.

The second seemingly intractible issue, from which many wish to turn away, is the continual persecution and conflict in certain parts of the world, particularly in west Asia. Religion is often blamed for this, but religion is simply a codification of man’s belief in a Higher Power. It has given us a single thread of rules for proper conduct, with the changes in social practice evolving as Mankind itself has evolved. That certain groups have continued to fight and contend with one another, in some cases for millennia on end, is not the fault of the Higher Power, but of the leadership and members of those groups. They are not, inherently, any more or less capable of getting along than are any other groups of people.

These two seemingly intractible issues reflect two phenomena: A lack of systematic process for equitable distribution of goods (food, clothing, water, medicine-and money) and a paralysis of the will to do the hard work, over time, that is needed to resolve deep-seated conflict. Fortunately, there is a shift in the consciousness of many on the planet-and an increase in the number of people in the process of finding and implementing solutions.

Nothing put before us needs to be seen as intractible.

Dereliction

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February 6, 2021-

There are many people still in my life, and several causes that seek attention. I gather that this is true of just about everyone. The question then arises: Is there a point at which being oneself and prioritizing one cause, or group of people, over another constitutes dereliction of duty?

Being an empath, I feel other people’s energy very strongly. That doesn’t explain the underlying reasons for that energy. Only the person feeling it can divulge those. I feel it even more so, when the energy is collective. So, to all those who have expressed the view that a person ought commit to one organization, activity or community, I say godspeed. I will help each organization as alignment allows. My own energy focus allows for a modicum of time spent in virtual meetings- knowing that, as with any human endeavour, there are those who would be on Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, 24/7-and again, godspeed to them. My greater energy, though, is spent away from the computer.

For the time being, that is, for the next two weeks, my priority is helping a couple of schools in dealing with COVID-related staff shortages. Some time will be spent on Red Cross classes, and with a small, but spirited, group of college students who are earnestly planning sustainability activities. There is also the 50% chance that jury duty will transpire, towards the end of this month.

Dereliction of duty is clearly defined, when it comes to parenting, supervision of children in a school setting or service in the public realm. It is less clear, when it comes to the matters of those generally self-sustaining adults who are suffering emotionally or spiritually. This gray area is also on my mind and in my heart, and occupies some of my time, on a case by case basis. Thankfully, most such people are appreciative of any time and energy that others give, as it at least validates that their situation is important to someone.

Keeping the Fire

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January 29, 2021- One of the things about the pandemic is that those of us who are officially retired from work are still needed in our professions. This is the sort of thing which happens, especially to nurses and physicians, but also to teachers, EMTs and a variety of people in supporting roles. So, I have gone in, to cover for those sidelined by COVID-19, those who have pandemic-related medical appointments and a few other situations.

One of the features of working with children, in the present environment particularly, is what I see as the need to encourage young people to stand their ground, to speak their truth clearly and not be cowed by any attempts, by ANYONE, to intimidate them into letting go of what they know is deserved. This does not mean that a child should be taught to act in an unbridled and irresponsible manner.

When a person, of any age, does speak the truth to a situation, it is the mark of authenticity, for anyone who hears that truth, to have the speaker’s back. In this school, particularly, those who have stood up and insisted, properly, that matters be handled a certain way have been my greatest allies and have made all the difference between the good days I have had and days that might have gone off the rails.

Even in the rough-edged years, of the 2000s, I still recall those forthright children whose outspoken and compassionate manners bridged the gap between my shakiness and being able to pull things together , not wasting the class’s time. With all to which this generation of students is being asked to endure, that forthrightness, that fortitude that flame, needs to be enkindled more than ever before.

I remain on call, for this, and other acts of community service.

The Big Snow

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January 25, 2021- The heaviest snow we have seen, since 12/24/2018, arrived late last night, and has continued for most of today. It is expected to go on, until about Noon, tomorrow. As I write this, the white stuff is indeed coming down, in robust fashion.

I grew up, in eastern Massachusetts, with snow being a staple of our winter experience, from mid-December to early March. As with many people, I recall snowdrifts being as tall as, or taller than, my ten-and eleven-year-old self.

I recall reading about the Great Blizzard of 1967, when President Johnson sent military food and fodder drops to the Navajo, Ute and Hopi Nations-and the Southwest was blanketed with snow for days. In 1978, I lived in Bangor, Maine and experienced the three-day blizzard, when it was possible, for those so inclined, to cross-country ski in downtown. I also found myself stuck in Skowhegan, Maine, one snowy February night, and blew off the early morning alarm, only to wake to clear blue skies and scrambling to call in “sick” to my workplace, some thirty miles away. In the mid-1980s, setting out in light snow, from the Navajo community of Tuba City, the storm followed three of us, clear to Tucson, with snow even on the streets of downtown Phoenix. In December, 2000, Aram and I were pursued by a snowstorm, from Roanoke, VA to El Paso, as we took a route across the Deep South, with a view towards avoiding winter weather.

