Approaching

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January 16, 2022- I had a satisfying breakfast at Zeke’s, yesterday. I always have a satisfying breakfast at Zeke’s, once a week, when I’m at Home Base. I had a satisfying breakfast at American Legion Post 6, this morning. I most often have a satisfying breakfast at Post 6, each Sunday morning, when I’m here.

I had civil and mutually informative conversations, both days, with people who think differently from me, on a good many topics. We learned from one another, because we are not engaged in World War Ten against each other.

Years ago, I recall telling a pacifist friend that I was going to VietNam, to see for myself, what was going on there. It was the last conversation I ever had with him. Whilst protesting our involvement there, he adopted an authoritarian mindset. No other point of view could thus be entertained-or even approached.

All these years later, we as a society are headed in the same direction. On one side, we see a clamour for restriction on those who seek a more inclusive society. On the other side, we see a clamour for restriction, on those who seek a more restrictive society. In the end, each will get a leadership which will restrict everyone not in agreement with its agenda- unless we, the people wake up, become awakened– not “woke”, which is a verb tense, not an adjective.

Psychologists speak of approach/avoidance- a dichotomy in dealing with those people who, and situations which, are at variance with our own mindsets. Some people, such as a conman or grifter, are best set straight and then avoided, henceforth. Some situations, such as a riot, are best not joined-and are a good bet to be avoided. Then, there are those occasions, when a true lover of the human race moves towards the crisis, approaches those suffering or in need-and gives of self-especially of one’s strengths and capabilities. These could be natural disasters, acts of terror or a vulnerable person in need of protection.

When I contemplate how to respond to such events and situations, in the days, months and years ahead, I only ask the Creator, the Higher Power, to grant continuing strength-to approach all with a clear sense of love, fairness and justice-but above all, with the strength of discernment, to not fall victim to any preconceived notions, arising from the person’s stated beliefs or political leanings.

My Ley Lines

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January 15, 2022- To further elaborate on the topic discussed yesterday, it is worth considering the concept of ley lines. These are energy-based, invisible lines considered to be drawn between major landmarks and historic buildings. Places tapped as having vortices, like Sedona and Carnac, are often the focus of studies done on ley lines.

I rather think that the spiritual nature of humans allows the establishment of ley lines, energy connections between an individual and various places, which s(he) has either visited or to which there are distinct energy connections. My own such lines are of three sources: Ancestral and familial; faith-based and social (both real time and media-based).

The lines are between Home Base (Prescott, AZ), as this is where I am presently rooted and a number of locations related to the above-mentioned sources. In terms of ancestral and familial places I have visited, or in which I’ve lived, the lines connect to Rouen, Normandy (France); Montreal; Old Town, Maine; Saugus and Lynn, Massachusetts (running through Ashland ); Plattsburgh, NY; Philadelphia and its southeastern suburbs; Newnan, GA; Spring Hill, Florida; St. Louis; and the northwestern suburbs of Dallas.

Faith-based lines link with Wilmette, Illinois; The Navajo Nation (Dinetah); Hopi; Flagstaff; Phoenix; Macy, Nebraska; Wanblee, South Dakota; Standoff, Alberta (Canada); San Francisco; Salt Lake City; Carson City; Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Bath, Guyana; Jeju and Seoul, Korea; Tsaotun, Taiwan; London and Canterbury, England; Frankfurt-am-Main, Hesse (Germany); Haifa and Akko’, Israel.

There are a great many lines running to locations of a friend-based nature, of which a few may be mentioned here: San Diego; Santa Fe; Amarillo and Austin; Enid, Oklahoma; Memphis and Crossville, Tennessee; Mishawaka, Indiana; Kansas City; Hilton Head and Aiken, South Carolina; Harrisonburg and Virginia Beach, VA; Baton Rouge; Portland, Oregon; Tacoma, Washington; southeast Alaska; Toronto; Vannes, Bretagne and Luxembourg-Ville.

