True Beauty

2

September 16, 2019-

Ric Ocasek died yesterday, peacefully in his sleep.  He and his band, The Cars, rekindled my interest in rock music, in 1978, after it had been rather put to sleep by the glam rock and proto-disco tunes of the mid-1970’s.  Ric was sometimes called “ungainly”, by certain wags.  He did, however, have a magnetism that drew women-most notably his wife of 29 years, Paulina Porizkova.  To her, he had true beauty, and that is what mattered most.

True beauty transcends gender, species and even Kingdom.  It can only emanate from the soul, through the spirit and be reflected by the body- in terms of actions, expressiveness and outward reflection of spiritual qualities.  A person with the plainest of countenances and the frumpiest of figures can be a human Hope Diamond.

Having only recently completely cast off the social baggage that comes with being raised in a society stoked on appearance, I find the appreciation of each human being, and each daily set of experiences, a liberating renewal of spirit.  In the course of transformation, it’s helped to encounter comely women who have turned out to have dark spirits, plain ladies with hearts of gold, men of saintly mien and plenty of people who have both physical and spiritual beauty-putting the latter kind of beauty first.

This gives me a sense of wonder, at all that lies ahead.

Full Moon Thirteenth

7

September 13, 2019-

Some topsy turvy day, this.

The work day was filled with

love and laughter.

Children with Downs syndrome

bring this about.

A crowded room,

at a ribbon cutting,

with children running about,

fully in joy and exuberance,

was better than any nap.

Another request for assistance,

from one of the most vicious people

I’ve ever known,

popped the balloon of joy.

It’s what that dark spirit does.

Am I a lesser soul,

for not putting myself at her disposal?

Prayers and chanting brought me back

to a place of light.

The power and fortitude of youth

imparts strength to those who

may be worn down, just a bit.

All in all, this Full Moon

Friday the Thirteenth

ended on a bright note.

Eighteen and Counting

5

September 11, 2019-

Growing up in the Boston area, I adopted a love/hate relationship with New York City.  It was largely the Red Sox/Yankees thing, then the Celtics/Knicks and, to a lesser extent, Patriots/Jets.  As a teen, my feelings towards the Big Apple became more nuanced.  No one with a pulse, in Red Sox Nation, was smug or indifferent, when the Yankees’ thirty-two year-old catcher, the great Thurman Munson, was killed whilst practicing piloting his small plane, in August, 1979.  Slightly more than ten years later, many felt bad at the accidental death of Billy Martin, a guy Bostonians loved to hate.  Martin had been the on-again, off-again manager of the Yankees and loved tormenting the Sox.  That did not lessen the pain of his dying on Christmas night, 1989.

My first visit to  New York was transitory, whilst traveling between Washington and Boston, at Christmas, 1969.  I went from Penn Station to La Guardia, then finally to Grand Central, before settling on a bus that got me, fairly cheaply, to Boston.  I remember being teased by a couple of prostitutes, in the subway, almost getting gouged by a ticket agent at La Guardia, and not a whole lot else.

Six years later, I drove a couple of friends from UMass-Amherst, down to Manhattan, and visited some former hotel restaurant customers of mine.  It was actually a very nice weekend,  Friday night and Saturday, in the Chelsea neighbourhood.  I visited Bronx Zoo, on that Sunday morning, and was delighted at how quiet the area was.   Yes, I also walked by Yankee Stadium afterward, because-Hey, why not?

Penny was a fan of all things NYC, so we spent a couple of days in Central Park and along the waterfront, when visiting her parents in nearby New jersey. I hung out in Central Park, solo, when attending an American Association of School Counselors convention, in 1984.  That was the last time, before 9/11/01, that I saw Manhattan intact.