Snow can be fickle, but it also can be intense-and so it is, this evening-with accumulation in even lower-elevation areas of Yavapai County. I was to have gone in to two different COVID-relief school assignments, but Mother Nature simply said “Enough!” Instead, I went out, twice, and did some shoveling, as will likely be on the agenda tomorrow. That, too, is something that was a staple of my childhood-and Mom didn’t even need to ask- we just put on our boots and winter garments, and did it.

It is nice, for now, to have a throwback. Prayers, though, go to those who may have lost power, however temporarily, or who had to find shelter, rather quickly.

Walk Forward; Love All Life

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January 20, 2021- In the end, there were no Cabal Trials-and most likely, there is no Cabal, at least not the widespread, nefarious and nearly impregnable network. In the end, the 45th President of the United States took his ball, his fig leaf and whatever memorabilia he chose to bring with him, made two fairly benign speeches and left what his successor described as a “generous” letter, before taking what is likely his final ride on Air Force One, going to his rest haven in Florida.

The transition was well-guarded and peaceful. There was a gentle Inaugural Address from the 46th President, not rambling and with only a few stumbles in pronunciation. I doubt I’ve have done any better. It was essentially what the nation and the world needed to hear. There were heartfelt, well-delivered prayers. A widely popular Country & Western singer offered “Amazing Grace”. An equally popular Pop singer served up “This Land Is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful”. A gifted singer, who once opted for the outrageous in her performances, gave a stellar rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. The youngest prominent American poet in decades, gave a heartfelt recitation, as our first National Poet Laureate.

What does not change is the need to examine major issues facing the country from all legitimate angles. The environment is not immune from human influence. Some aspects of climate change are cyclical and would be catastrophic, regardless of the levels of pollution and wanton degradation. There is, however, much that we can, and should, do to safeguard our planet-and by extension, our solar system. Personal attention to conservation begins, as the late John McCain once said, at home. Recycling, in an era of concern for its cost, is tricky, but still must be consistently endeavoured. Water is an essential part of any community development, and requires careful usage, particularly in areas beset by drought. Air quality is likewise a key concern.

Our dietary health is essential. Despite claims from large corporations involved in genetic modification of foods, and their pop culture shills on television and social media outlets, human beings are not meant to subsist on a diet of monocultural crops, nor are such commodities helpful in soil conservation. A wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, consumed with or without a modest amount of meat, and preferably grown organically, represent the best regimen for disease-free living.

No human being capable of thought and reason deserves to be deprived of the right to make decisions which affect life and well-being. Women inherently have the right to decide what happens with their bodies. The issue can, and does, get messy when it comes to matters of sexuality and procreation. Education is the only path to informed choice, when it comes to abortion and the practice of circumcision (genital mutillation).

Each of the above issues has become fuzzy, due to the influence of deep-pocketed economic interests. Large corporations, such as Monsanto, and financially-driven nonprofits, such as Planned Parenthood, have exercised their influence, in promoting practices that are not necessarily carried out with the interests of individual human beings, including pre-born children, in mind. So, it falls to a widely-based coalition of citizens to build and carry out education programs that can counteract the propaganda of monetized interests.

The current administration has already shown concern for the environment. Its positions on the other two issues are less clear, thus pointing to the need for truly extending its path forward towards consideration for holistic health and the promotion of strong, healthy parents, children and families.

United and Independent

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January 16, 2021-

Today, my focus has been on two things: Sharing things I no longer need and attending to the unity of all life. I am presently reading Amalia Camateros’ “Spirit of the Stones”, an account of her life that focuses on her growth as an embodied soul and deep connection with the elements of Earth: Air, water, mineral and fire. Amalia is a native of Australia, whose primary connection with North America has been with Sedona, our sister city to the northeast.

In one chapter, she relates her most intense visit to Cathedral Rock, perhaps the most energy-laden of the Sedona area’s many vortices. She describes the promontory as appearing to be two souls, standing back to back-united and independent. The standing rocks are often described by those who have spent time on Cathedral Rock as representing a man and a woman- married, but also each their own person.

That set me to thinking: I was in such a marriage, and when one of us needed the other most, we were inseparable. No pun intended, we were one another’s rock. I am seeing more married adults, among my circle of friends, celebrating their spouses. This is a reverse of what I used to see, from the ’90s into the 2010s, though I know many will reply: “I’ve always been in love with my spouse.” There was more bickering, not so many years ago, and I sense that, with life hard enough as it is, people are realizing what matters most in life.

There is also a rise in the understanding that each human being is a unique soul and that there is no ownership of one by another. Even the use of “my”, in reference to a spouse, or even a child, is fading. Not that many years ago, I was taken to task for using the term “my wife”. The critic was right, though not for the reason he gave (“Only a misogynist would claim to own a woman”). No one owns anyone else, period. It has nothing to do with a person’s psychosexual baggage. Words do matter, though, and when rererring to one’s beloved, children or family members, it’s become my wont to use given names-as well as relationships- end of digression.

