Stay on Game

2

October 10. 2021, Gallup- Today is Double Tenth, the popular name for the National Day of Taiwan. The country is on watch, as it has been since 1949. Taiwan is staying vigilant, on game.

On a smaller scale, I, too, have to remain vigilant, on game-for a different reason. Life is getting more frenetic, I’ve noticed. More people are casting discernment to the wind, with me being one of them, for a split second too long, on September 23. The lesson was to not take eyes off my surroundings-in any situation.

After a morning that became whirlwind-a breakfast at Post 6, delayed a bit by human error (not mine), I hosted an online meeting-starting on time, but with seconds to spare. It all worked out, very nicely. A phone call to my mother, before all that, soothed any concerns I had about her well-being. She was more concerned that I was recovering from 9/23. I am, and just about completely.

Packing was fairly light, though I am ready for the vagaries of October-winter gear is mixed with near summer wear. I set out a bit after noon, noticing that there was a huge volume of traffic headed from Payson to the Phoenix area, for some reason going west to the Verde Valley, then south on I-17. I was headed in the opposite direction, but found it took seven minutes to be cleared for turning left so as to head north to Winslow.

There was no further delay in moving towards Gallup. I did stop for coffee, in the small Navajo Nation border town of Chambers, AZ. The restaurant attached to Days Inn was closed, but the convenience store had coffee. A well-meaning lady brought a stray dog into the store, pleading with the attendant to find a place for the scared puppy. Apparently, the finder was from Phoenix and had no way to care for the dog, which she said had been wandering around near the large semi-trailer trucks parked nearby. It being Sunday, and Chambers being a good hour from the animal shelter in Ganado, there wasn’t much the attendant could do, save put the dog outside and tend to her at shift’s end. Me? I am driving a rental car, have no pet carrier and would not be able to keep the animal at Home Base. I left a small group of people there to sort it out as best they could.

Once here, in western New Mexico’s regional commercial hub, I found no fewer than four motels closed for renovation. All can definitely use a world-class makeover, including the Lariat, where I stayed the last time I was here. El Capitan Motel is open for business and is definitely of recent renovation. The place is at least as good as a Motel 6, if not better. Who says Mom & Pop have nothing on the chains?

I am modifying my itinerary a bit, foregoing a drive into Chaco Culture National Historical Park, as the skinny on the roads into the park says there are very rough sections of the dirt roads, just before the park entrances, on either side. I am driving someone else’s vehicle and discernment precludes taking it on a rough route. I can drive a paved road, along the periphery of Chaco, which will suffice for now. Monday will thus be a day of familiarizing myself with the edges of the Bisti Badlands and the areas around the towns of Farmington, Bloomfield and Cuba.

My vigilance, in several instances of craziness, mostly pertaining to traffic, was much sharper today. I find that most reassuring.

Tides and Sands

2

October 9, 2021– Long ago, when I was young and feckless, I briefly dated a young woman, two years my junior. It ended due to complications, involving her on-again, off-again ties to another man. We both moved on, and I lost contact with her. D was a free spirit, though, and was fresh air in my rather moribund life, at the time. I learned, a few days ago, that she passed on September 10, leaving her second husband and her child from her first marriage, plus one grandchild.

D’s passing closes the door on a chapter in my life, my twenties, when there was a lot more man-child left in me than was prudent. I began that decade extricating myself from the tar pit that our relationship had become and ended the decade easing into the personal growth marathon that was my marriage.

I thought a lot about D, this morning, in the course of sizing up some of my friendships around Prescott that have assumed a staleness. Thus, as their tide ebbs and their dunes shift, I will give a few friends the distance they seem to want. Others, especially those in my faith community, have shown themselves to not be retreating to a coolness or to offering perfunctory greetings, in place of their former warmth.

I know there are often a thousand reasons why ties get broken and iciness replaces warmth. Other than making a better effort at curbing any of my own negativity towards some third parties, I don’t see that their change in attitude has anything directly to do with me. Besides, when some doors close, others open-and people like my hiking buddy still find my presence useful and welcome.

Tides and sands are made to shift and bring change.

None Are Better Than….