I was getting some groceries, early that morning, in Phoenix.  As I got in the car to go home, and turned on the radio, the morning jock stated that someone had just flown a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center.  “Terrorist” hit my mind like a ton of bricks (no pun intended). Penny saw me walk in, crestfallen, i described what I’d heard, and we turned on the TV.  CNN had not picked up on the story, so it was business as usual from them and Penny got herself dressed for work, whilst Aram got ready for school.  I stayed glued to the screen, knowing that, eventually, a report would come on.  Ten minutes later, CNN caught on, and a Day of Infamy for our time played out in front of my eyes.

There were all manner of reports, mostly factual, with a fair amount of misinformation thrown in.   Reports came that the National Mall, the State Department, the Capitol, the White House, CIA Headquarters, the Sears Tower (Chicago) and downtown Los Angeles were being attacked. My mind pictured a latter day Orson Welles intoning “War of the Worlds”.  A French conspiracy theorist immediately began claiming this was all a hoax, using holograms, designed to instigate was with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.  He turned out to be partially right- Iraq, as well as the Taliban, became targets of the U.S. Military.  There were, however, no holograms.

The images coming out of lower Manhattan, and elsewhere in New York and New Jersey, were all too real, all too horrific.  I would later visit each of the sites impacted by the plane crashes of that eternal morning:  Shanksville, in 2009; Ground Zero, in 2013 and the Pentagon, in 2014.  What  I saw on that last visit convinced me that there was no hoax.  Metal fragments and burnt soil remain, here and there, at the Memorial Park.  Ground Zero has impacted thousands of people, many of whom are still suffering.  Shanksville’s residents, including the farmer on whose property the plane came down, bear uniform witness to the event that forever changed their lives.

Eighteen years later, there remain many questions, but no doubt as to the fact that  the innocence of two generations was shattered on that Latterday of Infamy.

 

 

The Flow

2

September 6, 2019-

On any given day, I wake between five and six.

On any given day, I tap into an energy flow,

which tells me what I must do that day.

At any given moment,

there is a task,

which may, or may not,

involve payment.

At any given moment,

there is a sense of urgency,

for what is best done then and there.

With any given person,

there is a special element of his/her presence,

that calls for a certain degree of my presence.

With any given person,

there is a gift that is imparted,

that calls for my own gift, in return.

Tonight, I visited with one whom I regard

as my best friend,

and exchanged the gifts of heartfelt discourse.

This week, I have spent time with

members of my circle of honour,

and likewise have given and received

abundant presents of the Spirit.

 

On Justice

4

September 1, 2019-

“O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.”- Baha’u’llah

I spent much of the day today, pondering the operational definition of justice.  Baha’u’llah is writing about Divine Justice, which takes into consideration all sides of an issue, instantaneously.

That, of course, is something that takes a lot longer for us mortals.  We have different ideas, based on the particular doctrine or interpretation of Scripture, as to what Divine Justice even means.  How much more does the meaning of everyday justice find wildly different viewpoints, largely dependent on one’s life experiences and view of the world.

What triggered this was my having been followed, closely, by another motorist this afternoon, whilst running some errands downtown.  Traffic was unusually heavy for a Sunday, and Driver A was on the verge of road rage, over the spillover effect of traffic bunched up, through two lights.  I, being immediately in front of him, caught a long horn blast, two seconds after the light had turned green and whilst I was waiting to turn left.  Prescott’s left turn arrows are few and far between, so I had to wait for oncoming traffic to pass, which infuriated him even more.  He followed me to my next left turn, then leaned on the horn again, when I was waiting for yet another care to pass straight ahead. Then, he decided to go straight himself, and the air was peaceful once more.

Which was the justice, and for whom?  I grew up with my Dad, some uncles and my driving instructor telling me that there is seldom a black and white, when it comes to traffic.  The seemingly brash and rude driver gets his/her attitude from somewhere-ranging from an inbred sense of entitlement (actually quite rare, even today) to a very real amount of pressure-from a spouse, from an employer or client, from a participant in our appointment-driven society or from society-at-large.  The people going straight were going by a centuries-old, universally-accepted tradition of traffic flow, as was yours truly.  The belligerent Driver A was just pushing an envelope, which the rest of us could not fathom.