Perhaps the most crucial thing to remember about such ley lines is that, as the number of places to which the lines connect increase, the strength of their energy also grows. This is so, because spiritual energy is infinite. I look forward to such increases.

The Tendrils Do Not Fade

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January 14, 2022- The gentlemen and lady came onto a Zoom session, this evening, to speak of the history of Baha’i in their land, as the centennial of its arrival there had just been celebrated. I have alluded to our time there as well, on several occasions.

The influence of South Korea on my life cannot be minimized-especially given Aram’s birth there and his lifelong ties to both Korean and Japanese culture-accented by his marriage to Yunhee. I last went there, in 2019, for the religious ceremony that helped cement that marriage. The country has done quite well, materially, and has had a considerable influence, as well, on the the burgeoning global culture.

Connections I made there, had for the most part, seemed to have faded over the years. It was almost symbolic, when the plaque that Penny and I had been given, at the end of our work in Jeju, in 1992, fell off its stand and irreparably shattered, in 2017. It was not long after that, though, that Aram and Yunhee met. A more formidable, enduring bond was created.

The tendrils that remain between the Korean people and me are thus not going to be broken-and if anything, are one of the strongest threads that are connecting this one’s world. From those threads came ties to Hawaii, Taiwan, all parts of the U.S, and now to Albania, of all places, where a friend from our Jeju days has settled.

There are ties that keep me here-and those that will serve as a safety net, in many places far afield. It all started with a chance move to Korea, thirty-six years ago.

Uncrossing Wires

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January 13, 2022- I found myself carrying two rectangular baskets of groceries a short distance, to a friend who was down with a cold and thus away from her work. This small act, at the behest of her mother, who is also a good friend, took less than five minutes-but made her week food secure.

Earlier, the focus was different. Three missed phone calls had to be resolved. One was easy-corrected by an e-mail thread. A second, which took a bit longer, was necessitated by someone, in the phone queue ahead of me, dealing with the passing of a loved one. That is not at all hard for me to comprehend. Anyone dealing with grief needs wide latitude and a ton of compassion. The third, variously involving a robot greeter; two answering services-one Indian, the other Australian; and the actual scheduler, took five tries-before we managed to connect and get the task accomplished.

That brings me to the substance of the task. I had cleared my calendar for the month of March, and was in the planning stages of a trip to the Deep South. The schedule will be adjusted: Mid-March to mid-April, in order to tend to three very small procedures, each taking less than an hour, but spaced over a three-week period, by insurance regulations. Those three dates are a week apart, in the first half of March.

It is my one duty to self and family to tend to any health hiccups, early and systematically. The wires need to remain uncrossed.

Overthinking

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January 12, 2022- Perfect tries its hardest to be the enemy of good. One of our highest public officials is always warning us that any efforts to improve the access of citizens, to the mechanism of voting, will only draw the wrath of “the other side”, when they “inevitably” return to power, in an undesignated future time. Therefore, in the view of this individual, things should be kept as they are. This is unlikely, as there are many ways to secure voting rights for all legal citizens, which do not require said public official’s approval.

Yesterday, I was cautioned to not let a certain child anywhere near me, as I would be sure to get bitten. This never happened, as my advance caution to her, even with regard to herself, “No biting”, was enough.

For several years, I also held back from taking action on certain matters, with the idea that more harm would come to me and my loved ones, should I take any action. The stagnation that resulted has spoken for itself.

Measured and well-considered action, on the other hand, has brought far greater benefits, and lessons learned from the occasional flub have been invaluable. The old saw, “You could die while crossing the street”, has always been my fallback, when choosing to take reasonable risks.

Fever Dreams

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January 11, 2021- An African-Canadian, of indeterminate political stance, has posted a statement that “slavery….probably never existed”. His statement seems to be based on a thread on the website Quora, which includes claims, by someone with a Nordic-sounding name, that people working on plantations in the antebellum South were actually treated rather well, were educated by their masters and were more like friends with the plantation owners. He, in turn, bases his claims on old textbooks from Virginia and other Southern states, which paint enslavement in rather benign terms.

