Coercion

6

January 12, 2020-

It’s easy to imagine

that one is on the right track,

and that everyone ought

follow suit.

The Jesuits and Dominicans

thought the use of force

would make the world Catholic.

The Umayyads felt the same

would work for Islam.

Conquerors of legend,

and of infamy,

swore they would

either rule the Earth

or scorch it.

Where are they now?

Remember,

when an idea of yours,

of ours,

sounds like an absolute must,

for all to follow:

What if it strikes some as

inappropriate,

irrelevant,

or just beyond their understanding?

Coercion,

pressure,

shaming

belong in the past.

 

 

Open Letter

6

January 11, 2020-

Dear Son,

I have watched you struggle with so much of life,

including matters which you should not have had to face,

at least not at the age at which life brought them to your doorstep.

I’ve done my level best, most of the time, to help you along.

There were times when that best was not sufficient.

There were the times when we both flailed,

and others, fortunately, came to our aid.

You made a wise choice,

as I did before you,

to seek the structure of the military,

in establishing a sense of priority,

and beginning to sort out a life plan.

That plan led you through the vagaries,

and sometimes disordered process,

of service to our country.

It also led you back to the land of your birth.

You found a home for your heart,

and brought your true love back,

to unite two families.

Now, you are back with our families,

and I trust you are being received well.

I also trust that,

whoever joins our family,

in the years ahead,

will also find a warm welcome,

with no conditions attached.

You have a bright future ahead,

my most precious son.

Choose carefully, and wisely,

never acting out of spite,

malice, or hurt feelings.

It is a tall order,

and you were raised

to stand tall.

I look forward

to many years

of standing wherever

you need me to stand.

You will always be treasured.

Salubrity

2

January 11, 2020-

There was snow on the ground, yesterday.

Now, it is only in the shadows,

with next Friday bringing a chance of more.

The air is fresh today.

Shortly,

free, fair and healthy

will be on the agenda,

as several of us consider

ways to better grow one’s own.

Soup is in the crockpot,

and will be ready

by this evening.

Yesterday evening,

two wildly divergent

forms of music

brought solace to our ears.

This evening,

we may  hear

even more sweet sounds.

There is salubrity,

in the air,

and in my heart.

A Gallery of Slivers

6

January 10, 2020- 

It is more common than some like to admit, to regard oneself as “well-rounded”, worldly, “Renaissance person”, or some other descriptor that accents a wide variety of experiences.
I’ve had many of those types of moments. Yet, in thinking about any given experience, how deep was any of it?  How broad?  Let me consider one example.

About five years ago, I visited Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  The size of that fine institution necessitated choosing one or two galleries.  I selected a Frida Kahlo exhibit, learning a fair amount about that astonishing artist and taking in a few of the adjoining works by Mexican and Central American painters, as well.  The other exhibit I chose featured Japanese and Korean silk calligraphy.  This was a refresher on what I had learned of the medium, whilst visiting Seoul, twenty years earlier.

Neither of these visits was in any way encyclopedic or exhaustive.  Indeed, in a two-hour stay, one is getting only a sliver of knowledge, about any given subject. That’s not a bad thing, in the least.  I would rather have a preliminary experience with a particular subject, or place, than none at all.

The fact, though, that there is vastly more to any particular person, place or thing, than we can fully appreciate, leaves me in awe.  That’s not even getting close to the topic of The Universe, which will always escape our attempts to contain it, in the realm of human consciousness.  Just considering one painting, by any given artist, can take several hours of focused contemplation.  The writer William Least Heat Moon, in “Prairy Erth” (Houghton Mifflin,Boston, 1991), took the sparsely-populated Chase County, Kansas, and delved into every aspect of the modest section of Flint Hills, until it “looms as large as the Universe”.

This is one of the true wonders of this life: No matter how many times one experiences even the most ordinary of things, it is, as another astute observer recently remarked, proof that you can’t have the same experience twice.  Life is a gallery of slivers.

On They Go

8

January 9, 2020-

My son, Aram, and daughter-in-law, Yunhee, have arrived, by now, in Boston.  They left here, early this morning, on the second leg of their family visits, after three days at Home Base.  We visited long-time family friends.  I was able to introduce Aram to several friends, whom Yunhee had met over the Christmas season:  The owner-proprietor at Ms. Natural’s; the cacao products maker, and her tea-crafter associate, at Synergy (Sedona natural coffee and tea shop); a local cosmetics distributor, and her sister, my dearest friend, of whom I can truthfully say that I am as close or as distant, as she wants  me to be.

We enjoyed fine dining and casual meals- and improvised meals at home.  We hiked a bit, in Sedona.  Mostly though, they had the safe space they needed, to process their respective paperwork and to make their calls, in a warm and comfortable house.  They left in good position, for the life that awaits them, when the family visits are over and establishing a household takes center stage.

The rising generations are doing just fine, from where I sit.   Their world view is measured, their choices informed and their dreams are grounded.  I have watched my little family work together, to solve serious matters and routine tasks which would be vexing for one person to do alone.  I see others who are struggling,  and keep them in prayer, daily, that they may get past their anger and resentment.  Learning to trust is probably one of the strongest skills I was able to impart to my son-especially learning to trust himself.

I know “the kids” will serve the world, and humanity, just fine.  They go on, with the vision and drive that will not ignore, or sweep aside, the major concerns which some currently in power find too complex for resolution.