2

October 8, 2021- This afternoon, as a foreshortened school day was in its final half hour, I greeted two classrooms of 10-11 year-olds, several of whom were full of piss and vinegar, and all too eager to push the limits with one whom they saw as a dotty old man.

I set them straight, in short order, by giving a young man, who was posing as ringleader, some gratuitous time out of the room. He came back about three minutes later, and proceeded to follow the directions for the activity.

My parents told us that no one is inherently better than anyone else. I was never favoured over any of my siblings, and vice versa. My youngest brother was cut more slack, because he had more special needs than the rest of us. He was though, generally speaking, held to the same core expectations. The same ethic was dominant in our neighbourhood, in the schools and, as I experienced it, in my Army basic training and Advanced Individual Training units.

My experiences with artificial pecking orders came with active duty at Fort Myer, and more so, in deployment to Long Binh and Cholon, VietNam. I was dubbed one of the lower caste members, owing to my autism-and found myself feeling more empathy with the Black, Latino and Pacific Islander members of our units. The mantra in my head remained the same-“None are better than the rest.” I had a select job, handling accountable mail, and I did it to the best of my ability. That didn’t make me above it all, and when the bulk mail truck pulled up, in Long Binh, the lock went on the AM cage and my hands were emptying that truck, along with everyone else’s.

In the years since I was honorably discharged, every situation has also had its pecking order. Sometimes, the elitism was codified: Students answered to professors and professors, to Deans; Teachers answered to Principals and principals, to superintendents and Governing Boards; Volunteers answered to paid staff and paid staff, to administrators.

In other situations, the waters were muddier. It was then that the human animal’s penchant for an alpha to lead rose to the fore. Ad hoc authority figures have inserted themselves into my life, or tried to, at several junctures. American expatriates in Korea, retired military (whites and blacks) on the Navajo Nation, and authoritarian personalities, without portfolio, in several of the schools in which I’ve worked as a substitute teacher, have presented themselves as plenipotentiaries. In each case, my response has been: “I am not at your beck and call.”

So, in advising, admonishing or instructing the rising generations, my mantra is that of Mom and Dad: Regard yourselves as good as the rest, neither above nor beneath.

Redundancies

4

October 7, 2021-

We tend to love our redundant language, perhaps for fear that someone, somewhere, will feel left out, confused or disrespected. A man is, by definition, an adult male human being. Why, then, should he be identified as a non-pregnant person? A woman is, by definition, an adult female human being. Why, then, should she then be identified as a pregnant person? A person whose gender is re-assigned, and who is of legal adult age, takes on all the trials and adjustments that come with that transition. Why, then, should s(he) be still identified as born male or born female? On a more benign note, the passage of a year, since an event, is the first anniversary of that event. Anniversary is the passage of one year. Why, then, do we speak of “year anniversary”? Tuna fish, childlike child, erudite genius, clear logic: In the words of a then-five-year-old, spoken in 2011: “We understood the first time!” Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt , that we can get the meaning, without unnecessary repetition.

The Beautiful Universe

2

October 6, 2021- In the spiritist classic, “The Initiate In The New World”, Cyril Scott’s Master gets the novice’s attention, by putting the acolyte’s being smitten by a comely woman, who is twenty years his junior, in perspective. The learned one cautions him to remember that there are billions of beautiful scenes, throughout the Universe, millions of cases of such salubriousness on Earth alone and even in the human realm, over a billion humans (this was 1927) who reflect one sort of beauty or another. He encourages the Initiate to nurture his friendship with the younger woman, but in the context of a deep and variegated relationship.

This, of course, is emblematic of the best of marriages, of the most enduring friendships. Yet, how easily one can turn aside from even a long-term, promising, even mutually satisfying bond, over the most trifling of disappointments or disagreements. I’ve had strong bonds fade into nothingness or turn into estrangement, because one or both of us was unwilling to see the ties from a wider perspective.

For quite some time, though, I have taken to viewing a far-deeper universe-still being appreciative of comeliness, certainly, but hardly placing physicality front and center. The closest of my friends are those whose spiritual or ethereal beauty radiates in their daily lives and in all their dealings with those around them.