In any system, there are relationships which are brutal and others which are mild, by comparison. There were a fair number of educated slave owners who selectively educated male house servants, to read Scripture and to conduct some plantation business, on behalf of their masters. This was especially true during the Civil War, when many White family members and regular paid employees of the plantations were off serving in the Confederate Armed Forces. While it was a breach of the law, in most Confederate states, the fog of war let the practice slide.

On balance, however, enslaved people were treated harshly, were not taught to read and write, and were infantilized; the men being emasculated and the women treated like playthings. The residue of enslavement lingers today, in too many families and in too many communities, large and small-in all parts of this country, in some parts of the above-mentioned commenter’s native Canada, and in both European and Latin American countries.

People will often go to great lengths to legitimize their fanciful beliefs about times past-or even recent events (Accounts of January 6, 2021-and the summer of 2020, for that matter, often depend for their justification on outlandish theories, which demonize those seen as in opposition to those accounts. ) Many of these beliefs are made up of whole cloth, and may be honestly viewed as little more than fever dreams. The Enslavement Deniers take their place among others of their ilk: “There were no Jews killed in Nazi Germany”; “9/11 was an inside job”; “NASA is a hoax”; “School shooting victims are crisis actors”; “FDR staged Pearl Harbor”-and on down the rabbit hole.

It matters little, that the face of enslavement denial is himself of African ancestry. Such people have been rather commonly used by those with more of a stake in revisionist history, to say: “See! That person doesn’t believe the historical narrative and s(he’s) (Black, Jewish, Asian….)!” A lie is still a lie.

A Mixed Bag

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January 10, 2022- The day started with a dream about a winsome young lady telling those present that she was not “up for grabs”. I woke thinking, “Good for her!” No one is ever “up for grabs”.

Today brought the first dental check-up of the year, and all is well on that front. I am tending the oral equipment that helps me eat, speak and exhale, with far more diligence than I might have fifteen or twenty years ago. That will continue until I no longer need to eat, speak and exhale.

A call from the dermatology group brings a few agenda items for the end of this month and into February. They are all smaller issues than the big kahuna that was removed from my left facial cheek, some eight months ago. Yes, I am more diligent about sunscreen than I once was, so there’s that at least.

Hiking Buddy and I walked several blocks in downtown Prescott, and she’s doing much better. Actual trail walks are not too far off. Of course the walk was from some shops to a dinner spot, but that’s okay. We’re always walking towards places that bring us satisfaction, after all.

It’s feeling around here the way April feels in New England, only without the rain. Rain, of course, will come along a day here and a day there. Life is ever a mixed bag.

Six Identities

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January 9, 2022- No, I am not confused as to who I am. There are, however, six elements to a person’s identity-as I learned in a most instructive session, this afternoon. Each person has genetic, socioeconomic, training, gender, spiritual and cultural identities, which make up the whole self.

My genetic identity confers German, French, English, Irish, and Penobscot (Penawapskewi) ancestry. I may have residual Sorb, Polish, Roma and Jewish elements in my lineage, as well. Much remains to be learned about this aspect of my identity.

My socioeconomic heritage is lower middle class, conferring a strong work ethic and sense of integrity. My father had worked his way up to middle management, by the time of his death. Both sides of my family had agricultural roots, with both of my grandfathers maintaining small farm holdings, whilst still working in factory jobs. My mother had cosmetology training and cut women’s hair, in our home, when we were young. I am now in the middle ranks of the middle class, as it were, through a combination of earnings and investment income.

My training identity is as an educator, counselor, and school administrator. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master of Arts in Education, with an emphasis in Counseling, and additional credentials in School Administration and Community College Instruction. It’s ironic that the last two have been Achilles heels, in my professional life.