Getting back to the blend of unity and independence, the other revelation that came today was with regard to the process of global unity. It must come from the ground up. No downwardly imposed world order will last long. As a community is only as strong as its families, so a planetary order will depend on strong individual nations, each committed to work with the others. This will largely depend, at least initially, on the human race taking the wisdom of the ancients and blending it with the native adaptability of children, in solving novel problems. (I saw this ability, this past week, with a new focus).

The days and months ahead will likely see a clash, of sorts, between those who favour the present, conventional ways of doing things and those who favour such a blend of knowledge, as is described above. There is, though, a new energy taking root.

The Pyramid

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January 15, 2021-

I closed my eyes during meditation, a few moments ago, and saw the image of a shining pyramid. The message came to me that I was positioned in the lower left angle of the pyramid, and those whose presence challenges me, were in the lower right angle. The Creative Force was at the pinnacle of the structure. I thought of all those who impose themselves in my life, with requests and comments that are just reasonable enough for me to not be inclined to dismiss them from this life. It occurs that this is part and parcel of wanting to be able to choose with whom I associate and to what extent.

The message further stated that such feelings on my part are merely a sign of mental fatigue, and that, if I don’t indulge those impulses, my mental stamina will get stronger. Those who seem to impose themselves on others are often coming from a place of serious abandonment issues, which have nothing to do with the people to whom they are attaching themselves now. Further, the message said- Look at what happened with Adolf Hitler, bruised and battered from childhood; in a different manner, this also seems to have happened with Donald Trump-and, in turn, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama- indeed many who have risen to prominence have overcome abandonment issues, but the scars have led to the less-laudatory apsects of their lives.

I draw some such people into my life, still-mainly children, but occasionally, severely scarred adults, as well. It has only been recently that I have gained a semblance of how to properly communicate with such adults, in a helpful manner. So, the Pyramid cautioned me, it is best to neither jump when summoned, nor to ignore them at length, but to set aside a few minutes and address their concerns in a succinct manner. If it is merely a message of routine greeting, return the courtesy and go on with my flow of activity.

Simple images, coming in a meditative state, can offer a lot of information.

Lifelong Learning

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January 14, 2021-

The forthright girl stood at the whiteboard, and explained the same concept, five times, before three of her classmates finally grasped what she was saying. Two very different styles of learning met, grappled with one another and, in the end, meshed.

It is instructive, and advisable, for adults to see, in real time, how children work out problems, step by step. Only in the meat of the solution process can one truly understand the heart and soul of another human being. Only by allowing a person to explain something, from his or her own point of view, without prematurely inserting one’s own input, can there be the beginnings of a bond.

I am, for all intents and purposes, retired from education. There is, however, this lingering, stagnant presence of cornonavirusdisease 2019. This pandemic will, probably for some months yet, continue to affect regular classroom teachers, as it has so many other walks of life. I am, to a certain extent, immune to the virus, and still have the energy to devote some of my time to the elevation and advancement of another magnificent generation. Alphas are given to showing far more patience with selves, surety as to their purpose in life and acceptance of differences, than the generations which came before them, as children. Perhaps it’s just the energy that envelops us all now, combined with the purity of the child. Maybe we are all evolving, and the children reap the benefits of being innocent and bathed in a greater cosmic energy.

In any event, I have been blessed, yet again, with a week’s chapter, in learning from watching others learn.

Sacred/Profane

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January 13, 2021-

The scene at the United States Capitol building today was, in terms of non-legislative presence, the opposite of what it was a week ago. Law enforcement, backed by a formidable National Guard presence, ensured that no one would interfere with the proceedings in the House of Representatives chamber. Capitol Police officers who may have shown questionable loyalty, last week, were nowhere in sight; their more resolute comrades held the front line- against adversaries who simply did not return.

I have read, and heard, several references to the Capitol as a sacred place, and as a repository of democratic values and practices, in many ways it is that. It is also a place where the most profane of deals have been struck. It was those unseemly affairs, done mostly in secret, which sparked a few (though not many) of the violent acts committed in the Capitol’s halls and chambers, on January 6.

Two wrongs, or a thousand, do not make a right. I approach grand public buildings and monuments, however, with respect, with reverence-even if there have been occasions when those in the buildings have committed acts worthy of reproach. Indeed, even when the initial premise behind the building’s construction has been questionable, I honour the larger context of its relevance to humanity. I am thinking here of The Alamo, the Spanish Missions, Yuma Territorial Prison and Forts McHenry & Sumter. Our grand Federal buildings and monuments, in the nation’s capital, were built largely with the labour of the enslaved. All, however, have elements of the sacred, which energy has served as a protection in the worst of times.

There is no human institution, no human being, who can reasonably claim to have never committed a profane act. Thus, it falls to each of us to find, and encourage, the angels of each other’s better nature-while bearing in mind the fallability that has shown its face, every so often.