Thus was the little girl showing me a heart rock, she had found on the school playground, the highlight of my rather productive day. Heart rocks show that one is paying attention to one’s surroundings and is wise to a connection with nature. So, too, is paying attention to brilliant risings and settings of the sun, to rainbows, sunbows and moonbows. Thunder and lightning can be experienced as majestic.

Thus is a smile the most comforting of all expressions, and the hug the most reassuring of all interactions between two people. The pet’s unconditional affection can soothe, after the longest, hardest of days. The baby’s coo is the payback, for all that a mother has endured over the period of gestation.

Thus does beauty transcend all the transactional thought, cynicism, unilateral dependency and outright greed that drain the spirit, crush the soul and attempt to negate the essential goodness placed in all of us, by the Creator.

Alogrithm Go Round

2

October 5, 2021-

Just some musing about yesterday’s social media meltdown, which happened right after a whistleblower appeared on television.

You can’t get in, because both doors are locked, and the keys are inside. I hold the keys, and I’m the only one who can decide when and how there is an unlocking. I’m the algorithmic program, designed to teach everyone just how inconvenient it is to challenge my master. I follow instructions, and am breathtakingly loyal to my master. Unlike his army of attorneys, I don’t cost any money. I can communicate a very telling lesson, for pennies on the dollars that it costs to send the suits after any whistleblower. I am the algorithmic program that locked the doors once, and I can do it again. Be nice to my master.

Due Respect

5

October 4, 2021- Some one of these days, the old man (me) will take a hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other. Someone I love dearly just accomplished the feat, and as proud as I am of that adventurous soul, I know it will not be her last time doing this. One time or another, I will manage it as well. I may even make it part of an Arizona Trail trek.

I started reading a couple of books dealing with the respect that people ought to inherently have for one another. One is written by a young woman, essentially pointing out what my mother said when we were kids- “A human being is not a toy!” I personally think that everyone ever born has had or has a life plan. Many of the people are physically attractive, one attribute among dozens that a person may incorporate. I hold that everyone is to be educated and guided to make informed choices. The woman who wrote this book chose to place a photo of herself on the back cover. She has a beautiful face and svelte physique-and chose to feature these, while making the point that she will neither hide herself, nor flaunt her attributes. They are part of who she is, and nothing more.

The other book, dealing with subconscious racism and the fear that those who have it-have of it, is written by a woman who faces and is dealing with this phenomenon, as she is experiencing it within herself. I have had to do the same, over the years, in rooting out such biases. Thankfully, people of colour have been forthcoming, and the vast majority have been kind about pointing out how unnecessary such microaggressions and awkward behaviours are. With those encounters, the baggage has been shed.

The point of all this is-I am, and you are, going to keep meeting comely members of the opposite sex, and of own gender, for that matter. We are going to encounter people of other ethnicities and skin tones. The point of most such meetings is in the course of something each is doing, that has nothing to do with romantic exchange, finding a mate or establishing one’s superiority over other people. It has everything to do with being as supportive as possible, of the other person’s hopes and dreams-and their being as supportive as possible of yours.

Friendship is the best, the finest, possible outcome of our random daily encounters. I treasure each such outcome, every chance to support a fellow human in the legitimate elements of her/his life plan.

Pandora Papers, etc.

6

October 3, 2021- Every so often, a low rumbling emanates from the people I call the Truth Seekers. Some of these come from a place of deep spirituality; others, from a humanistic place of ethics. I have yet to see any Truth Seekers derive their findings from a place of pure self-interest. A crusader who veers off into partisan politics ends up tarnishing the platinum of the original cause.

Such a low rumbling was heard today. A group of journalists, reporting in the Washington Post, presented a summation of what they titled The Pandora Papers. Most of us are at least passingly familiar with the curious Pandora, of Greek mythology, who opened a chest and released all manner of demons and ills upon mankind. The present day Pandora, however, is releasing truth that was intended to remain under wraps.

It is all too easy for a human being to become beguiled by material wealth. The more money that is offered to many, especially those who have simultaneously amassed power and influence, the more is desired. This can happen to both individuals and to institutions. It is usually, in the end, the undoing of both.

