Beyond “Me, Too”

6

October 17, 2017, Prescott-

Once upon a time, I bought into some, but not all, of the idea that people ought to objectify, idealize, the opposite gender.  This was held true for men and women alike.  The physique was the primary initial attracter, with social skills and hygiene the glue that secured a person’s place, in the eyes of an opposite number.

Mom told me to look for a person of substance.  The intellect was important, and a wide range of interests.  She said that a comely, but shallow, person would not last long in our family- falling away by attrition, not by any malice that would be directed at her. I’ve noticed this has continued, through the four marriages of my siblings and me, the seven marriages of my nieces and nephews, the engagement of my youngest niece and the solid relationship of my son and his lady friend.  Terra Firma has lent herself to our support.

In my post-marital years, there have been a few emotional rough patches.  That comes with the territory.  They have, however, lifted me up and out of the stinky swamp of residual objectification.  By keeping this thing, in the back of my mind, about viewing women in relational terms, I was also objectifying myself.  The current sturm und drang over Hollywood’s sexual predators has had what I consider a bright silver lining.  Women are free to raise the roof, over the long-standing, callous disregard for their total being.  It’s as old as the rise of homo sapiens sapiens, and it’s past time that men, freely and in their own space, create a mindset, a heartset, that truly measures a woman, first and foremost, by her interests, goals and dreams.

I have the privilege, and honour, of working with two dynamic, highly intelligent and personable women, one happily married.  Both are young enough to be my daughters, but no matter.  The success of a team is driven by professional chemistry, with social bonding being of secondary importance.  In that regard, our little team is solid and focused on the well-being, first of our students, then of one another.

I have a further honour : A wealth of friendships, both on and offline.  This drum has been beaten many times before, and I shall not belabour it again.  Suffice it to say, my friendships are neither spurred by physical attraction, nor negated by it.  Each of my friends’ hopes and dreams matter to me, greatly, regardless of any of their personal or physical attributes.  That means dignity comes first.

The antics of celebrity lechers are hitting a brick wall.  May each one of us view ourselves through a lens of accountability and resolve to move further, towards this thing called purity.

Vignettes, but No Pictures

8

October 11, 2017, Silver City-

I am intending to get to bed shortly, so as to wake up in time for a 2.5 hour drive to Gila Cliff Dwellings.  So, there will be no photos of Besh Ba Gowah or the Gila Wilderness, for a day or two.

I do want to mention a few people I have met, over the past two days.  There was a little girl, about 3, who expressed concern about the bandaid on my left facial cheek.  I have it to guard a sun blister that is slowly healing.  No explanation was needed, but her concern was priceless.  Another little girl greeted me this morning, as I went to my car for an item.  She was pleased that I was on vacation, like she was.

At the Slow Food Prescott meeting, last night, I was able to invite three couples to our upcoming observance of the Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth, on Oct. 22.  It takes a lot for me to offer invitations, and two of them were accepted graciously, with the third being rather hesitant, but taking it anyway.  More importantly, a Convergence event was announced at this meeting.  It will be held from November 10-12, which I can attend for at least two days- and with some negotiation and calendar tweeking, three days.  There will be an all-nighter, on the last night, ending at 8 AM, 11/13.  Work the next day, of course, will keep me from that part.

When I got to Superior, I had to bang on the window to get the resident manager’s attention- no doorbell, and the phone is in the office.  It took ten minutes, but I got in my reserved room.  Tonight, in Silver City, my initial room had a dead magnetic strip, and a broken faucet handle in the bathroom, so I got a different room and a discount on top of a discount.

At Tammy’s Cafe, in Buckhorn, NM, this evening, the grill was overloaded, so it took several of us close to 40 minutes to get our meals.  The staff, though, is incredibly energetic, attentive,  and gracious.  No one is idle.  The food was marvelous, worth the wait.

In the meantime, I had a lengthy conversation with a young ranch hand, named Jason, who gave me a wealth of information about Gila Cliff Dwellings, Casa Malpais (in Springerville, AZ) and various cliff dwellings on both private and county land, between Silver City and Springerville.  Tammy, the cafe owner and one of her waitresses were also full of information on the prehistoric remnants of the area.

It’s always a good day, when I feel open to connecting with new people.

 

 

Colombo

4

October 9, 2017, Prescott-

Synchronicity leads to triage.  A meeting that I cannot miss, tomorrow night, has delayed my brief jaunt over to Gila Cliff Dwellings, until Wednesday morning.  This will be just fine, though it takes me away from other meetings, Wednesday and Thursday nights.  As long as I’m back, to take care of a key task on Friday, it’s all good.  Besides, driving down and over to Superior on Tuesday night, after the gathering, will be easy enough.