No One Should Be Pushed Along

6

January 8, 2020, Sedona-SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

I can remember, when I stood in front of Mona Lisa, in case and air conditioned room, in the Louvre.  All manner of frenetic tourists were jockeying for position around me,  not rushing me-but bickering with one another, in a variety of  tongues.  All this, for a few seconds per person, to take a self-portrait with the Lady of Mystery.  I did not take a selfie, but was content to have her countenance recorded in my photo album of France’s premier art institution.  I needed ten seconds.

I think of this, when waiting for fellow hikers or other visitors to complete their time at a an overlook or striking scene.  Each of us has the same right as anyone else, to enjoy wonders great and small.  No one who might be impatiently toe-tapping, while waiting for the people in front of them to be done and move on, can know just how important these small moments in the midst of grandeur might turn out to be for the seeming dawdlers.

My little family and I waited, atop Submarine Rock, at the end of Little Horse Trail, while the people in front of us, finished taking photographs, and taking in the astonishing view.  This took about five minutes, and was, as often happens in my experience, followed by one of the men offering to take photos of the three of us atop the rock.  My daughter-in-law then took more shots of the men, from another vantage point.

This is one way that friends are made, and everyone’s enjoyment of a wondrous tableau is enhanced.  How much more pleasant would the afternoon been, for the tourists in Chez Mona Lisa, had there been a bit more camaraderie!  I may be dreaming, but that is my wont.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Connectedness

8

January 7, 2020-

Having my little family here

is a perfect occasion

for cementing my own ties

and building a sense of extended family

between son and daughter-in-law

with the Baha’i friends whom he knew

as a youth,

and with other dear friends,

whom he met for the first time,

and she for the second time, today.

It reminds me, that I have

at least one indelible tie here,

regardless of where life takes me.

It reminds me, too, that  there are those

who will ever have my back,

and I, theirs,

for as long as we draw breath,

and beyond.

The Queue

4

January 6, 2020-

I have long been tagged as “an individual”, mostly in an admiring way.  The practice of setting one’s own course is often seen with adoring eyes, from a distance.  It is at the same time true, of many of those who look favourably upon the people who chart their own course, that there is a compelling need to follow the herd.

I have actually, in these later years, especially, found a fair amount of satisfaction in fitting in with society’s reasonable expectations.  I derive pleasure from honouring the queue, the sense that everyone else is just as entitled to respect, kindness and regard for their time, their hopes and dreams as I am.  Being a Bull in The China Shop stopped working for me, even before I met Penny.  Patience, indeed, has provided me with a keen sense of observing what is going on around me-things I’d have missed, in my late teens and twenties.

These thoughts came to mind, as I read Jordan Peterson’s notions on conformity.   It is true that the majority of things that society at large does, in a day, and the way in which these are done, is composed of what works.

Generations, though, will have their own take on matters, and the practice of the quotidian will change, with time.  I have found some of the methods put forth by the rising generations, in facing our day -to- day problems, actually make perfect sense-and so, I have adapted some of these in my own daily life.  I do so, knowing that I am not a Baby Boomer trying to be a copy cat, but a sentient being, gratefully adapting to a rather promising time.  My use of paper and plastics is down, for example, and I am maintaining a keen interest in the more organic foods and medicines that have emerged, over the past decade.

I do not sense the queue will disappear, nor will its underlying sense of order- but it will be accompanied by a stronger sense of inclusivity-not willy-nilly, but sensible, as we recognize a more unified order.

Authenticity

6

January 5, 2020-

In all the debate about sin, evil and the unfortunate events of life, there is a place for consideration of being real versus living in what one knows, deep down, to be a fallacy; of being authentic versus being inauthentic.

Jordan Peterson, in Twelve Rules for Life, points to the allegories of Lucifer, and of the Egyptian demon-figure, Set, as illustrations of the dangers posed by over-rationalization.  It is, in effect, the opposite of taking ownership of one’s life, responsibility for one’s actions.  Satan always comes up with an excuse for what he’s done-and it’s always someone else’s fault-even God’s fault.  This allegorical depiction of wickedness lays it out straight,though.  Only integrity, ownership of one’s behaviours-and of their outcomes, will serve to bring about a life well-lived.

I had to learn that the hard way.  Losing a spouse brings a person to account, faster than just about anything, even if-as in my case- it isn’t directly one’s fault.  I could not, however, blame anyone for Penny’s passing.  Hereditary disease would have struck her down, at some point, regardless, and all I can do is learn from the experiences of care-taking and of widowhood.  I have taken the lesson that a life of integrity may only be lived if the person living it  maintains authenticity.

Deceit erodes that integrity, first within one’s own heart, then gradually outwardly through one’s circle of friends, one’s family, one’s tribe.  A life without trust is a life of emptiness.

I am fortunate, to have reached a point where authenticity is something of which I am no longer ashamed or embarrassed.

 

Thoughts on A Serene Saturday

6

January 4, 2020-

Today had no particular agenda.

There will be lots of days like that.

They sustain me, sustain us,

through the frenzied course

of other days.

It was mild today,

and those who were

not made ill,

by the recent cold snap,

were out in force,

at Farmers’ Market.

I met my Dharma family

and a serene, lovely grandmother,

who was winding up her visit.

I see where L gets his sense

of calm purposefulness.

A long “update”

of my New Year’s

produced a few

stifled yawns from the

otherwise attentive vendor.

I’ll know to keep my

quotidia to myself,

in the future.

I said farewell,

this afternoon,

to four place mats,

which have been

in our households

for nearly twenty years.

It’s time for refurbishing,

one step at a time.

Apartment supe

liked the lasagna

he got for the holidays.

So, it’s been a quiet one,

and a fine day for reflection

and figuring out practical matters.