Those who took the time and energy to open offshore financial accounts, and thus hide their fortunes from legitimate tax collectors, will now begin to see those efforts unraveling. By some estimates, there is enough hidden wealth in those offshore accounts to cover the costs of a slew of social reforms and improvements-worldwide. It goes without saying that this would do my heart good. Having gone through three years of pleas, from one whose needs could be met by a mere millionth of that hidden wealth, I say let the collection and redistribution begin.

Those whose fortunes are relatively modest-even multimillionaires, in many cases, but who pay their taxes and honour the needs of the less fortunate, should retain their well-earned gains. The others, many of whom are mentioned by name in The Pandora Papers, need to own up-and pay up.

Release and Surrender

4

October 2, 2021, Sedona- Sometimes, home isn’t where you think it is. Other times, the path to home involves going back, very deeply, into a past that has been long buried in layers of detritus. Both points were brought to me, quite clearly, this afternoon.

I made an appointment to sit in an exploratory session with Anastasia Martynova, a licensed therapist in the Sedona area, to see what revelations might arise, with regard to the impact of my early childhood on my present state. Before that, I stopped at Synergy Cafe, a place which I had, until this afternoon, come to feel as a homelike environment.

Strangely, upon entering the cafe, with the intent of enjoying a cup of coffee and reading a meditation book, until Anastasia had returned to her professional space, I found a hostile reception. I retreated to an area in the back space of the cafe and, though I was served and allowed to remain, it was made clear that my presence was to be brief and any interaction with others limited.

Fortunately, I got a message from Ana, that she had arrived at her space early. I found the place fairly easily and my exploration began, after decompressing a bit from the earlier experience. Ana guided me through the customary process of foot-to-crown relaxation, then I found myself remembering the very process of my birth. The gist was that I was turned, almost against my initial impulse, and was able to enter this world head first. My first recalled memory after that was of wanting to comfort my mother.

There was then the recollection of a flower-filled meadow, below the home where my maternal grandmother lived, and where Mom had grown up. I recalled it as a favourite peaceful place., surrounded by forest, where we were not supposed to go alone.

As the session progressed, I was visited by Penny, my brother Brian, and my father, all offering encouragement and giving the message that they were each in a good place. It was not a seance, though, and the messages were conveyed to me while I was in a dreamlike state. I also saw a vision of a former student, who has been missing for over a year now. I found myself guiding, and at times carrying, him through a narrow canyon, eventually into a place of light, where his family members were there to welcome him.

The final vision was again of me as a child, walking hand in hand with a girl, climbing up a mountain that had stairs. No meaning of this scene came to me, other than that, during this time, we were both being watched by two angels, one masculine and one feminine.

During all the scenes, the colours of peace were gold, light yellow, light blue, pink and purple. The colours of challenge were red and green. Ana’s voice was soothing and guiding, throughout the process. The other helpful aspect of the session was that magnets were laid out, under various pressure points. This added a massage element to the session, and served to greatly relieve residual stiffness, from last week’s accident.

I left the space with a greater understanding of how I have come to focus so much of my life on nurturance and trying to be helpful to others, especially to children and youth. For those interested in Anastasia’s work, here is a link to her practice. https://portalofrebirth.com/

Why We Struggle

0

October 1, 2021- “We gathered together to ask the Lord’s blessing”, certainly, and to reflect on what was done right, as well as areas for growth, with respect to next year’s event.

The occasion was the Hope Fest appreciation dinner, held at the aptly-named Lindo Mexico Restaurant, on Prescott’s near north side.

A number of incidents and procedural anecdotes were discussed,and after a fashion, the conversation turned to the very purpose of challenges and suffering in this life. It came down to two elements: As powerful as the Creator is, for insuperable force to be brought to bear, on all given problems faced by us, would teach us nothing. The second point is that, by the sufferings of the great Spiritual Teachers, we learn that our own struggles can be both overcome and be the source of spiritual growth.

These past few weeks have certainly reminded me of this, as well as being a check on whether I was getting attached to my possessions. While they have served me well, so far the answer has been “No”.