Now then:  Today is celebrated by those of  Italian descent, across the United States, as Columbus Day..  Others among our countrymen point out that Columbus’ track record, with regard to the Indigenous people of the Caribbean Basin and Rim, was hardly deserving of special honours.

A contemporary of Columbus, Bartolomeo de las Casas, himself a defender of indigenous peoples’ rights, says of the Admiral :  He was “more than middling tall; face long and giving an air of authority; aquiline nose, blue eyes, complexion light and tending to bright red, beard and hair red when young but very soon turned gray from his labors; he was affable and cheerful in speaking […] A forgiver of injuries, [he] wished nothing more than that those who offended against him should recognize their errors, and that the delinquents be reconciled with him.”

Columbus did concur with slaughtering cannibals, among the Caribs of Dominica, after seeing graphic evidence of their torture of both Taino and Spaniard.  He reported, but did not practice, the sexual enslavement of young Taino girls.  For this last, and other “crimes against the Spanish”, his opponents, Bobadilla and Roldan, sought Columbus’ removal. Although Roldan later reconciled with Columbus, Bobadilla persisted, and eventually saw to the Admiral’s removal and imprisonment.  Much of the present-day condemnation of Christopher Columbus comes from “evidence” cited  by Bobadilla, who was himself a severe persecutor of indigenous people, though his own rule over Santo Domingo proved ineffective and was, therefore, very brief.

Having said this, I am not sure what merit Columbus has, for the honours heaped upon him, as “discoverer of America”.  He never set foot on American soil, other than Puerto Rico, which has its own history and sovereignty, separate from that of the United States of America.  He was, by his own admission, not the first European to set foot in North America (having visited Iceland and heard the descriptions of “Vinland”, from that country’s residents).

Like many of our holidays, Columbus Day has become about us. In this case, it has become about proud Italian-Americans  marching in parades and honouring their rich heritage.  That heritage includes, among other things, the fact that our hemisphere’s two continents are named for one of Columbus’s contemporaries:  Amerigo Vespucci, a cartographer.  Columbus himself is honoured, decently enough, by places being named for him, from the capitals and largest cities of Ohio and South Carolina, to Canada’s westernmost province (albeit by way of Lewis and Clark having named the Columbia River after him).

People change at a glacial pace, so I expect Columbus Day, and the parades, will be around for some years yet.  It doesn’t much matter, here in Arizona, save for the banks and post offices being closed.  We tend to pay more mind to those important to this area’s heritage.  So, by and large, the sensibilities of Native Americans loom larger, and Columbus is more a figure of curiosity and of academic study.

There Is Perfection, In A Day

6

October 8, 2017, Prescott-

I am, in a manner of speaking,

taking the day off.

There was breakfast at the Legion,

this morning,

followed by laundry,

a phone conversation about

spiritual study, and

clearing this trusty laptop,

of old downloads.

It’s mid-afternoon

and the air is clear,

so I will, shortly,

head for a local trail

and indulge my legs,

my knees

and my back,

which have had

Planet Fitness,

the back yard,

the school gym and track

and little else,

to engage them,

these past few months.

Then, I will finish

my clearing the back yard

and pamper my back,

at Planet Fitness.

Be back, soon.

 

Break Time

6

October 6, 2017, Prescott-

It’s Fall Break, from now until October 16- when we return to our labour of love and our lead teacher has a birthday.  In between, there is a balance of rest and motion. I have a service jaunt to Flagstaff, bright and early tomorrow morning, to help install smoke detectors in several units of a large modular home development.  Sunday will be a day of rest- until it isn’t.  Monday, I head down to Superior,  reconnect with the SunFlour  people and maybe hike Picketpost Mountain.  Beyond that is time in Globe,  then across to Safford, Silver City and Gila Cliff Dwellings, before getting back here, sometime Wednesday evening.  There will then be two days of relative rest, before Saturday the Fourteenth, when everything seems to be happening at once.  More details will be in order about that, later.

Anyway, it’s good to change the channel and replenish, every so often.

 

After The Blood Harvest

6

October 3, 2017, Prescott Valley-

I attended a small candlelight vigil, this evening, at a Lutheran Church on this town’s near north side.  About a dozen people prayed and lit special candles for the victims of the October 1 mass murder in Las Vegas.

I will be processing this horrific event for some time.  Along with smaller, but no less terrible, if personalized, events happening within my small circle, the Las Vegas massacre  has given October an ominous start.  October is a month traditionally devoted to harvest, in the Northern Hemisphere, and planting, in the South of the planet.

The killer, who may, or may not, have had help and encouragement from as far away as the Philippines, left no obvious motive for his mayhem.  We are only left to speculate, which is ever a perilous thing, in and of itself.

The motives of a person, within my neighbourhood, who has taken in recent days to harassing the family of my departed next door neighbour, are much clearer.  He sees them as something of a threat to the value of his property.  This has led him to taunting them, in the midst of their grief.  I am hoping, and praying, that this state of affairs will be resolved peacefully.