In terms of gender, I am unreservedly, comfortably male. I feel passionately loving towards girls and women, with a parental and brotherly orientation, these days. I have no antipathy towards anyone of other orientations or gender identities.

My spiritual background was Roman Catholic, and I was raised to have an ecumenical view of other Christian denominations and the Jewish Faith. I have long felt that there is no true separation between people, based on religious or philosophical practices. This last made my acceptance and practice of the Baha’i Faith a very easy step, when I reached the age of thirty. I maintain that there is but one Human Race and that all religions are part of the same spiritual flow, from the dawn of humanity.

My cultural identity is varied. I could say that I practice “Baha’i culture”, yet that is something that will be long evolving. I could say I adhere to “American” culture, yet there is scant agreement on what that even is. My cultural influences have been cards dealt me, where I have lived. Coastal New England has a distinct culture. So do the interior of Maine, the Navajo (Dineh) Nation, the Hopi lands, Jeju Island (Korea), the western Arizona desert, and the central Arizona Highlands. I have learned important lessons in each of these locales-and in places I have merely visited for a short time, from southeast Alaska, to Israel and Guyana-and so many places in between.

The last two elements, of who Gary is, are works in progress. I can only say that the goal of the end product is for a soul who is worthy of his Creator’s mercy and love, at the end of this earthly trail.

Flex Time

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January 8, 2022- This was one of the weekends in January, when I was planning to be away from Home Base. The schedules of those I had planned to visit changed, and made any visiting inopportune, so this time is being used to tend to matters closer to home. I am also using a couple of meditation Zoom calls to consider the course of future journeys planned for this year and next. Things became clearer to me, during the meditations. Making initial practical information checks, on a couple of aspects of these journeys, made things clearer still.

There is always a way to make good use of time, when plans have to change. Even being mostly in retirement mode, I find there are not enough hours in a day for everything that might be accomplished. Flexibility also seems to be the order of the Universe, at least in terms of how elements of Creation interact with one another. The fact that the Universe is unlimited, infinite, helps with that flexibility. Besides, that infinitude means there are far too many variables for one to go about life in a rigid manner.

In the end, I actually was glad to be finishing the day by completing a reading of “White Fragility”-coming to the conclusion that I am not fragile, in my ethnic and racial identity, and can learn from others about microaggressions and other elements of my own thoughts and actions that might drive a wedge between me and those around me.

No time need be wasted.

Just Cause

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January 7, 2022- An infringement on the right of a child to a safe learning environment led me to try and summon an administrator, with the response that someone would be right along. Several minutes went by, and I was perfectly content to wait-knowing full well that dozens of other matters could interfere with anyone getting to our room. Another student began to complain, after a half hour of inaction, so I made a second call-again knowing that we would make sure the matter was resolved by day’s end, yet wanting all concerned to know that the administration wasn’t just bluffing. The matter was resolved in due course and the guilty party called to account.

Life brings both small and great challenges to peace and order, oftentimes because one group or another feels rightfully aggrieved, without knowing the best way to get resolution. Litigation can bring monetary compensation for wrongs done, but there is likely to be a goodly amount of resentment left over. Legislation can bring changes to social systems and practices, often merely tipping the balance of power from one group to another-leaving those who are in neither group feeling, again, left in the cold.

True jurisprudence puts an equal emphasis on both parts of the word- “juris”- legal structure and “prudentia”-practical knowledge”. Any decision that is not based on current information is bound to boomerang. In the above incident, the administrator focused on the wrongdoer-and left several cases of side drama that emerged to the discretion of the classroom teacher. This is as it should be. Too often, legislators or public safety officers set out to resolve one issue, only to be sidetracked or stampeded into covering a host of other matters-often in the same piece of legislation or investigation, in the name of equanimity. Thence, comes the social phenomenon of “whataboutism”, or false equivalancy.

Everything deserves consideration-in its time.