Justice, then, can’t immediately be understood by one and all.  It takes what my mother instilled in us: The pondering of other people’s circumstances and, to a point, willingness to make adjustments to our own behaviour.  I thought of this point as well, after a local resident was beaten by a man who demanded she give him cash or phone cards.  The case is winding its way through the justice system, and has made its way to social media.  As these two elements of modern life are frequently at odds, you can imagine the status of the investigation.  Everything, from women’s rights to fair treatment of the homeless, factors into such a case.

As we move forward, perhaps seeing justice for what it really is, the end product of love, would be a good place to start.

Dribs and Drabs

9

August 29, 2019-

It’s been a fine week, so far.  I just feel like making a few random observations, today.

The National Weather Service has one forecast for Prescott, from now til October:  Sunny and warm.  The skies, though, have their own ideas.  One area, or another, of Yavapai County has had a fairly good soaking, the past few days.  This is what is most likely to continue.

A few shout-outs to local residents:

My Red Cross volunteer partner, Jenn Winters-Ashcraft, has largely been the force behind our finally canvassing homes in western Yavapai, for working smoke alarms. This endeavour will compete with substituting, on my own schedule.  Money aside, it’s academic (no pun intended) as to which is more important for our community.

Mr. Matt Williams is spearheading the clean-up of an abandoned homeless encampment along Prescott’s main waterway, Granite Creek.  Yours truly is part of that, as well.

The Boars Head girl, at Sprouts, offered us kids a fine deal on cold cuts & cheese, so I have had four days’ lunches all covered, for a reasonable price.

A variety of workers, across business fields, are holding down the fort in this season of high heat, for their less heat-tolerant colleagues.  I have seen this in at least a dozen places, this week.

When someone is uncomfortable in another person’s presence, it falls to that other person to give the uneasy one some space.

The Epstein Horror Project is finished, kaput-but the victims will long need the support of every decent human being.

The Amazon Basin Horror Project, it seems, is just getting started.  Sorry, but there is no comparison between the willful decimation of a global resource and the accidental spark that set Notre Dame Cathedral alight.  The very farmers being sent to do this dirty work are bound to be among its first victims.

I look forward to a weekend of celebration. God bless the workers whose efforts are tantamount to acts of worship.

Summer is almost, “officially”, over.  Friends, don’t worry about wearing white after Monday.  We have at least three weeks of heat left.

 

 

Gathering My Moss

0

August 28, 2019-

I have, at long last, begun writing a series of chapters that outline my life. So far, I have covered up to sixth grade, which has taken four chapters.  I find my long term memory is amazingly intact, a comforting discovery, as this exercise is as much for healing and inner peace, as it is for the sake of memoir.

The remaining six decades will take some time, being as they have been far more involved and take in a lot more territory-both geographic and psychological- than my first, somewhat sheltered, eleven years.

As it is a highly personal account, this volume will be first shared with family, then in a publish on demand arrangement with friends. For now, I am keeping it on Google Drive and will run things by my son, siblings and mother, once I get to a certain point, probably the sections on my high school graduation and transition into adulthood.

Again, the purpose of this is to process and clear up any remaining conflicts within myself, which is one of the insights I drew from a recent energy wave healing session.

The Shift

2

August 25, 2019-

It’s been long in coming,

this being able to empty my mind,

and to sit, just taking in the stillness.

It’s been so much the focus of longing,

this being able to go about and not

have a thousand thoughts and scenarios

distracting me from what is here and now.

It’s such a relief,

to be with people and not concern myself

with the superfluous,

with how people look,

but rather to focus on how they are,

and of what they dream.

Stillness, presence and depth of character

cannot be forced,

as someone tried to do with me,

last autumn.

They must be brought out

by love, by patience, by a sense of balance.