Yet, therein lies a key to the entirety of crimes against humanity, large and small.  The enemy, as I said last night, is anonymity.  Many believe, with Robert Frost, that “Good fences make good neighbours”.  While a measure of privacy is good for each of us, in the course of a day, there is a fine line between that reasonable privacy and anonymity.  No one seems to know much about the Las Vegas killer.  No one knew much about others of his ilk, either, from John Wayne Gacy, through Ted Bundy and Gary Tison, to the ISIS-inspired killers in San Bernardino, Brussels and Manchester.

I am a relatively quiet man, who has lived alone for the past six years.  This could very easily lead to people concluding that I am a threat to their safety, especially if I were to maintain a reclusive lifestyle.  Indeed, there are a few restaurants in my town where I am not welcome, when dining alone.  Thus, for the broader sake of becoming familiar to my neighbours, as well as for my own sense of well-being, I have chosen to be active in certain community groups.  It also helps that I have no hidden agenda or any particular mental health issues, unless one regards my mild autism as such.

The latest national tragedy will only see the silver lining of reconciliation, if we as a nation begin to recognize that anonymity and excessive guardedness are what got us into this mess, in the first place.

Loves of a Life

8

September 30, 2017, Flagstaff-

I told an old friend that Penny has been gone,

for six years.

He spends lots of time,

off the grid.

So, he missed all that’s happened to us,

since 1997.

Twenty years have come and gone,

and he is a loving husband and father.

I was the former, and am still the latter.

After leaving this generous man,

and his fine facility,

lent us for our Baha’i gathering,

I turned on my laptop.

I went to cbs.com,

and selected

the most recent episode

of “Blue Bloods”.

In this one, it’s revealed

that a man has lost

his wife,

in a helicopter crash.

He wants to turn inward,

shut the world out.

He has two teenage sons,

to finish raising.

His family,

and the Universe,

conspire to keep him

afloat.

Today would have been

her 63rd birthday.

I told an old friend.

Bacchanal

10

September 29, 2017, Prescott-

There was a man who said he loved women.

His idea of love was tied, tightly, with sexuality.

Sexuality was tied, tightly, with freedom of choice.

Freedom of choice was underpinned by epicureanism,

hedonism, the idea that life is for the living.

His idea became a machine that went of itself,

and would not stop,

even when he was getting tired,

on many levels.

He became a caricature of his younger self.

Young women thought of him,

and were sickened.

Older women looked back on the Bacchanal,

and wished they had been part of it.

He showed me, and many men my age,

what a woman with perfect features

would look like, in an airbrushed photograph.

Many of us bought into it, month by month.

Then, little by little, we met real beautiful women.

My love was never airbrushed;

her perfection was never unnatural.

She was as bright a sunrise,

as any the Fife of Finery could have conjured.

She was my sunrise, alone,

and I hers.

Our merriment was measured.

Our love was underpinned,

by a God who knew no Bacchanal.

There was a man who said he loved women.

 

Sadratu’l- Muntaha

10

September 27, 2017, Prescott-

NOTE:  The title term refers to a tree, planted at a terminus of a road, in ancient Arabia.  It could signify either an ending or a beginning.

What, exactly, is a barrier?

Which is the beginning, and which, the ending?

I recall that every walk around Saugus began at our back door.

So, too, did every journey end there.

My formal education began in September, 1956, at the Felton School.

It ended in August, 1987, when I completed my administrative credential, at Northern Arizona University.

My time as a Roman Catholic began with my baptism.

It ended with my declaration as a member of the Baha’i Faith.

Now, I live in an apartment, in Prescott, Arizona; work as a teacher aide, at Prescott High School; am a devoted adherent to the Teachings of Baha’u’llah.

Do I still consider Saugus a place in my heart?

Am I still learning?

Do I still revere Jesus the Christ?

In each case, the answer will always be “Yes”.

Will I not again travel?

Will I close my mind to new ideas?

Will I turn aside from the Creator?

In each case, “No”.

What, exactly, is a barrier?

It occurs to me, that each barrier is a self-imposed ending.

 

Cherish the Lessons

4

September 26, 2017, Prescott-

All my life,

I have practiced honesty,

as my place on the spectrum,

has never let me

sweep anything under the carpet.

So, I  have let things out

about what I’ve done,

and taken my lumps

or, as has been the case lately,

taken the lessons

behind the admonitions.

If we view correction

as savaging,

then debilitation results.

If it is seen as pushing

one upwards,

then strength happens.

So, today’s meeting,

with lovingly issued

advisement,

accompanied by solid

background information,

was a textbook example,

of how any issue

can be resolved.

It all comes down to will,

or the lack thereof.