Better

2

August 24, 2019-

The father of one of the 19 Wildland Firefighters who died in the 2013 Yarnell Hill fire, gave me a wristband that his son had devised, shortly before his death, that said, simply, “Be Better”.  Andrew used this to remind himself, and his loved ones, to strive daily for self-improvement.  So, I am deeply honoured that I should have this wristband to wear.

I have also had this as my motivating force, climbing out of various ruts and working to treat those around me with ever more consideration and equanimity, especially over the past eight years.  Every so often, I slip.  We all do.  The wristband will help remind me to not let any provocation set me on a downward path.

This brings me to the natural inclination that we have, to attack what we don’t understand, perhaps thinking that, if there is enough vehemence in one’s voice, the “bad guy” will go away.  This is a much more tightly-connected world than in the days of White and Black Hats.  Those we fear and loathe tend to hang out on the fringes, rather than just disappearing.

So, improving oneself  not only takes on an increased urgency, it also serves as a beacon for even those who regard us with loathing.  “Be Better” does not draw a concrete trench  between us; it beckons us to resolve that which stands between us.

It is no secret that I have friends across the political spectrum, standing only against bullying and violent, excluding behaviour.  A person’s viewpoint is always subject to being challenged; but it is theirs to explain, and to hold, and hopefully to expose to new information.

I learned that one of my more politically conservative friends passed away, at a very young age, a few days ago.  I will miss our sharing of visits to Indiana Dunes and her accounts of the beauty of Brown County, in the south central part of Indiana,  and I will miss her keen mind, while remembering that my more moderate views on things Federal did not always sit well with her.  Being better, though, always resonated with A, even as it does with several of  her fellow conservatives and many of my more liberal and progressive friends.

One needs no one’s agreement, or permission, to work on oneself, after all.

The Price of Cancellation

2

August 17, 2019-

I read, this morning, about Sarah Silverman’s having had a role canceled, by a director who was furious that she had done a Blackface skit-sometime in the 1990’s.  It turns out that the skit was a parody of someone else doing Blackface, and that it was intended as a cautionary message to people, not to do likewise.  Undeterred, the Red Queen of a director maintained the ‘majesty’ of that decision.

We have run amok, with the notion that an offense, however real or imagined, is sufficient to remove a person from one’s social circle, employment or from society itself, for that matter.  Criticizing a move by the Israeli government, apparently makes one an anti-Semite (never mind that Arabs, who usually end up wearing that label, are themselves Semites, as are, of course, Jews).  Having a discourse with one’s political or philosophical opposites makes one “dangerous to society” (I’ve seen this behaviour from both the political Right and Left.)  Now, comes the film-making community, with the search, flashlight in hand, for ANYTHING in a performer’s past that violates a narrow code of acceptable conduct.

People, rightfully, note signs and behaviours of late, that remind them of pre-World War II Germany and Italy.  These do need to be called out.  Case in point: A person driving a truck into a crowd of protesters is NOT exercising his rights, under the law.  At the very least, he is acting as a vigilante,  At worst, he is committing an act of domestic terror.

Dismissing those, with whom we disagree, from the realm of existence, though. is a slippery slope.  We have a prime example of this:  The French Revolution.  It was a far more complicated mess, of course, but the dehumanization of those who are of opposite persuasions  almost always ends with the opposite of what was originally intended.

So, I think of my present life.  There are two people who have verbally threatened me, over the past three years.  I have taken steps to ensure they are of no further consequence in my life- but they are certainly free to live their own lives, without my hectoring or interference.  I disagree, strongly, with several people on certain issues.  To carry on and try to deprive them of  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be ludicrous.

We go on, and hopefully will do two things:  1. Carefully review and verify any report of a public outrage (i.e. the false report of people dousing a reporter with quick-drying cement, in Portland, several weeks ago).  2. Remind self that, in a world created by a Higher Power, one’s own likes and dislikes do not necessarily need to be indulged by the Universe.

Cancellation is always an option, and it comes with a price.